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: King Lear, Act II

Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

Listen to or download the podcast. (Thank you to Jack Konorska for the intro music.)

Welcome Brawlers to act II of the absolutely awesome King Lear!

When we stopped at the end of act I, a whole whack of crazy stuff had already happened.

King Lear had disowned his daughter Cordelia and divided his kingdom between his two other daughters. He’d also banished his most trusted advisor, Kent – so trusted in fact that he comes back to Lear in disguise to continue to serve his king. Lear tried staying with Goneril but she wouldn’t let his friends sleep over so he picked up and left, hoping Regan would be okay with he and his buddies hanging around for a bit. We also saw how Gloucester’s bastard son, Edmund, had managed to implicate his older bother Edgar in a fictitious plot to kill their father. (If you missed it, you’ll want to go back and read up on act I.)

Well, that’s nothing compared to what’s just over the horizon by the time we get to the end of act II.

In act II, scene 1 we spy Edmond in his father Gloucester’s castle. He has just been told the news that his father is going to be at the caste that night. He sees a perfect opportunity to further implicate Edgar in this made-up conspiracy. Edmund convinces Edgar to flee and Edmund pretends to be trying to stop him. He even cuts his own arm to make his attempted arrest more convincing. After Edgar flees, Gloucester arrives and Edmond paints a not-so-pretty picture of his Edgar tried to convince him to join in the conspiracy and that they fought when Edmund refused. Gloucester promises to give Edmund all of his lands if he hunts down Edgar. Cornwall and Regan arrive (apparently they’re staying at Gloucester’s castle now) and Gloucester whines to them about his recent troubles with his son. They don’t seem too interested; they’re trying to figure out how to manage dad.

Kent was sent on ahead to Gloucester’s castle in act I, scene 5 and in act II, scene 2 Kent arrives at the gates and runs into Oswald. Kent seems to know that Oswald is nothing more than the two daughters’ glorified lackey and tells him what he thinks of him in his typical well-considered and reasoned way:

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.

(Translation: “Oswald, you are a worthless sack of s__t!”)

Kent draws his sword and threatens to kill Oswald who yells out for help. Edmond, Cornwall, Regan and Gloucester show up and find a still-defiant Kent. They exchange a few words – which Cornwall and Regan clearly do not appreciate – and Kent is placed in the stocks. Gloucester protests but no one’s really been listening to him since the beginning of the play anyhow so why would anyone care now?

Scene 3 is actually just a soliloquy, the first spoken by Edgar. Whether he knows yet that he has been set up or not, he knows he’s a dead man if anybody finds him. So, in true Shakespearean fashion he decides to don a disguise. He decides to play Tom o’Bedlam which is actually less of a real character and more of a character type. The name Tom o’Bedlam refers to a rather famous ‘hospital’ in London, founded in the 13th century: the Bethlem Royal Hospital. essentially, he’s playing an escaped mental patient who thinks he is being pursued by the devil.

Small detail: King Lear is set several centuries prior to the foundation of Bedlam. Oh well. Shakespeare never was one for being slowed down by fact-checking. (Best example: the infamous sea-shores of Bohemia in The Winter’s Tale.)

The final scene of act II is a lengthy one which starts with Lear arriving at Gloucester’s castle and ends with him banished into the wilderness. When he arrives he first finds his messenger Kent (in disguise) locked in the stocks. Of course, he’s pissed that his messenger was treated this way but powerless to do anything about it. Gloucester meets with him outside the caster and tells them that Regan and Cornwall are sick and won’t meet with him. Sound familiar?

Gloucester does manage to return with them in tow. He’s happy to see her but that quickly changes when she sides with Goneril. In fact, she tries to send him back but Goneril herself shows up. He pleads with them and after a little back and forth they both agree: “why do you even need a single follower when our entire household stands ready to serve you, dad?” They mutually agree to take him in only if he comes alone, without his buddies.

I have to admit, in some ways, that doesn’t sound unreasonable. Too bad they then order their servants not to invite Lear to stay. Cornwall gives the order to lock the doors. Of course, throughout the scene there’s plenty more of the Fool’s “I told you so, nuncle” wisdom.

King Lear is all very Game of Thrones. Or so Daniel, Zoey, Stephanie, Jay and just about anybody else over the age of 12 with access to the internet or TV has told me.

I do know that Sean Bean dies in season 1. I would apologize for ruining it but I’m sure any one of these memes has beat me to it.

I also know you can buy a replica of the throne itself for the modest sum of $30 000… plus a negligible shipping fee of $1 800 dollars. Why is it so expensive? Because it’s made with real fiber-glass resin. Or, you could choose to buy any one of several of these 1967 Ford Mustangs for the same price. They’re made of metal.

Bard Brawl consensus is that Game of Thrones has more boobs, shlongs, dongs and dragons than Lear but, a comparable amount of heartless treachery and back-stabbing.

Not so fast! King Lear has already told us that he’s a dragon, right? “Peace Kent / Come not between the dragon and his wrath.” (I’m totally going to write that in my thesis for big bonus points!) That’s at least one.

And when the Bard Brawl finally convinces to get HBO to do a complete works of William Shakespeare à la BBC Television Shakespeare, I’m sure that we can slip in more than enough dongs and boobs to keep everyone happy. Edmund does woo both Goneril and Regan. Knowing Edmund, I’m sure they haven’t just been talking on the phone all night and holding hands when they go to the movies. If nothing else, Cordelia must sleep with the King of France on their wedding night.

I’m sure they’ll return our emails any day now!

Join us next week when we will see crazy Lear conducts the weather, a disappearing fool who seems to be friends with Merlin for some reason, Edgar trying way hard to out-crazy Lear, and poor clueless Gloucester who gets it worse than Sean Bean in any of these death scenes.

And if I can find the time, we’ll talk about the planets, the stars and the weather.

Sonnet 28 read by Erin Marie Byrnes.

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

Stay in touch, brawlers!

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