I am in Tenth Grade. And in tenth Grade, we are taught this particular Sonnet of Shake-speare’s. I find it gently pretty, but then, gently. And with all the aura Shake-speare has to his name already, and the added mystery around the Fair Youth and Dark Lady, I find it makes a great blog post- soemthing you and me can talk volumes about. (Remember what this blog is all about?) 😀
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments shall
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
Isn’t it pretty?
We are taught in school, that the poet has so much love and admiration for this person he has dedicated the Sonnet to, that he immortalises him/her ( 😀 ) in his verse, and is so confident that this person will find a place in all future worlds, that he is sure to pass the ravages of Time, War and Death, the superpowers, and go on till Judgement Day. Did you understand as much? Frankly, I didn’t expect Shakespeare to be this simple, but maybe it’s the hype that’s more complex that his real work.
Anyway, I love the concept. And I admire the stern devotion, the irrevocable love, but I have questions. These are questions that are often deemed ‘beyond class discussion’, because, let’s face it, not everyone is interested to talk about this poem they don’t enjoy at all, and they can’t care less what the poem really really means. Cool. But what’s not cool is that the people who should be interested, literary geniuses and teachers, are also put-off and are more than willing to just frisk through it, take the Test and get on. Big problem for me.
Who will talk to me now about Shakespeare being gay or not, since his poems to this young, fair lad are at times pretty lovey-dovey? Who will research and decide, with me, who we think Shakespeare dedicated these Sonnets too, since there are speculations, and a shortlisting? Who will do all the debating, and all the deep thinking?
I was furious to find that I had not many people for this discussion. So I planned my revenge. And here it is.
I have a story, fiction pieces, for each of the two theories I so wanted to discuss and couldn’t. Now here, if you like any, all you need to do is write in in the comments and I’ll get back to you. Of course.
Story One; Theory one- Was S gay?
The night was heavy…
It had come suddenly, like a dark veil of ungainly dark, and had enveloped the entire town into eerie silence. There wasn’t a lamp that had burned against the ravages of that deathly dark, and the people sat in their homes, beside the fire in fear. A small winding road leading down the main path was exceptionally ghastly. The pebbles crunched furiously as the hooded figure walked down it. The road was wet, though it hadn’t rained a drop for the past day. The wind didn’t stir, as if it had rejected that part of town. The hooded figure soon gasped for breath. Faint, and pale, it reached the cottage at the end and clutched the rotting handle tight, in fear of slipping down. White knuckles rapped against the sallow wood door, and promptly, a man flung open the door. The frail figure fell with the sudden gush of the door, causing much alarm to the man who was expecting no visitor.
The figure was carried to the sofa and sat down, and water was brought. As the figure slowly came about, it pulled back it’s hood, to show the fair head of a young lad of twenty, and the boy was terrified.
“I am sorry sir, that you should find me in such timid a state, but I was rather hoping that you would dedicate all your Sonnets to me, henceforth, because you see what you write already pretty much sucks and you copy from here and there, and writing on me, hence, will give you the edge of being the first famous homo. What say you?”
And the man, for it indeed was Shakespeare, threw up his hands, and hugged the Fair Youth and danced and did a jig, and became famous.
There you go. Nothing great about his sexuality after all.
Story two; Theory Two- If S was gay, why the erotic mentions for the Dark Lady? Were they smart enough to invent Bisexual?
So Shakespeare wrote the Sonnets and people couldn’t understand half the context and half the mystery of the youth so they named him a maestro, and Shakespeare became famous. In fact, he got so famous that the Queen called for a meeting. And here, our story continues, which I remind you is fiction, and I have no clue what queen or what era or what fame.
Shakespeare looked outside the coach-window, and wondered if the people would like a Sonnet on grass and bees. He decided to ask the queen, as he was going to see her shortly. The queen. A nervous frown appeared on his intelligible forehead. What did the queen want to see him about? Surely he hadn’t yet won her heart. Was it to punish him? Had he gone too far? Was it the end of his career, was he indeed going to be sacked o his job? He tried not to think. Instead he tried to write and though the thoughts came easily, as he just had to twist famous tales, he soon felt tired. He admitted to himself, he was scared.
But Shakespeare arrived at court all sound, with no mishaps. And when he finally saw the queen who had asked for his presence, his heart melted. Such fair a lady, such beautiful a face… he would embrace death if that was what this holy entity wanted today. The sun fell soft on the queen’s small face, and it only brightened her deepest beauty. Her eyes, wide and dark and her mouth, so red and so firm, Shakespeare knew at once that his contract with the Fair Youth was off.
When he returned to his dismal cottage later, he remembered not what the queen had talked about, but set off dedicating his other Sonnets to her, and to save them both from the careful scrutiny of the king, he turned her fair white skin as lush but dark and wrote on about her.
And that’s how Shakespeare completed his Sonnets.
I do wish he had a smaller name, I would like him much better.
Anyway, this was me being ridiculous, and I expect you not to put much judgement into these words. I most certainly have nothing against the man, as yet, and I am very much willing to listen to critics or lovers alike. As I said, just a little piece of revenge.
This was added on the 21st of August, in response to certain comments and queries made to this post-
When I was writing this piece, I hadn’t thought of this aspect actually, that such a question could come up- whether I was questioning Shakespeare’s credibility on basis of his sexuality. I confess it was lame not to. However i intend to make it very clear it does not affect the work of art one bit if the creator is ‘straight’ gay lesbian, bi or trans; or for that matter, white black grey pink blue green; or Hindu Muslim christian atheist or the devil himself. maybe not the last, if there is a devil, but the point i was really trying to make, and the revenge that i really wanted was that in schools generally we ignore any topic that may be even remotely ‘uncomfortable’ …. that is a shame. So much for holistic development we boast about. So much for curiosity, so underrated, so much for wanting to think.