Friday, April 23, 2004

From Pablo:

It's the immortal Shakespeare's birthday. (By tradition. Records show only his baptismal day and his birthday was guessed from that.) I can think of several great Sonnets that contain gloomy meditations on time and mortality and the poet's own aging. What some people think about on birthdays.

But Bebere wants something cheerier for this rainy day. Well, there are also many sonnets about beating time and mortality through the immortalization in verse. Usually the poem says that the beloved will survive in verse though the poet will be forgot. But of course the irony is that Shakespeare is universally famous now while even the identity of the beloved in the Sonnets is not certainly known. (Though perhaps the double irony is that if Shakespeare is known, it's almost entirely from his work -- the details of his life are scant and the autobiographical interpretations of the works are only conjectural.)

However Sonnet 74 is one where it's the poet himself who lives on in the verse. I really like the related sequence of four that ends with 74, especially 73, though the first three are of the gloomier type that we will not revisit today.

But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead;
The coward conquest of a wretch's knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.

Or one might say, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? More commentary.

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