BB: Short Poems, Sonnets 12-17

Artwork - Leigh McRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

This podcast did not upload to iTunes originally. I’m reposting in the hopes that I’ve corrected the problem. Apologies from the Bard Brawl.

— DJR.

This week, we’re continuing with the next six sonnets in Shakespeare’s cycle, sonnets 12 to 17. As always, these sonnets are read by our lovely volunteer sonneteers.

Listen to or download the podcast.

Here’s where you can listen to sonnets 1-5, and 6-11, in case you missed them the first time.

So, why have we arbitrarily decided to end our recording with sonnet 17? Because (as those who have been following along will know) these first 17 of Shakespeare’s sonnets are generally lumped together because they are all addressed to an unknown young nobleman and written to encourage him to go forth and multiply.

This group of 17 sonnets has since been given the oh-so-poetic name of “procreation sonnets” by Shakespearean scholars.

Sonnet 12 (Episode: Henry VI, Part I, Act V, Read by: Kayla Cross)

Kayla Cross
Kayla Cross

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

Argument: When I look at the signs of time’s passage like the sky darkening as the sun sets, or leaves falling from trees when winter’s coming, it makes me think about your beauty. let’s be honest: you’re not getting any younger, and sooner than you think, you’ll be dead and gone. But, beauty grows as fast as it fades. Don’t leave yourself defenseless against the passage of time – have some kids!

Sonnet 13 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act V, Read by: Stephanie E.M. Coleman)

Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Stephanie E.M. Coleman

O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give.
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination: then you were
Yourself again after yourself’s decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold
Against the stormy gusts of winter’s day
And barren rage of death’s eternal cold?
O, none but unthrifts! Dear my love, you know
You had a father: let your son say so.

Argument: You’re not going to be around forever so you should give away some of your good looks away. You’re really only leasing your beauty – you’ll lose it unless you can find someone to inherit it. And seeing as you inherited it from your father who took good care of it, make sure to have a son who can be thankful to you for having kept your family attractiveness in near-mint condition.

Sonnet 14 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act I, Read by: Maya Pankalla)

Maya Pankalla
Maya Pankalla

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

Argument: Listen, I can’t predict the future by looking at the stars, the planets or the weather. But, I can see in your eyes that truth and beauty go hand in hand. So, if you won’t have any kids then I can predict this: truth and beauty will die when you die. (And that’s bad.)

Sonnet 15 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Read by: Melissa Myers)

Melissa Myers
Melissa Myers

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and cheque’d even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

Argument: Everything that grows is perfect and ripe for just a few moments, and appearances are often deceiving. Also, the same sun watches over both plants and people. So, when I see that you are fresh-looking and beautiful and will be always, I need to remind myself that this is not really the case: time and decay are killing you even as we speak. But, while time takes away your youth and beauty, I give it back to you in my poetry!

Sonnet 16 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act II, Read by: Miki Laval)

Miki Laval
Miki Laval

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens yet unset
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time’s pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

Argument: Why don’t you wage war with time properly and find a better way to defeat it than to rely on my poetry? There are plenty of women right now who would love to have your kids which, let’s face it, make better duplicates than paintings. My poetry just isn’t going to be good enough, man. You need to use your own… er, pen to create a copy of yourself.

Sonnet 17 (Episode: Henry VI, Part I, Act III, Read by: Hannah Dorozio)

Hannah Dorozio
Hannah Dorozio

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’
So should my papers yellow’d with their age
Be scorn’d like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.

Argument: No one’s going to believe my poems about you in the future even if it’s filled with details about just how awesome you are. Really, my poems will leave out way more than they can show. They’ll just think I made all of this stuff up. Unless one of your descendants were around so they could see that you live again: in your son’s life and in my kick-ass poems!

(Podcast recorded and edited by Daniel J. Rowe, Show notes by Eric Jean)

Stay in touch, Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

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BB: Short Poems, Sonnets 12-17

Artwork - Leigh McRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

This podcast did not upload to iTunes originally. I’m reposting in the hopes that I’ve corrected the problem. Apologies from the Bard Brawl.

— DJR.

