Saturday, November 1, 2008

Two Half-Fast Sonnets

Two early sonnets that each strike an unusual chord.

The pun in line four of the first is not accident. The first gains much of its satiric effect from the fact that sonnets were much in vogue at court at the time for praising the glories of one or another woman.

Satan, No Woman
Fulke Greville

Satan, no woman, yet a wandering spirit,
When he saw ships sail two ways with one wind,
Of sailor's trade he hell did disinherit:
The Devil himself loves not a half-fast mind.

The satyr when he saw the shepherd blow
To warm his hands, and make his pottage cool,
Manhood forswears, and half a beast did know
Nature with double breath is put to school.

Cupid doth head his shafts in women's faces,
Where smiles and tears dwell ever near together,
Where all the arts of change give passion graces.
While these clouds threaten, who fears not the weather?
Sailors and satyrs, Cupid's knights, and I
Fear women that swear, Nay; and know they lie.

To His Son
Sir Walter Raleigh

Three things there be that prosper up apace
And flourish, whilst they grow asunder far,
But on a day they meet all in one place
And when they meet they one another mar,
And they be these: the wood, the weed, the wag.
The wood is that which makes the gallow-tree,
The weed is that which strings the hangman's bag,
The wag, my pretty knave, betokeneth thee.
Mark well, dear boy, whilst these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild,
But when they meet it makes the timber rot,
It frets the halter and it chokes the child.

Then bless thee, and beware, and let us pray
We part not with thee at this meeting day.

I hope Sir Walter Raleigh's son took his father's advice to heart. Walter Raleigh himself barely avoided meeting with the wood and the weed; he was executed instead with an ax.

Everyone, please read the challenge from a few days ago and send me your sonnets.


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