Shakespeare – Sonnet 20


Portrait of 16th Century Flemish gentleman, artist unknown

A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Much steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

AG: That’s (Shakespeare)  Sonnet 20

PO: Can you read it once more. I couldn’t follow that at all, it’s so complicated.

AG Ok class dunce!..

PO: I don’t want to hang you up or anything.

AG: Oh well, okay..Did everybody understand that?

Student: I didn’t.

AG: Oh, Okay, then we’ll do it line-by-line then –  “A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted” – (So he looks feminine, or girly-pretty, or beautiful, like womanly), “painted with nature’s own hands’ – (without lipstick) – “Hast thou” (you have) you have a woman’s face), “the master mistress of my passion” – (master-mistress!) – “A woman’s gentle heart but not acquainted/ With shifting change” (in other words, it was not fickle like a woman), a “gentle heart”, (gentle like a woman, but not shickle and fisting (sic!)) – “as is false women’s fashion”, (meaning that either a false woman goes that way, or women are all false and they all are like that) – “An eye brighter than a girl.. “An eye more bright than theirs less false and rolling. (In other words, if his boyfriend rolls his eyes when he’s coming while he’s being blown, it’s less false, it’s, like, real emotion, rather than some girl that goes.., that fakes orgasm – something like that – Someone wrote a poem about that! – someone wrote a poem about that!) – “An eye more bright than theirs less false and rolling”  (total male chauvinist poem!) – “Gilding the object whereupon it gazes”  (making pretty..golden, making golden all the objects that the eye looks on, that his eye is…

PO: Is this to his boyfriend?

AG: Yeah – A man – “A woman’s face with Nature’s own hands painted”, “Hast thou, the master-mistress..”, my passion’s “master-mistress”

PO: What painted it? – Nature?

AG: Nature painted it, instead of the girl painting herself up with rouge and lipstick – “with nature’s own hand painted”, (rather than with human hand painted, or lady’s hand painted). – “A man in hue,,,” (I don’t know what “hue” means? What does “hue” mean?

PO: Color?

AG: Appearance

PO: Oh, appearance

AG: A man in appearance, apparently,  “hue” would be… ”A man in appearance, all appearances in his controlling’ –[“A man in hue, all hues in his controlling’], (A man in his… A man, by appearance, controlling all appearances by his appearance -So beautiful that everybody’s attracted) – “Much steals men’s eyes..”   (so even the men are interested – like, “Wow! who was that?”) – “..and women’s souls”  (steals men’s eyes, but gets into the women and their souls – they’re amazed too by how beautiful he is) . And the probably bisexual or homosexual in nature  – “And for a woman wert thou first created” (You know, first created to be a woman – except, you were so beautiful when nature made you, when Mother Nature made you. she fell in love with you too – and so added one thing that she could fuck you with which is…your prick!) –  “And by addition” (sic), “,Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting” (Nature, as she wrought his boyfriend, Mr W.H., fell doting on him too and said, “Well, this is too good to be a woman, I think I’ll…- or, if it’s a woman, I don’t think I’ll be able to make love unless I turn into a dyke, so I better make him a man and give him a prick”) . So “..Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting” “And by addition”  (by addition – by adding one thing) – “me of thee defeated”  (by adding one thing defeated me, so I can’t have you, adding a prick, by adding on a cock, that means that…

PO: Shakespeare? defeated who? Shakespeare?

AG: Yeah, defeated Shakespeare. Because if it was a woman then Shakespeare would have fucked this beautiful person as a woman, but (it/he) was so beautiful that Mother Nature fell in love with him and said I want to fuck him myself so Mother Nature gave him a prick.

PO: Oh!

AG: So Nature, actually, “as she wrought thee, fell a-doting/And by addition me of thee defeated”– “By adding one thing”, (by adding one thing -the prick)  “to my purpose nothing” (By adding one thing, by adding a prick to you, it was nothing to my purpose, because, that means it robbed me of the opportunity to fuck the person as a girl).. So Shakespeare throws up his hands and says, “But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure”,  (She gave thee a prick for the pleasure of women – “prick’d thee out”,  which also means “adorned thee”, or pricked thee out in fine fancy clothes – but here he just says “prick’d thee out” – and of course, “prick’d thee out” means “marked you out” – prick’d you.. prick’d you on the board, (like) where you’re pricking out names for the roll, or “prick’d thee out”, “prick” meant prick -added a phallus) – “But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure”  (“Well, ok, I’ll love you, and, as far as the use of your love, well, that’ll be their pleasure”) – “Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure“ – “their treasure”                 – – That at all make sense?

You all understand that before, didn’t you, mostly? – or did you? You know, half the time I don’t explain things because I think that they’re obvious. I.. I mean, half the time, the reason I don’t pause seems.. I thought it’s understood, or maybe you’d read (it) beforeHow many had read this sonnet before? (a few in the class raise their hands, but only a few) – Oh, I see, so this is new. Okay. Well, that’s one of the funny key sonnets in the series

Student (Pat): Do you think maybe he uses “prick’d thee out”  as sort of a pun on “picked thee out”, because it means more…

AG: It means “pick thee out”. See, like, when you have a roll call, sometimes they used to do it with a prick of the pen, or the punch of a hole and the paper pricking out. And the footnote here says “prick” means “mark you out”, or…

PO: Check. Check you out.

AG: Check. Check you out. Check you out, with a little pin in the paper or something – or “prick” as a phallus. So it’s a pun. That’s the logopoeic “dance of the intellect among words”. This is a purely out, purely that.. that variety of poetics where it’s really in (this) instance, witty intelligence – saying it in the most courteous and charming, non-commital way as possible, saying this outright bald bold-front faggot poem, but in the sweetest and most masculinely, manly, courteous, punning double-entendre possible. But that is a funny line – “Since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure” – ( because it means, you know, “prick’d thee out”, what does he say? – it’s almost “picked thee out”).  Funny idea.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at seventeen-and-three-quarter and concluding at approximately twenty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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