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Thread: Shakespeare's sonnets

  1. #31
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Yes, I see it's another conception of Zen.
    Peter Qince is a self-parody of Shakespeare himself ,yes. And the part of Pyramus and Thisbe is one of the most funniest things Shakespeare' has ever written.
    But Oberon's generosity with the young lovers takes the attention away from his cruelty to his wife.
    Yes, Pyramus and Thisbe is hilarious.

    But about Oberon's supposed cruelty: in my opinion, Titania's jokey humiliation with Bottom (which is Oberon's doing) is no more cruel than the more politically acceptable (in these days) jokey humiliation of Malvolio the Puritan in Twelfth Night or the politically neutral (but humiliating) practical joke Prince Hal pulls on Falstaff in Henry IV part one. Falstaff takes it in sport, and although I am a Protestant, I think the scene with Malvolio is funny. I respect your opinion, Danik, but if you will listen to an alternative one, mine is that it is possible to be a bit too much like Malvolio in applying our own standards to harmless fun like A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    Now, that said, the rough treatment Titania (and queens in general) receive in the play is real and rather interesting. There is a view that it may have been political in its own times. A Midsummer Night's Dream was written when Queen Elizabeth was getting older but would neither marry nor name an heir. This was troubling to many at the time; the lack of an heir could have led to civil war on Elizabeth's death. Some were also troubled by the "faerie queen" cult of personality Elizabeth seemed to be building around herself. They saw it as proudly feminine (in a bad way) and ultimately unnatural and likely to end badly.

    Now, some feminist scholars will tell you (correctly, I think) that one of the themes of A Midsummer Night's Dream is that queens need to be governed by kings. This is why Theseus is engaged to Hypolyta, who is the queen of the Amazons--fierce women warriors devoted to chastity. But Hypolyta is even more than that. Until recently she has been Theseus' mortal enemy (as Elizabeth was with many princes who sought her hand). This has to be put to right through marriage.

    Note also that nature itself is becoming corrupt because of Titania and Oberon's estrangement:

    Titania
    These are the forgeries of jealousy:
    And never, since the middle summer's spring,
    Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
    By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
    Or in the beached margent of the sea,
    To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
    But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
    Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
    As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
    Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
    Have every pelting river made so proud
    That they have overborne their continents:
    The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
    The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
    Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
    The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
    And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
    The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
    And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
    For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
    The human mortals want their winter here;
    No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
    Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
    Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
    That rheumatic diseases do abound:
    And thorough this distemperature we see
    The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
    Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
    And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
    An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
    Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
    The childing autumn, angry winter, change
    Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
    By their increase, now knows not which is which:
    And this same progeny of evils comes
    From our debate, from our dissension;
    We are their parents and original.

    Damn, that's beautiful.

    Anyway, per Shakespeare, the solution to the malady of the times is for the fairy queen (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) to put away her feminine pride and accept her husband in accordance with nature. If not, nature itself--and Oberon is a force of nature--will show her up for the fool she is being. In fact, I wonder if on some level Bottom is a kind of satire on the braying courtiers and lyric poets who played up to Elizabeth's love fantasies--she who should be a queen with a king for a husband instead dallies with *sses.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-15-2019 at 05:03 PM.
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  2. #32
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Picked a sonnet at random (used my stopwatch), which was 138, which I have not studied before. So what does any of it mean, and is it any good?

    SONNET 138

    When my love swears that she is made of truth
    I do believe her, though I know she lies,
    That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
    Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
    Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
    Although she knows my days are past the best,
    Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
    On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
    But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
    And wherefore say not I that I am old?
    O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
    And age in love loves not to have years told:
    Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
    And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be


    [Actually, I reckon I understand this one]
    Last edited by kev67; 05-22-2019 at 01:11 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  3. #33
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    [Actually, I reckon I understand this one]
    Good, because it is your turn.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-22-2019 at 06:06 PM.
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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Good, because it is your turn.
    Or not. Anyone else want to try?
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  5. #35
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Perhaps Fleetwood Mac was familiar with this sonnet when they sang, "Tell me lies
    Tell me sweet little lies..."

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Perhaps Fleetwood Mac was familiar with this sonnet when they sang, "Tell me lies
    Tell me sweet little lies..."
    Possibly. He doesn't seem to be at the "damn your love, damn your lies" point just yet.

