Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: October ::
Sonnet 125
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0900  Thursday, 12 October 2006

[1] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 11 Oct 2006 18:41:13 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0891 Sonnet 125

[2] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 	Wednesday, 11 Oct 2006 18:41:29 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0891 Sonnet 125


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Farey <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 11 Oct 2006 18:41:13 +0100
Subject: 17.0891 Sonnet 125
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0891 Sonnet 125

Nigel Davies wrote:

 >Peter, the couplet is perhaps the strongest linkage to your argument,
 >and the part of the sonnet that has been the most difficult to
 >comprehend. It does fit well with Judas being the "suborned informer".

It certainly seems to me that the word 'suborned' (e.g. with 30 pieces 
of silver) is more important than is assumed in most interpretations.

 >I do feel myself though that the coronation procession of James I is
 >the most apt occasion that this sonnet comments on, particularly with
 >the "state", "pomp", "policy" and "politic".

These are in the preceding sonnet, of course, where the effect of 
political change upon *religious* practice is just as likely to be what 
he had in mind.

 >There is strong emotion in this sonnet, particularly the closing
 >couplet, that suggests to me that it was a contemporary event that
 >prompted its writing rather than any great emotion directed at a
 >Eucharist procession.

I agree about the closing couplet, and that whatever he was emotional 
about was unrelated to that ceremony. Whether whatever it was would have 
needed to be contemporary, if by that you mean fairly recent, is less 
certain.

 >I also detect some antipathy from Shakespeare towards James I
 >elsewhere in the canon that fits well with the sentiments of this
 >sonnet.

Agreed, although I would say that, personally, I see no more antipathy 
to James than to Elizabeth.

 >On the points you make:
 >
 >- "savours sweet" is a favourite term in the canon, e.g. in V&A, ToS,
 >MSDN, etc., none with religious reference.

I don't know about the "favourite" or the "etc.", these being the only 
examples I could find. But I think that you are looking at this the 
wrong way round, Nigel. The question is not whether "sweet ... savour" 
must have a religious meaning, but which of two meanings - one to do 
with the Eucharist and one with the coronation - is offered better 
support by it.

 >The V&A reference is particularly close to 125's: "Find sweet
 >beginning, but unsavoury end".

Neither the overt meaning nor any metaphorical one need be religious, 
but, given Shakespeare's undoubted familiarity with the Bible, can one 
seriously doubt that the very common biblical phrase "sweet savour" was 
in the back of his mind when he wrote it?

 >- It is striking how bereft the canon is of religion, particularly in
 >respect of contemporaries' expectations of an afterlife contrasting
 >with Shakespeare's "worms" and "common grave".

Indeed. In fact I would suggest that lines 3 and 4 may well be coming 
from much the same direction.

 >- The sonnet has striking correlation with Iago's opening statements
 >in Othello Ii, in which he prepares with Roderigo to inform Brabanzio
 >of Desdemona's secret marriage to Othello. The themes in this speech
 >of obsequious two-facedness and an informer, are obviously aspects of
 >125.

I must say that I have always found this supposed correlation a little 
bit far-fetched. Certainly lines 61-3 express the difference between the 
outward appearance and what is going on inside in similar terms:

   For when my outward action doth demonstrate
   The native act and figure of my heart
   In compliment extern,

and the words 'obsequious' and 'soul' appear there, but these really 
are, I think, quite trivial compared with the 10 lines out of the 14 in 
the Sonnet where I think I have shown there is a documentary connection 
with the Eucharist.

 >It is also interesting to note that the only monarch to be coronated in
 >Shakespeare's lifetime was James. His coronation procession was on 15th
 >March 1604 whilst his actual coronation was on 25th July 1603, both
 >dates (15th and 25th) being reflected in this sonnet's positioning at
 >125.

Yes, it is interesting. Were it not for all of those apparent references 
to the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles and the Catechism, I might 
well think that the canopy over him on that occasion was the one that 
Shakespeare had in mind!

Peter Farey
http://www2.prestel.co.uk/rey/index.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Farey <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 11 Oct 2006 18:41:29 +0100
Subject: 17.0891 Sonnet 125
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0891 Sonnet 125

Peter Bridgman, preferring to attack my conclusion rather than the 
evidence I offer in support of it, wrote:

 >Peter Farey writes ...
 >
 >>... the canopy mentioned in the first line is more likely to
 >>be that carried over the host in an Eucharistic procession
 >>rather than one borne over the monarch.
 >
 >Is Peter Farey aware that all Eucharistic processions in England were
 >abolished in the 1547 Injunctions (i.e. seventeen years before
 >Shakespeare's birth)?

Yes I am. What I am less sure of is that no such ceremonies took place 
during Mary's reign in spite of this injunction [written before I saw 
Peter's withdrawal of the comment]. Not that I find this in any way 
important, as I explain below.

 >And if he is aware of this, does he think WS found time to travel
 >abroad before writing Sonnet 125?

No. Nor do I accept Peter Bridgman's apparent belief that Shakespeare 
was unable to write about anything of which he did not have personal 
experience - an opinion which I must say that I am surprised to find 
being voiced here of all places!

I can, for example, imagine young William asking his father to explain 
that passage in Article 28, where it says that "The Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, 
lifted up, or worshipped", and being given a detailed description of 
what used to happen in the (...?) old days.

Peter Farey
http://www2.prestel.co.uk/rey/index.htm

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.