This week, we’re continuing with the next six sonnets in Shakespeare’s cycle, sonnets 12 to 17. As always, these sonnets are read by our lovely volunteer sonneteers.

Listen to or download the podcast.

Here’s where you can listen to sonnets 1-5, and 6-11, in case you missed them the first time.

So, why have we arbitrarily decided to end our recording with sonnet 17? Because (as those who have been following along will know) these first 17 of Shakespeare’s sonnets are generally lumped together because they are all addressed to an unknown young nobleman and written to encourage him to go forth and multiply.

This group of 17 sonnets has since been given the oh-so-poetic name of “procreation sonnets” by Shakespearean scholars.

Sonnet 12 (Episode: Henry VI, Part I, Act V, Read by: Kayla Cross)

Kayla Cross
Kayla Cross

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

Argument: When I look at the signs of time’s passage like the sky darkening as the sun sets, or leaves falling from trees when winter’s coming, it makes me think about your beauty. let’s be honest: you’re not getting any younger, and sooner than you think, you’ll be dead and gone. But, beauty grows as fast as it fades. Don’t leave yourself defenseless against the passage of time – have some kids!

Sonnet 13 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act V, Read by: Stephanie E.M. Coleman)

Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Stephanie E.M. Coleman

O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give.
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination: then you were
Yourself again after yourself’s decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold
Against the stormy gusts of winter’s day
And barren rage of death’s eternal cold?
O, none but unthrifts! Dear my love, you know
You had a father: let your son say so.

Argument: You’re not going to be around forever so you should give away some of your good looks away. You’re really only leasing your beauty – you’ll lose it unless you can find someone to inherit it. And seeing as you inherited it from your father who took good care of it, make sure to have a son who can be thankful to you for having kept your family attractiveness in near-mint condition.

Sonnet 14 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act I, Read by: Maya Pankalla)

Maya Pankalla
Maya Pankalla

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

Argument: Listen, I can’t predict the future by looking at the stars, the planets or the weather. But, I can see in your eyes that truth and beauty go hand in hand. So, if you won’t have any kids then I can predict this: truth and beauty will die when you die. (And that’s bad.)

Sonnet 15 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Read by: Melissa Myers)

Melissa Myers
Melissa Myers

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and cheque’d even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

Argument: Everything that grows is perfect and ripe for just a few moments, and appearances are often deceiving. Also, the same sun watches over both plants and people. So, when I see that you are fresh-looking and beautiful and will be always, I need to remind myself that this is not really the case: time and decay are killing you even as we speak. But, while time takes away your youth and beauty, I give it back to you in my poetry!

Sonnet 16 (Episode: Merchant of Venice, Act II, Read by: Miki Laval)

Miki Laval
Miki Laval

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens yet unset
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time’s pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

Argument: Why don’t you wage war with time properly and find a better way to defeat it than to rely on my poetry? There are plenty of women right now who would love to have your kids which, let’s face it, make better duplicates than paintings. My poetry just isn’t going to be good enough, man. You need to use your own… er, pen to create a copy of yourself.

Sonnet 17 (Episode: Henry VI, Part I, Act III, Read by: Hannah Dorozio)

Hannah Dorozio
Hannah Dorozio

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’
So should my papers yellow’d with their age
Be scorn’d like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.

Argument: No one’s going to believe my poems about you in the future even if it’s filled with details about just how awesome you are. Really, my poems will leave out way more than they can show. They’ll just think I made all of this stuff up. Unless one of your descendants were around so they could see that you live again: in your son’s life and in my kick-ass poems!

(Podcast recorded and edited by Daniel J. Rowe, Show notes by Eric Jean)

Stay in touch, Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

BB: Merchant of Venice, Act II

The Bard Brawlers go through Act II of the Merchant of Venice.

Listen to the podcast – here -. Download the podcast.

(and, yes, you do hear Daniel J. Rowe say “Bard Ball.” The play on words still works.)

A lot of scenes in this one, but most of them pretty short.

