POETS Day, The Shakespearean Sonnet Edition, #XIX
Happy Friday. It’s finally that time. Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. Take the workweek by the horns and stare it down.
This week’s plan of dubious early escape makes you a workplace hero to boot, although it does cost you a bit up front. Buy your office lunch, or if you work in a large office buy your immediate compatriots lunch to save a bit. They will love you for it. Just make it spicy.
I’d go with Indian or Mexican but Thai and Ethiopian are both acceptable alternatives. If you don’t like hot food, don’t worry. Make sure that various fiery condiments are visible and eat a milder version. Enjoy a wonderful spread and bask in the thanks of the well fed and carry on your workmanlike day until mid-afternoon when you stop short, make sure you have an audience, and hold your hand to your chest and say “Ooh.” Then carry on as if nothing happened. Keep doing this until someone asks if you are okay.
One of the wonderful things about people is that they have genuine concern for others. Use this. There is guaranteed to be at least one person with a story about their own or their relative’s heart issues that started as a mild chest pain. Be dismissive of them and play up your own “pain” and make the incidents come frequently.
You are playing the game of “I’m sure it’s nothing,” versus the hope that someone will say “Better safe that sorry,” and encourage you to get checked out by a doctor. Once you are encouraged to leave work you win. They will ask you about the doctors visit on Monday, but you’ve planned for that. You ate disturbingly hot foods in front of them and heartburn checks every box. You didn’t even ask to leave. You were encouraged to go to the doctor. Nothing to worry about. Just a bit of indigestion. You got out consequence free and ushered in the weekend before the ushers even pulled into the parking lot.
This week’s poem is a sonnet by William Shakespeare. I can’t write about Shakespeare anymore without thinking about an editorial decision. This is so stupid but it sticks with me.
I’ve written about college football quite a bit and I learned to my salvation the value of a good editor. When Mike Leach was hired at Mississippi State I wrote a thousand or so words about the implications for the SEC.
A good editor saved me from making an ass of myself by correcting the ten plus times I meant to write “Mike Leach” but actually wrote “Mike Leech.” That same guy excised around two hundred words of me explaining how the Name, Image, and Likeness rules new to the NCAA could be exploited to work around the eighty-five scholarship limit because I misread the rules (they can be used to do such, but just not in the way I described.)
Writers think of themselves as islands. I do at least. I’m an arrogant beacon. But it turns out I’m not. There are wonderful people doing thankless work to make us not look like braying asses.
Back to Shakespeare. There is one edit that rankles and it was about the bard.
I set it up as a stupid joke for English majors and I suspected that few would get it because it was so obscure and the set up was intentionally obtuse, but I was proud of it. It was a three paragraph lead in to a punch line that required knowing that Shakespeare spelled his own name fourteen different ways that we know of and then I intentionally took one of the lesser known spellings and, in my humble opinion, hilarity should have ensued.
But the editor corrected the name to the standard spelling. Joke died.
This was the same guy that saved my “Leech,” my scholarship idiocy, and there are so many more opportunities for error that I blithely embraced and he saved me from, but I was so frustrated. I had a great joke that no one would get and really wanted it cast into the wind.
This week we’re featuring one of Shakspere’s sonnets.
His poetry, more so than his plays, show his voice, and it is a voice. Claims that Shakpr was Elizabeth or Kit (badass) Marlowe need to contend with the consistent author that haunts the poems.
This, XIX, is the most disturbing to me. I’m willing to be wrong, but in this instance he comes across as shallow. He prizes beauty above all as he dares time to strip away everything but the comely youth of his affection. He claims love, but ties it to appearance. That’s a bad look.
The language is his. The tone is his. The grasp of something greater is lost. It’s beautiful cadence, but it’s petty.
Willm Shakp (1564 -1616)
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O, carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.