Edward de Vere – The Sonnets
A mature man looks back at his life’s events,
at “Reckoning Time, whose millioned accidents…”
Those structured sonnets he did write
to benefit readers with his insight;
to protect like an emotional knight
when future people feel their plight.
In the first few – the joy of children and an heir,
after death, your image still will be there,
leaving behind an – “acceptable audit,”
hopefully without any deficit.
Damning usurers for their actions,
hoping their loans were cancellations.
The pleasure of flowers distilled beyond their season,
denying time and death their usual mission.
In his tutor Smith’s house at Ankerwycke
were such stills in a lab scientific.
Love, nature, time and death
Eternal themes from his breath.
Telling fortunes from stars in the skies
or seeing knowledge in your lover’s eyes.
Don’t praise your lover too much – otherwise
future readers will say – “This poet lies.”
The romantic comparison – “to a summer’s day” –
gives everlasting life to what he will say.
There is a master – mistress of his passion,
a man who he loves and dotes on.
He must learn to read adoration in his eyes,
that is where this ‘silent love’, will arise.
Maybe what he cannot say, he can write,
and in his mind he can indulge at night.
He grows melancholy with this endless contemplating,
but decides he wouldn’t change places with a king.
With increased melancholy his mind bends
as he thinks of death and of dead friends.
A deceased lover mentioned in the line?
And then to say – “he was but one hour mine.”
His love feels battered by a storm in pain,
but the beloved has redeemed himself again.
He, as others, has his faults,
but a lover forgives such assaults.
He thinks a public outing would not be in sight;
as, “I made lame by Fortune’s dearest spite.”
He wishes for the best emotionally,
then ten times happy he will be.
They must have discussed this predicament,
not wanting it to be public entertainment.
He must be content to use his muse in verse,
or – “For every vulgar paper to rehearse.”
Then love is betrayed and in distress
when his lover courts his mistress.
Two beautiful people attracted to each other
for him, both loves gone to another!
Love has become torture, deceit and regret,
he is wretched, and does not want to forget.
He dreams of his love in his sleep.
Those memories are so very deep.
Then his lover leaves and goes away.
He thinks of reaching him every day.
“For nimble thought can jump both sea and land.”
That is how our poet’s thoughts expand.
This pursuit of an ex-love – an obsession for him,
as he fights against his best memories being dim.
He recognizes the slavery of love, even in absence;
a compulsion not to let go or use common sense.
He sees his face – “beated and chopp’d with tanned antiquity”
and realizes that he no longer has his youth and beauty.
Time inevitably steals away our attributes
and leaves us few if any substitutes.
He says, “Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate.”
He knows there will be ruin by a mate.
Has this experience of love and hate
taught him to be a life graduate?
He is redeemed by being able to write –
“but in black ink my love may still shine bright.”
He comes to terms with what we see –
drifting in and out of melancholy.
What we see compared to what is,
a mind reformation that is his.
Then he seems to write lines to his wife.
She is now to be part of his life?
Those lines that have a puzzle game –
“That every word doth almost tell my name.”
Another line that has a puzzle, indeed –
“and keep invention in a noted weed.”
A mirror will display for one to see –
“Times thievish progress to eternity.”
And then we come to puzzle number three –
something that is from “Thy brain… shall profit thee.”
Admitting that – “my love was my decay” –
is something that he didn’t have to say.
If you have any doubts about the authorship question,
then read carefully sonnet number 81.
It contains a very poignant swan song;
another’s name will be remembered when he has gone.
That name will be on his “gentle verse”;
to be forgotten will be his own curse.
He has shown another such devotion
and is willing to give him this promotion.
He accepts that his death will be a finality,
making an author’s sacrifice for eternity.
Those words will be worthy with power and vitality.
He knows that the future will see his pen’s quality.
We are told that the author is the donor;
the recipient has the name of Shakespeare.
His new love gains some flattery anew
“Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue.”
He so much wants to her to belong
that he accepts to bear all wrong.
He says he is keen to communicate.
He wants to be considerate.
He hints at a love triangle again,
which will surely bring more pain.
But it sounds like the romance is over,
and there may be another lover.
He then makes a heartfelt plea –
“Thy love is better than high birth to me.”
He fears her faithlessness he will find.
“Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind.”
He tortures himself that she will estrange.
It “is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strange.”
There is deceit caused by such a wedge.
“The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.”
Meanwhile, in the midst of all his fretting,
he says that all looks good in the right setting.
He compares love’s absence and presence to nature
and hopes his muse will be in his future,
enshrined in his writing lovingly –
“and to be praised of ages yet to be.”
“Then do thy office Muse; I teach thee how.”