    The second to last line is hilarious with its pun on lie as an untruth and lie as sexual intercourse. The whole poem is funny in a bittersweet way. It's quite moving, really.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  7. #37
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I have been trying to remember the name of that old billionaire who married a young porn star. Well she looked like a porn star, but maybe she wasn't.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  8. #38
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Donald Trump.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  9. #39
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    He wasn't the one I was thinking of. There was an old business mogul who looked like the elder of Benny Hill's dirty old man cronies. The small one with the bald head. This business mogul married a vapid, but buxom blonde. She used to spend fortunes in department stores. If she was faithful, that would have been a surprise. If she wasn't planning of what she'd do with the money after he died, that would have been a surprise too. Neither could have been so stupid not to realise that she was mostly interested in his money and he was mostly interested in her body, and that that was the way the public perceived them. They were still happy with the arrangement.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  10. #40
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Anna Nicole Smith. The couple had 14 blissful months before Anna's husband died, and she inherited $400 mil, or something like that.

  11. #41
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    And back in the day there was Charo (of the coochi-coochi schtick) who was married to the goaty old bandleader Xaviar Cugat. But, you know, like Beauty and the Beast, it's a song as old as time.

    Obviously though Shakespeare is talking about something slightly different. Here neither lover is a prize, or at least both are too old and worldly (in a bad way) for love to be a sweet or faithful thing. But both take consolation in mutually recognized lies to the contrary. However false, says Shakespeare, the illusion of a better intimacy is one of love's best tricks.

    The poem's sophisticated, candid tone reminds me of Catullus. Its structure (not its form, which is obviously a sonnet) reminds me of Martial (who was highly influenced by Catullus). Martial would introduce an irony or contradiction (sometimes a shocking one), ask how it could be, and respond with an urbane, often cynical resolution. I think Shakespeare knew both of these Latin poets.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-24-2019 at 08:38 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  12. #42
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    You have if you've read Macbeth:

    Well, no one knows the Victorians like you do, Kev. Maybe Shakespeare's not your thing. I hope I'm wrong for your sake. There is just so much there for a reader like you. But hey, Joyce is SO not my thing, and I'm from the Irish colony of Boston. Still I cannot imagine the English people as a whole not having a better sense of Shakespearean language and thought than I do. As Hermia says (or was it Helena?): "I am amazed and know not what to say."
    You're from Boston then. Did you go to see The Pixies and The Throwing Muses in your youth? If not, why not? I am thinking of reading Ullyses, but I think I'll keep it for next year's homework.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  13. #43
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    You're from Boston then. Did you go to see The Pixies and The Throwing Muses in your youth? If not, why not? I am thinking of reading Ullyses, but I think I'll keep it for next year's homework.
    I'm pretty sure someone dragged me out to see the Throwing Muses at the old Paradise back in the day, but I think they were a Rhode Island band. I remember them around in any case. The Pixies were a little later (I left town in the mid-eighties). There was an avant-gard-ish Boston band in the early 80s called Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. They were like the Throwing Muses but more but instrumental. I think I saw them, too. But in those days (regrettably) it was more about the sex and drugs than the rock and roll. Music was just for the vibe. Tis gone, tis gone.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-28-2019 at 08:53 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  14. #44
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Try another pseudo-randomly selected sonnet: 52.
    What does any of this mean?


    So am I as the rich whose blessèd key
    Can bring him to his sweet up-lockèd treasure,
    The which he will not every hour survey,
    For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
    Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
    Since seldom coming in the long year set,
    Like stones of worth they thinly placèd are,
    Or captain jewels in the carcanet.
    So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
    Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
    To make some special instant special blest
    By new unfolding his imprisoned pride.
      Blessèd are you whose worthiness gives scope,
      Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  15. #45
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Okay, I guess I go first. The speaker of the sonnet is a participant in a discreet, possibly illicit sexual affair: one that is rarely consummated but all the more pleasureful for that reason. So he's a rich miser who seldom wields the ol' key (nudge nudge, wink wink) to unlock his hoarded treasure. The other metaphors are about things that are value because of their relative rarity (jewels, holidays) or things that are kept concealed (almost imprisoned) in--a wardrobe, a chest. The closing couplet means something like: well, I can't have you as often as I like, but just desiring you is part of it.

    I don't like this sonnet very much. It has a sort of B&D quality to it--keys, chests, locked rooms. I think a carcanet is something like a jeweled choker, so that's creepy, too. And it's all about lust as far as I can tell: I keep you locked up because it's more pleasureful for me that way. Not my bag, baby, as we used to say.

    Anyone know what "captain jewels" are?
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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