Friday, April 25, 2008

On Sonnet (the first) 145:

To Ann, a wyff of StratFord

Throu the Avon

By the time I’ve done with this little poem, I’ll have recorded it three times – one, the first (already in the public domain) - expresses, I think, my true feelings for it as a work and it’s potential place in the ‘Canon’. The second I’ll attempt as an authentic pronunciation performance – something I noticed when playing around with the text is a distinctly different feel when the sounds are said in a sort of re-constructed pronunciation … I am not claiming it is right – treat it more as an archaeological experiment than authentic (and I’ve something to say on that issue over on my music review blog, pretty soon). The final is a straight reading – well, sort of, complete with introduction and after-word – that’s the ‘Introduction to the Sonnets for no-lifers’ performance. All will be You-Tubed in the ever fleeting chase after fame and fortune.

Gurr’s argument for this being an early poem (and consequently the first thing we have of Shakespeare’s writing) I find quite convincing … Greer (bbke) doubts, but nods in the direction of possibility and makes a very interesting observation … if this is written for Ann – then other sonnets were most likely also.

I have to admit that I rarely read ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds …’ without thinking it was for her – separated, rarely seeing each other, married – and producing, what 8 (?) children: Love does not ‘bend with the remover to remove’; ‘it IS an ever fixed mark’; it’s ‘not times fool’.

Sonnet 145 is a rough teenagers attempt to capture this ‘true’ mind – Ann. To accept that, we have to dump hundreds of years of misogyny and presumption: We also have to accept a review of the concept of genius – of what this genius saw as a domestic ideal - marriage as the base and foundation of contentment and as a real passage to salvation: Marriage is a source of the deepest peace man can find on earth.

I find this a fascinating idea – especially as I’ll soon be moving on to two ‘comedies’ which deal with these subjects.

Another thing that has been washing around in my head is Brook’s little talk.

Shakespeare’s value lies partly in his ability to turn out poetry – and this poem really isn’t very good poetry – but it does have something about it.

Are we here seeing the moment when Shakespeare first connected his natural gifts to experience?

And a final thought – if Shakespeare is such a good portrayer of character – and he is (remember his is stage writing) – he must have understood people fairly well – why then marry Ann? Why, if this is about her, pursue her this way, why keep and include the text many years later in the published collection of sonnets (shut up – I know all about the ‘was he involved’ arguments over the printing)?

Whatever Ann Hataway was, this touching little attempt, if for and to her, is a clue to a very different Shaksper to the one male piggery and the combined-Bardolatories is fond of exhibiting.

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