Could the poet have traded his talent for his love now?
He speaks again of a man he has loved for three years.
The false lady has now gone complete with his sneers.
The love addict has got a new fixation –
somebody else to suit the situation.
He admits that his heart has – “another youth,”
and perhaps he has overlooked the truth.
He feels that he has made himself foolish.
When will this saga ever finish?
He has “sold cheap what is most dear,”
Is this his work – it is not clear?
Will the addict’s latest fix satisfy his needs?
Who is – “the guilty goddess of my harmful deeds?”
Could she be a reference to Margery, his mother,
who married soon after his father’s death, to another?
A friend’s pity will cure his regrets,
but what about any public threats?
He talks of “vulgar scandal” in the air.
“In so profound abysm I throw all care.”
He hopes his love stands by him as love grows.
He must always be uncertain whether it’s a pose.
Sonnet 116 gives those most famous lines –
“Love is not love – which alters when it alteration finds.”
But for him it all begins to fall apart again
when he doubts the constancy and virtue – in pain.
He recognizes that love can be sick, ill, or diseased,
and you no longer feel exhilarated, but teased.
He becomes bitter about “ruined love”, “maddening fever.”
He has regrets that this relationship will sever.
He describes how an abandoned love will feel.
“Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel.”
To show how distraught he has become,
he talks of “trespass” and “ransome.”
He doesn’t care what others think of him,
his situation has become quite grim.
Sonnet 124 has phrases that should be heard –
“child of state, smiling pomp, Fortune’s bastard.”
Also, “hugely politic” and “the fools of Time.”
Some good descriptions within his lines.
Sonnet 125 says, “I bore the canopy” –
that is a very exclusive company.
And the phrase – “obsequious in thy heart” –
gives low marks on the genuine chart.
And this “suborned informer” – corrupted,
truth destroyed by a witness thus bribed.
He has a black beauty mistress with raven-black eyes.
Will she replace the “lovely boy” as his main prize?
But too soon it disintegrates as well,
“To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.”
He becomes manic-depressive in his praise.
She is like a precious jewel in many ways;
and yet her face would not make “love groan.”
At the end of this sonnet, he surely puts her down.
“In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds,
And thence this slander as I think proceeds.”
In the next sonnet’s last two lines,
he redeems her appearance as – fine.
“Then I will swear beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.”
Then a schizophrenic scene on three levels,
a threesome playing love’s rebels.
His lover and mistress a strange cuckold,
as he says, “A torment thrice threefold.”
“So now I have confessed that he is thine.”
There are now three poor planets trine.
Caught up in this split personality
is not where he wanted to be.
“Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me,”
in this upsetting trilogy.
Then there is a play in words of – “Will.”
Puns and hidden meanings to instill.
“Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will.”
Is a reference to WS possible?
He uses the word – will – twelve times.
And then he uses it seven more times.
The use of the word has become obsessive.
No mention at all of the word – forgive.
“Will will fulfil the treasury of thy love.”
No word of wanting him or her to remove.
A comment that would taste like a bitter pill –
“And then thou lov’st me for my name is Will.”
Edward was nicknamed “Willy” by his friends,
or “Will” if you removed the – y – where it ends.
A comment on the old saying of – love is blind.
Our poet has that sentiment on his mind.
“Thou blind fool Love, what dost thou to mine eyes.”
As if to look and see at some disguise.
He knows that his lady love lies.
Maybe he should her chastise.
He indulges in the word play on – lies.
It is hard not to sympathize.
“Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
and in our faults by lies we flattered be.”
In this situation is no sincerity.
He feels so wounded by this same lady.
It is the negative side of love we see.
“Kill me outright with looks, and rid my pain.”
He has probably felt her disdain.
He pleads – “Be wise as thou art cruel.”
As if wisdom resurrects the fool.
He sees his world disintegrate
as he speaks of love, sin and hate.
He describes a mother, who, her baby leaves,
after some distraction she then retrieves.
“So I will pray that thou mayst have thy Will,
if thou turn back and my loud crying still.”
There’s that ‘Will’ – again – could it be WS?
It is for him to know, and for us to guess.
“Two loves I have, of comfort and despair.
The better angel is a man right fair.
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.”
He prefers the man and loves him still.
“For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
who art as black as hell, as dark as night.”
I wonder why he does not give up on both instead
of torturing himself inside his poor head.
“Where is my judgment fled?”
Is the addict only cured when dead?
He is eaten up again by betrayal and cheating,
he will either learn from mistakes or continue bleating.
In the final verse he invokes Cupid!
Which I think a poor end, and rather stupid!
Yes, I can say, with thoughts sincere,
that we are – eVer yours – de Vere.