It’s been a while since the last (and first) Bard Brawl’s sonnets podcast but we’re back with the second installment of Shakespeare’s sonnets, as read by our lovely sonneteers. And just in time for Saint-Valentine’s day.
I’ve taken the liberty of ‘translating’ the main argument (that’s sort of the plot or central progression of images of the poem) into something close to my own version of everyday English.
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Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill’d:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure, ere it be self-kill’d.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thyself to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
Then what could death do, if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-will’d, for thou art much too fair,
To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.
Argument: Don’t let old age get to you! Find a way to bottle some of those youthful good looks for later… hey, I have an idea: if you have ten kids and they have ten kids, then you’ll have a hundred copies of your awesomeness! FYI, if you don’t then the only people who get a piece of your beauty are the worms who will eat your corpse. Just saying.
Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climb’d the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage;
But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, ‘fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract and look another way:
So thou, thyself out-going in thy noon,
Unlook’d on diest, unless thou get a son.
Argument: In the morning (and when you’re young) everybody looks up admiringly at you. And even when you get a little older but are still young-ish like sun at noon, then people still want to be and get with you. But once you’re old and ugly, no one cares to pay any attention to you anymore. So, unless you have a son, you will die alone and unnoticed. (Ouch!)
Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lovest thou that which thou receivest not gladly,
Or else receivest with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘thou single wilt prove none.’
Argument: Why are you annoyed by beautiful music? If you’re annoyed by harmony that’s because they’re making fun of your refusal to seek out a harmonious marriage. In the end, a family is like music with father, mother and child where together the create something beautiful and proper. Their message? You can’t make either music or children alone.
Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
That thou consumest thyself in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee, like a makeless wife;
The world will be thy widow and still weep
That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
When every private widow well may keep
By children’s eyes her husband’s shape in mind.
Look what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unused, the user so destroys it.
No love toward others in that bosom sits
That on himself such murderous shame commits.
Argument: Oh, I get it: you don’t want to find a wife because you’re afraid that you’ll just make her sad if you die before her. But, think about how much worse it would be to die with no children? Then everybody else will be bawling because there’s no one around with your special blend of dashing good looks. At least a widow can remember her husband through her children! So, if you don’t have any kids you destroy yourself. And so that makes you a murderer for being so selfish and self-centered.
For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any,
Who for thyself art so unprovident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lovest is most evident;
For thou art so possess’d with murderous hate
That ‘gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire.
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love?
Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove:
Make thee another self, for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.
Argument: You’re kind of a jerk, you know that? All of these people love you and yet you don’t love any of them back! In fact, you’re willing to kill yourself and deny everyone your wonderful self. You’re getting older by the minute and you should totally deal with that ASAP instead of just pretending it’s not happening. How can I convince you to have a kid? If you won’t do it for yourself, then have a little pity and do it for me.
As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou growest
In one of thine, from that which thou departest;
And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow’st
Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest.
Herein lives wisdom, beauty and increase:
Without this, folly, age and cold decay:
If all were minded so, the times should cease
And threescore year would make the world away.
Let those whom Nature hath not made for store,
Harsh featureless and rude, barrenly perish:
Look, whom she best endow’d she gave the more;
Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish:
She carved thee for her seal, and meant thereby
Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.
Argument: As you get older, you kids will grow up and eventually look like you do now, pre-old man. having kids is the beautiful, wise and right thing to do. Not having kids is stupid and you’ll grow old senile and alone. What if everybody decided not to have kids? Thin in thirty years there would be no one left. Sure, ugly people shouldn’t have kids but, come on: you’re one of the pretty ones! So, print up some copies of yourself for the sake of the human race!
Stay tuned for more poetry coming soon!
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