Shakespeare (Sonnet 147)

Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) – detail from The Falling of the Damned into Hell  (1482)

AG: I don’t know. Let’s see.. The one with the..Well, it’s much later, Sonnet 147, when “Hell” (the image of the cunt, incidentally, in the Shakespeare Sonnets) spurts fire (which is the infection). There’s a whole bunch of stuff in here that’s alluded to and some scholars get with. And in this edition, it’s in the footnotes, actually.

Student: Which edition?

AG: This is a Signet edition.The Sonnet 147 (look it up, you don’t have it, I don’t think) – Sonnet 147 does have some.. is considered by some to be a reference to that. It’s

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic [medicine] did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly express’d;
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

That’s where he wound-up with this love-affair. You know,  he wound up totally embittered. That’s almost the third-from-the-end, or the fourth-from-the-end, of the Sonnets. Well, where we are…

Student: (It’s all to the same affair?)

AG: Pardon me?

Student: (Are you sure it’s all to the same…? )

AG: No, but if you read him consecutively, it sounds like it, or could be. It might be many affairs, it might be, you know, the interpretations might be upside-down, the arrangement of the sonnets might be different. It was considered by some that these were privately circulated and were published without his permission, that these were, you know, his private sonnets for his friends and his boyfriend, that they were addressed to his boyfriend, and in those days it was probably as shameful, in terms of (the) public as it might be now, somebody came on like this

Student: And it’s against the law too

AG:  (What was against the law in those days?)

Student: (Piracy)

AG: Yeah .Probably. Even in Elizabethan times?

Student: Well, publishing them like that would be,,,

AG: Well, they were published though. It was.. I think it was.. Were they first published under Shakespeare’s name? or were they anonymous?

Student: I thought they were passed around in manuscript.

AG: Yeah, but then when they were printed. Somebody got them, got them and printed them

Student: Somebody stole them then?

AG: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying, but were they stolen and printed under Shakespeare’s name do you know?

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

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