Shakespeare (Sonnet 35)


Allen Ginsberg on Shakespeare’s Sonnets (continuing from here)

No more be griev’d at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
(Thy adverse party is thy advocate)
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate
That I an accessary needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

AG: (So) then, (in) the next one, (Sonnet 35), he (Shakespeare) decides, it’s a big forgiveness thing. So, actually, what you see is, going through all the racks and torments of everybody’s ordinary, deep-early love-affair (everybody’s had all these feelings and gone through this whole cycle), but.. So.. what the whole sonnet-sequence is, is like a little novel, a love-story novel – the whole cycle of the love, (beginning with the glimpse, falling in love, big crush, making out, total delight, a little problem, forgiveness, getting together again), but then, there unfolds (also) a drama, as it goes along, hinted at here and there – there are lots of theories – whether it was an actor that he’s talking about, or a gigolo who makes it with men, (or is particularly specialized in making it with poets), or a rich prince, a rich young prince who was very vain and digs making it with poets who write poems to him, and goes from poet to poet making them all jealous, but (and) finally digs chicks more really..Yes.. go on.. yes?

Student: Are these written chronologically?

AG: Nobody knows

Student: ..or did he do some of them later?

AG: (W.H.) Auden has a Preface to the book I have- the Signet Classics Shakespeare, in which he says nobody knows. (And) the order of the Sonnets is arranged differently. The order of this, (as I read them in the Signet book), the general order they’re put in these days, does tell a story, of a kind (with some lacunae, lapses and breaks)..

Last year, I was in a situation like this, and got really hung-up on some kid (in 1975), going through big torments, along with him in another city (we were living together (and) he wasn’t making it with me, he was tormenting me), and I read through the Sonnets, and it was perfect! – you know, from total love to total hate, you know, or total love to disappointment, and then renewal, and then more hope, and then, you know, total delight, and “Oh, what? he was just tricking me” , and then… )

So it seemed to me realistic, really realistic, in so far as an account of a..a cycle of the heart, which people, (Auden and others), guess a three-year cycle, three-year crush, the events of about three years.

So the next is forgiveness, then he’s powerful again, so that “Not marble nor the gilded monuments..” (which we looked at before) will “outlive this powerful rhyme”

{Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-eight-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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