Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eclipse Endured - Shakespeare Sonnet 107

The following touches very briefly on an analysis of Sonnet 107 by N.B.Cockburn in his The Bacon Shakespeare Question (1998). He analyzes eight of the sonnets in relation to the authorship question.

Sonnet 107

Not mine own fears nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage,
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes.
    And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
    When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.

The 'mortal moon' of the sonnet is the Queen; she was often compared with Diana (alias Cynthia), the moon goddess, as an alternative name for her. "Hath her eclipse endured" means "to have suffered death".  The terms are similar to those of Edgar in King Lear when he says "Men must endure their going hence (dying)". The sonnet focuses on the fact that before the queen's death there had been widespread fears that  the succession would be tempestous. But it proved peaceful. Bacon used the same phrase for the same purpose when he wrote in his History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh (1622), referring to another Queen Elizabeth, King James' mother-in-law, that "This lady . . . had endured a strange eclipse by the King's flight and temporary depriving from the crown".

No one has found the phrase 'endure an eclipse" anywhere else in the whole range of Elizabethan literature, which suggests that it was unique to Bacon and Shake-speare.

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