BB: Short Poems, Sonnets 24-29

Sonnets Brown

Happy New Year!

Welcome Brawlers to our first podcast of 2014 and the start of our third year of doing the show!

How awesome is that? Very.

We’re ready to help you out with your New Year’s resolution to increase your bardic intake! To start the year off right, today we’re sending a recording your way of sonnets 24 through 29, read by some of our amazing Sonnetters.

Listen to or download the podcast.

Sonnet 24 (Episode: Henry VI, part 1: Speeches, Read by: Erin Marie Byrnes)

Erin Byrnes
Erin Byrnes

Mine eye hath play’d the painter and hath stell’d
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is the painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

Argument: Picture this: my heart is a canvas, my body is an art gallery and my eyes are a painter. With me so far? My eyes then painted picture of you and put it on display in my body. When you look into my eyes, it’s like you’re looking in through the gallery windows. When the sun shines on the painting it makes it appear lifelike but here’s the problem: perspective is only a two-dimensional illusion that give the impression of three dimensions, it’s not the real thing.

(FYI/Helpful knowledge: Perspective in painting was the artistic discovery of the Renaissance. Kind of like 3-D television or printing.)

Sonnet 25 (Episode: King Lear, Act III, Read by: Zoey Baldwin)

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook’d for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil’d,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

Argument: Let the people who are lucky today gloat about what they have while I talk about what I’m lucky enough to have. People who are famous are subject to public opinion: it only takes one loss to ruin a fighter’s career or turn someone from a hero into a nobody. I’m happy then that my love isn’t subject to the whims of rulers and can’t be ruined by a change of fortune.

Sonnet 26 (Episode: Taming of the Shrew: Speeches, Read by: Laura Pellicer)

Laura Pellicer
Laura Pellicer

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written embassage,
To witness duty, not to show my wit:
Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it,
But that I hope some good conceit of thine
In thy soul’s thought, all naked, will bestow it;
Till whatsoever star that guides my moving
Points on me graciously with fair aspect
And puts apparel on my tatter’d loving,
To show me worthy of thy sweet respect:
Then may I dare to boast how I do love thee;
Till then not show my head where thou mayst prove me.

Argument: The point of this message isn’t to show you how clever I am but rather it is to show you how committed I am to serve you. I can’t really find the words to describe the extent of my loyalty but I hope that you’ll get the picture from my actions. I’ll keep working at in until I get lucky enough to catch your eye. Then, and only then, will I risk revealing my feelings for you.

Sonnet 27 (Episode: Twelfth Night, Act V, Read by: Hannah Dorozio)

Hannah Dorozio
Hannah Dorozio

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

Argument: After a long day of work, I can’t wait to get to bed to rest my tired body. But as soon as I fall asleep my mind starts racing after you. Even though my eyes are looking into the back of my eyelids, they can still make out your shape. So even though night is ugly, you’re like a shining gem which makes it beautiful. Basically, I can’t win: I just can’t seem to get any rest or peace at all.

Sonnet 28 (Episode: King Lear, Act II, Read by: Erin Marie Byrnes)

How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr’d the benefit of rest?
When day’s oppression is not eased by night,
But day by night, and night by day, oppress’d?
And each, though enemies to either’s reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me;
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day, to please them thou art bright
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion’d night,
When sparkling stars twire not thou gild’st the even.
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer
And night doth nightly make grief’s strength
seem stronger.

Argument: How can I be happy if day and night each make me tired? Though they’re supposed to be enemies, day and night have allied to make my life miserable. I try flattering the day by telling it that you’re like the sun. I tell the night that you’re like a bright star. But it’s not working: they both just keep making me more and more miserable.

Sonnet 29 (Episode: Twelfth Night, Act IV, Read by: Zoey Baldwin)

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Argument: At times I feel isolated and alone, unlucky and rejected by society. I get envious of other people’s success, good looks, friends or even their abilities or fame, and I no longer enjoy the things I’ve always liked. I almost end up hating myself. When that happens, I think about you and then I feel my spirits rise up. I feel so good about my life when I think about your love that I wouldn’t trade places with kings.

Next week, we start on a new play. Which play will be the Bard Brawl’s 9th play?

Send us your comments and suggestions or we’re just going to let the cats – Wako and Desdemona – decide.

Desdemona ("Dezzie")
Desdemona (“Dezzie”)

If you would like to lend your voice to the Bard Brawl and contribute a sonnet, or even a monologue or soliloquy, to the Bard Brawl, feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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BB: Henry VI Part 1, the Speeches

Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Welcome to the speeches of Henry VI, Part I.

Listen to the podcast – here

Download the podcast.

Unlike with our previous play, The Taming of the Shrew, we had no trouble finding speeches to fill an episode.

