صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Thyself doth pay.” Thought has been put in form, but without any power of beauty or truth on the part of the writer, and is of no more value than it was before it was transposed from the crude material. This is as much as to say, that if he had used the same material he would have produced a much better play.

SONNET 80.
0, how I faint when I of You do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use Your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make Me tongue-tied, speaking of Your fame!
But since Your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold Me up afloat,
Whilst he upon Your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wrack’d, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building and of goodly pride.

Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this, My Love was My decay.

In this stanza he informs us that he (Bacon) is studiously pursuing his philosophical inquiries. O, how I [Bacon as dramatist] faint when I of You do write, knowing a better spirit [Bacon as philosopher] doth use Your name” (the contrast here suggested is between Beauty (You) in poetry and Beauty in philosophy, the one, everything externally attractive, and the other full of power internally, and much superior in strength and selfassertion). "And in the praise thereof spends all

his might” (all his power of research, logic, invention, and illustration are employed to demonstrate truth and beauty in philosophy). “To make Me [dramatist] tongue-tied, speaking of Your fame” (those labors will show wherein the plays are deficient in demonstrating and enforcing truth into the practice of mankind). But since “Your worth” (your truth) is an ocean upon which vessels of every size and cost may sail, "My saucy bark” (his poetry and plays) will not be deprived of this right. “Your shallowest help will hold Me [dramatist] up afloat" (his dramas need no deep philosophical investigation of beauty for their ornamentation). “Whilst he [philosopher] upon Your soundless deep doth ride” (his philosophy, on the contrary, will be of the most profound nature). If his dramas should fail, it would be comparatively unimportant, as his philosophy is more exhaustive, built up higher in argument, and will go before the world in "goodly pride” (with the name of Francis Bacon as author, which from his position will give it character). “The worst ” of it is, that if the philosophy succeeds and the dramas fail, it will be because “My Love was My decay" (because he had over-estimated his powers of delineation).

SONNET 81.
Or shall I live Your epitaph to make,
Or You survive when I in earth am rotten;
From hence Your memory cleath cannot take,
Although in Me each part will be forgotten,

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die;
The earth can yield Me but a common grave,
When You entomb'd in men's eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be My gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet create shall o'er-read,
And tongues to be Your being shall rehearse
When all the breathers of this world are dead;

You still shall live — such virtue hath my pen —
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

In this stanza he assures himself that if his dramas outlive him they will live forever. “Or shall I live Your epitaph to make.” This seems to be a closing up of the latter part of the line in the preceding stanza, and means simply as opposed to that (or he will outlive his dramas). “Or You survive when I in earth am rotten" (or though he should die, their beauty will preserve them, so that they will live when he is forgotten). Beauty will be immortal in them, though he be dead “to all the world." His remains will fill a common grave, but the beauty of his dramas will be seen by all people. This poem shall give their history, and shall be read by the men of future ages, and they shall write and talk about your beauty when the present generation has ceased to exist. He had written so truly, and illustrated life so perfectly, that he should be best known and appreciated where the greatest numbers dwell. This is but one of several prophecies in this poem foretelling its unending life, which has been in the course of a continuous fulfilment ever since it was written.

SONNET S2.
I grant Thou wert not married to My Muse,
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.
Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue,
Finding Thy worth a limit past My praise,
And therefore art enforc'd to seek anew
Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days.
And do so, love; yet when they have devis d
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair wert truly sympathiz’d
In true plain words by Thy true-telling friend;

And their gross painting might be better us'd
Where cheeks need blood; in Thee it is abus'd.

In this stanza, in the form of an apology to Thou (Truth) for neglecting to write a dedication in the style and fashion of the times, he furnishes a key which unfolds the true meaning of the dedicatory words prefixed to this poem. Thou (Truth), being as accessible to all as to him, could very properly overlook the want of a dedication. The worth of his thoughts surpassed any effort he might make to praise Thy, and he must look for his eulogy in the works of more recent writers. But he would find after the search, notwithstanding their strained efforts, that Thou's (Truth's) merits had been fully appreciated and set forth “in true plain words by Thy [Thought's] true-telling friend.” The "gross painting” of other writers could be much better applied to subjects that stood in need of praise. It was only belittling Thee (Thought) to squander it on him.

Those “true plain words” have puzzled the heads of more writers during the past three centuries than any equal number of “true plain words” in the English language. It cannot be deemed presumptuous in me to attempt an interpretation which has foiled so many, for if I fail too, I shall die in the best of company. The lines just quoted tell that the poems are dedicated to Thou, or that Thou is the one “sympathiz'd” by the dedication. That furnishes the key to its exposition. Mr. W. H., the person seemingly addressed, fills a subordinate place. This is the language as it was written originally:

TO. THE · ONLIE · BEGETTER · OF .
THESE · INSVING · SONNETS .
Mr. W. H. ALL. HAPPINESSE.
AND. THAT. ETERNITIE .

PROMISED.

BY.
OVR. EVER-LIVING · POET.

WISHETH
THE · WELL-WISHING .
ADVENTVRER . IN.

SETTING
FORTH.

T. T.
I read the dedication thus:-

MR. W. H. WISHETH THAT ETERNITY PROMISED BY OUR EVER-LIVING POET, TO THE ONLY BEGETTER OF THESE ENSUING SONNETS, AND ALL HAPPINESS TO THE WELL-WISHING ADVENTURER IN FORTH T. T. (THE TRUTII).”

SETTING

« السابقةمتابعة »