Shakespeare (Sonnet 116)


[“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/Within his bending sickle’s compass come” (Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116)]

Alle Ginsberg on Shakespeare’s Sonnets continues

AG: Well, let’s get on with a couple more (What time do we have?) – Here’s one that I wanted to get to (we don’t have to do all of them) – (Sonnet) 116 (page 216) – The most perfect examples of logopoeia. Now to get to the heart of the logopoeia – “dance of the intellect among words” or intellection among words – “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments.” – Does anybody know that one? – “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments.” Anybody read that before? – [show of hands] – Some – Okay, this is one of my favorites..

Student: Sonnet..?

AG: One-sixteen – We’ll do the next two. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments.” (That means, “don’t..”, I’m not going to admit that it’s possible that true minds can’t get together. I can’t admit any impediment to true minds getting together, getting married.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Well, what I was liking there was just pure language play, was “Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds” (just the switches -” alters when it alteration finds,/
Or bends with the remover to remove”) – “bends with the remover to remove” (meaning, that if someone comes to try to remove it, or  push you around, or say, “No, it ain’t love”, it “bends (to) the remover” – and so, “Well, maybe it ain’t love”, and  “maybe I shouldn’t see my girlfriend/my boyfriend, because maybe it ain’t really true love”. It doubts itself – “bends with the remover to remove” – or, if the FBI says, “Tom Hayden is an agent”, “bends with the FBI”, says Tom Hayden is an agent”, that Leroi Jones- (he) “bends with the remover to remove” – LeRoi Jones denounced Tom Hayden in 1968 in Newark because he got a secret message from the FBI, (not knowing it was the FBI), speaking of black brothers, that Tom Hayden was setting fire to the ghettos of Newark. And so he denounced Tom Hayden –
“the remover to remove”.  In other words, you know,  “goes along”.. goes along with the delusion. True love wouldn’t do that. I’m just saying, true love wouldn’t “bend with the remover to remove”,

And then, “Love’s not Time’s fool” (Love not the fool of Time)- Time…. Changing times can’t make a fool of love. or can’t make a changer of Love, (the) fooling changer – (not so much an idiot, but fool) – “Love’s not Time’s fool though rosy lips and cheeks/Within his bending sickle’s compass come” (that’s really pretty, but that’s the good, the good witty language – “rosy lips and cheeks” come “within his bended sickle” – (Father Time with his sickle, or scythe) – “Rosy lips” (roses – a little image – all these roses of the lips and cheeks are mown down by Time with his big scythe, by the compass, or curve, of the bending sickle) – “bending sickle’s compass” – the bending sickle” – “sickle’s compass” is this big curved scythe of Time – you know, Time, Old Father Time with the big scythe? Everybody know that image or not? Anybody not? You know, Father Time with his big long scythe with which you mow the grass? So all the roses are mowed by time and I think in illustrations for The Rubyait of Omar Khayyam and to this poem sometimes you get a skelton crowned with roses with a big scythe going through going through the garden and cutting down all the roses). Okay. “Rosy lips and cheeks” within Time’s bending..curve..and also bending down.. sickle – (compass? – that is, a compass, or rondeau, as well as compass of, I suppose, plot-compass, time-compass, space-compass – “encompassing” – within time’s encompassing bending sickle” – come – “compass come” – it’s fully compassionate compass encompassing – the physical compass – north, south, east, west – “though rosy lips and cheeks/Within his bending sickle’s compass come” – So a couple of things that are interesting there. Dig how you get this funny syncopation by the total vernacularity of that – It cometh within Time’s bending sickle’s compass – it’s like, you know, Tom Hayden helicopters… Tom Hayden’s helicoptor’s wheel, or something – “bending sickle’s compass” – it’s actually totally vernacular, in the sense of all the contractions – “time’s bending sickle’s compass” – “sickle’s” – it’s a … See, a bad poem would be “Rosy lips and cheeks come within the bending sickle of time’s compass”, but he eliminated the possessive – “of” (possessive particle) and said “bending sickle’s compass come” – so it’s totally condensed, total condensation – “bending sickle’s compass come” – totally pretty – “bending sickle’s compass come” – totally intelligent, as far as what it’s saying -“bending sickle’s compass come”,  and then totally prettied up with that “rosy lips and cheeks/ Within his bending sickle’s compass come” – So a really concentrated poetry there.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-five minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-one-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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