The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0149 Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Date: February 27, 2018 at 12:22:16 AM EST
Subject: Mr. W.H. if you Will
If William Holme included A Lover’s Complaint, then he was telling us that he knew that ALC was related to the Sonnets as its Prologue and was written by Shakespeare.
I wish to put readers on ‘track’ to ‘get’ the Sonnet story. First you must re-read and absorb A Lover’s Complaint and REALIZE that the young man of the poem is the seducer of the “fickle maid” of stanza one. He is as young and IS the fabled Narcissus and writing as if he were him. He is the image in the “glass” of the Sonnets, the ‘himage,’ Will, if you will. The “maid” is the Muse of tragedy, Melpomene, the narrator, the songstress, the Dark Lady, who is jealous of the new Narcissus who has created the Friend, his own image to love in his “glass,” the one she will woo away in sonnet 42, which annoyed Narcissus, the Poet, the bard himself, talking to himself in his glass. Please remember that in reading ALC that the bard is a teenager who has not yet started to shave. I hope it stimulates you to restudy both poems.
MacDonald Jackson has written in his paper, The Distribution of Pronouns in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, the following:
“The nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries saw dozens of drastic reorderings, mostly designed to create a more intelligible “story.” The Quarto’s inclusion of “A Lover’s Complaint,” almost universally rejected as spurious, bolstered belief that as a volume Shakespeare’s Sonnets was heterogeneous, unsanctioned, and unplanned.”
“Recently, evidence has accumulated in favor of the opposite conclusions. Shakespeare had prepared his sonnets as a sequence for publication, the Quarto numbers them correctly, “A Lover’s Complaint” is Shakespeare’s and integral to the overall structure (the addition of a “complaint” or other long poem having several precedents in authorially supervised collections of Elizabethan sonnets) and the Quarto preserves an artefact greater than the sum of its parts. While each sonnet can stand as a self-sufficient creation, individual sonnets are also part of a larger construct – or so the argument goes.”
The “story” of the Sonnets remains untold in Jackson’s article despite there being a “sequence,” but Jackson, astutely, points to sonnet 10, noting a collection of pronouns, alluding to the fact that line 9 contains the first use of the first person pronoun, “I,
“Oh, change thy thought, that I may change my mind."
For shame! deny that thou bear'st love to any,
Who for thyself art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lovest is most evident;
For thou art so possess'd with murderous hate
That 'gainst thyself thou stick'st not to conspire.
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
Make thee another self, for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.
Note that the new Narcissus in the previous sonnet 5, line 10, has clued us that he is preparing to create the ‘child’ in his “glass” as he told us in sonnet 3.1-2, “Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest, / Now is the time that face should form another.” That ‘child’ is to be “A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass.” The very one he is talking to in sonnet 10 that I have included above, showing Jackson’s first person pronoun “I,” to whom the bard says, “O change thy thought, that I may change my mind.” Of course, he does not have to be clairvoyant to read his own mind. He and he alone knows his own “thought,” proving that he is the “image,” This is the young man of the Sonnets, (me, I, mine) “my friend and I are one,” (S. 42.13, a phrase in which all words but two are pronouns, not to mention a hendiadys, a Shakespeareanism, a friend who will be stolen away by “that Muse” of sonnet 21.1, the “fickle maid” of A Lover’s Complaint, who isn’t taking her rejection very kindly, after the bard seduced her. Note too, that the image is to be the object of his self-love and still respected by the bard and addressed as “thou” since Lord Narcissus’ reflection has yet to be ‘born’ in the couplet of sonnet 18, “and this gives life to thee.”
Above all, allow that this was an immature, young Shakespeare. who had yet to write his plays, possibly describing himself, knowing his own genius.
Lord Narcissus was the son of the river king, Cephisus and the naiad, Liriope, who swam in the stream of the king. Addressed as “Lord of my love” in Sonnet 26.1. A letter to the bard, a new Narcissus, telling him that she is leaving in the couplet, to cure the bard/friend of his “blindness” later. by showing him his own self-loving face on her own neck in sonnet 131, “one on another’s neck.”
In creating the ‘child’ of the Sonnets, note that the bard uses the word “kind” twice in sonnet 10, the German word for ‘child’ as he cleverly will pun us in sonnet 105, three times, “Fair, kind and true.” (Fair child and true.) A Lover’s Complaint isn’t “heterogeneous.” It is the “opposite” as Jackson concluded. I would say it is homogeneous, “of the same kind” origin and in “sequence” with A Lover’s Complaint. and with the Sonnets and with its epilogue, The Phoenix and Turtle, the loyal dove and the “treble-dated Crow,” the Dark Lady, the Muse, whose “breath” inspired the “spongy lungs” of the bard, She who wrote the letter of sonnet 26 to “Lord of my love.” The teenager of ALC, (92) “Small show of man was yet upon his chin.”
I hope you agree, I know you will have very happy hours of creative Shakespearean thoughts.
Please forgive the macular typing errors.
[Editor's Note: I have informed Mr. S.L. How tired I am of his using every to repeat the same claims over, and over, and over again. It is something up with which I will no longer put.