In scene one, the action returns to Belmont. While most of the suitors have left the estate, the Prince of Morocco has remained and intends to try his luck. The conditions of the game are made explicit for our (the audience’s) benefit: if he picks the box with her picture in it, he wins the girl, the estate and all of her father’s fortune. If he fails, he has to leave and can’t ever marry. This thread is continued in scene seven where he actually makes his choice.  It works out great for Portia, so poorly for him. In scene nine the second suitor, the Prince of Aragon, makes his choice and doesn’t fare any better. The way is now clear for Bassanio’s big move.

A common complaint about the Merchant of Venice concerns the contrived nature of the three casket test to win Portia. There’s a very simple reason for that. Shakespeare adapted that aspect of the story from a tale in a collection of medieval romances called the Gesta Romanorum. This was a long collection of stories originally compiled in Latin but eventually translated into most of the vernacular languages of Europe. These stories were supposed to serve (among other things) as exemplars of morality in Christian sermons. Therefore, they were not expected to be realistic. It is very likely that many people in Shakespeare’s audience would have understood the reference to the Tale of the Three Caskets as well.

In scene two, Lancelot – Shylock’s servant – debates to himself whether he should stay and serve a bad master, or break his promise to serve Shylock and flee to a new master. He plays a trick on his father and together they ask Bassanio to allow Lancelot to serve him. He embarks with Bassanio and Gratiano for Belmont on the evening tide. (I’m not sure what happens to Old Gobbo in the end. Hmm…)

Scene three is very short but introduces us to the character of Jessica for the first time as Lancelot says his goodbyes to her.

In scene four – one of the many ‘dude scenes’ – Lorenzo explains to his buddies how he intends to steal away with Jessica and enlists their help to sneak her away from her father and Venice.

Shylock takes his leave of Jessica in scene five when he leaves to meet Antonio and some of the others for a supper he has no desire to attend. Shylock instructs Jessica to lock the doors and windows and to ignore the masquers outside. He has no idea that she intends to run away.

In scene six Salerio, Solanio and Gratiano are waiting on Lorenzo who is late to meet them. When he finally arrives, they go together to steal Jessica away. She brings a bunch of Shylock’s money with her and they run off and eventually meet up with Bassanio and company at Belmont.

Scene eight has Solanio and Salerio discussing Shylock’s reaction to Jessica elopement with Lorenzo. They describe Shylock walking through the streets screaming and crying about his loss of his daughter and of his money. Antonio and his ships are mentioned, which recalls the bond he has agreed to for Bassanio’s sake.

Some characters appearing in this act for the first time:

  • Morocco and Aragon: Princes and suitors to Portia. (She’s not a big fan for either).
  • Lancelot Gobbo: He’s Shylock’s servant, though the nature of his duties is not entirely clear. He leaves Shylock’s service in order to serve Bassanio. The dramatis personae often describes him as a clown. I can’t imagine his name is an accident but I’m not sure what the connection might be.
  • Old Gobbo: This is Lancelot’s father. He’s mostly blind and deaf and he seems to be senile as well. I suppose we’re meant to laugh at him but I can’t help feeling sorry for him.
  • Jessica: Shylock’s daughter and Lorenzo’s wife to be. She converts to Christianity and abandons her father in order to follow Lorenzo.

We’ll talk about the relationship between Lorenzo and Jessica a little more as it develops in subsequent acts (particularly in acts 4 and 5). However, I would pay very close attention to the exchanges between Lorenzo and Jessica throughout the play. Even in the very first scene where we see them together, there are signs that their relationship is off to a potentially rocky start. What’s surprising about Jessica is not only does she give at least as good as she gets in these exchanges but she also seems to suspect Lorenzo’s motives and sincerity right from the get go. I think Shakespeare’s asking us to seriously consider the costs and risks of love and trust. After all, this relationship is an invention on Shakespeare’s part and he doesn’t tend to invent lightly. I think he intends us to compare Lorenzo and Jessica to Bassanio and Portia (and maybe Antonio and Bassanio as well). Think about what Jessica is risking in running off with Lorenzo: if he should leave her, she would be left with nothing. And notice how flippant Lorenzo seems to be about the whole thing (douche!). In this respect, Jessica’s plight (and Antonio’s too, for that matter) is similar to the test with the caskets: the inscription on the lead casket says: “‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”

Bard on!

Stay in touch, Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

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