Really, as we’ve been saying all along with one, Henry VI, part 1 deserves a closer look. Hopefully some of these speeches can encourage you to go back and listen to the episodes you missed. (Not that you missed any, right?)

“How I am braved and must perforce endure it!” Act II, scene 4, lns 112-127
Speakers: Richard Plantagenet (and eventual Duke of York), Warwick
This excerpt is from the flower-picking scene in act II. Here we learn that Richard Plantagenet, whose father was accused of being a traitor and stripped of his titles, is likely to be restored to his family’s former status as Duke of York. Warwick seems certain of it. Warwick’s short speech also ends with a prophetic foreshadowing about the War of the Roses: “this brawl to-day, / Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden, / Shall send between the red rose and the white / A thousand souls to death and deadly night.” That does about sum it up. (Also, big plus on the use of the word “Brawl,’ Bard!)

“Thus the Mortimers, / In whom the tide rested, were suppress’d.” Act II, scene 5, lns 91-118
Speakers: Mortimer, Richard Plantagenet
Mortimer only appears in one scene on this play but it is a very crucial scene. We pick up on the end of their discussion but Mortimer provides the necessary history earlier. The current king Henry VI is the descendant of Henry IV who actually usurped the throne of Richard II. Mortimer himself, connected with the old regime, has spent most of his life imprisoned or banished. Now Mortimer informs Richard Duke of York that he is in fact descended from the previous line of kings. While Mortimer cannot see yet how to topple the house of Lancaster, he counsels York to bide his time until an opportunity should present itself.

“Look on thy country, look on fertile France…” Act III, scene 3, lns 44-85
Speaker: Pucelle, Burgundy
This is the scene where Joan la Pucelle convinces the Duke of Burgundy to ally himself with the French cause. What we found particularly interesting in this passage is Burgundy’s short response in the middle of Pucelle’s longer speech: “Either she hath bewitch’d me with her words, / Or nature makes me suddenly relent.” It’s a very good question. Which is it? Is Burgundy simply doing the natural thing in seeking to defend the ‘country’ of his birth? Is he in fact French, or is he English? It’s easy for us to say that Burgundy is French but the whole point here is that Burgundy easily could have remained an English territory. And Burgundy’s actions are largely the reason it went to the French. So, was any of this ‘natural?’

“Come hither, you that would be combatants” Act IV, scene 1, lns 133-173
Speaker: King Henry VI
King Henry doesn’t say much in the play and when he does speak, he generally just shows us how ineffectual a ruler he is. We picked this passage though because it showcases one of the few moments where King Henry actually gets it at least partially right. One the one hand, the first part of Henry’s speech is spot on; the English court is in france fighting the Dauphin’s forces. Showing a strong, united front is necessary in order to discourage any further rebellion from the French forces. However, he grossly misunderstands the nature of the division in his forces. We’ve seen the argument boiling and bubbling under the surface just waiting to erupt but Henry seems entirely oblivious to the extent of the division in his court. This scene really shows us Henry’s character as an idealist ill-suited to the throne.

“O, my dear lord, lo, where your son is borne!” Act IV, scene 7, ln 17-32
Speakers: Servant, Talbot
Talbot really is the central point of most of the play. He drives the war effort in France and he sends the French forces packing at the very mention of his name. Unfortunately, York and Suffolk’s squabbling leaves him unsupported and he and his son are overwhelmed and killed in battle. This is Talbot’s final speech. His dead son is brought in and he cradles him in his arms as he dies. I wrote about his passage when we did act IV. I mentioned that Talbot mentioned Daedalus and Icarus, flying towards the sun but what would that look like? Two angels floating up to Heaven. I think it’s a great little speech.

“First, let me tell you whom you have condemn’d…” Act V, scene 4, lns 36-59
Speakers: Pucelle, York, Warwick
This is Joan la Pucelle’s execution scene. While her burning doesn’t actually happen on stage, this is the preamble leading up to it. Here she is trying to convince York not to burn her. She first starts by suggesting that she may be of noble birth and she insists that she is a virgin. When she sees that this is not working, she changes her tune and states instead the she is pregnant. This is a very strange scene. On the one had, we just saw Joan speaking with demon a few scenes ago so we now have a pretty good idea that she is a witch. On the other hand, this scene shows us a group of powerful, older men trying to burn a young (and potentially pregnant) woman alive. As Daniel has pointed out, this would be a tricky scene to stage for a contemporary audience. Come to think of it, it’s almost criminal to think that no one has written a play inspired by this scene which deals precisely with these gender and power issues.

And that’s it for Henry VI, part 1!

Stay tuned for the next play – you definitely won’t want to miss it.

Bonus sonnet 24 read by first time sonneteer Erin Byrnes.

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

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Artwork - Leigh McRae
Artwork – Leigh McRae

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