Monday, June 20, 2011

Magpie 70

As I looked over this week’s Magpie prompt, a thought flashed through my mind:
Why, she could be the Dark Lady…
As you may know, Will Shakespeare wrote, in addition to the plays, a number of sonnets.
Quite a number – 154 of ‘em, in fact.
The sonnets were brief poems that touched upon just about everything: life, love, death, the passage of time, etc. By studying them, scholars over the years became convinced they could learn a lot about Shakespeare the man – his personal life and loves.

As one example, two dozen of the sonnets are devoted to a young woman who has come to be known as the Dark Lady. No one knows who she was but we know what she was: she was vivacious. tempestuous, witty, and very attractive. She’s called Dark because she had black hair and perhaps dusky complexion.
Our Will was crazy about her.
They evidently had a passionate relationship for a while, then she found another. To put it in modern terms, Shakespeare was dumped.
His girl had not only found another man, but it appears the new guy was a member of the nobility. What this meant, of course, in those days when social position was all-important, was that Will, a commoner, had not the slightest chance, not the slightest, of winning her back.
Why, he wondered, did I have to be what I am?
“I look upon myself and curse my fate.
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possessed.”
He wrote that he once saw the two of them together; his jealousy had boiled over. He began to write about his Dark Lady as though he could convince himself that she was a person it was good to be rid of.
In one of his most famous sonnets, he wrote a strange love poem, quite possibly unlike any other ever written.
The body of the poem is devoted to all the things wrong with his lady love – and there’s a lot.
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.
Coral is far more red than her lips red.
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks.
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.”
But then, in the rhyming couplet that ends the sonnet, he goes on to emphasize just how crazy he still is about her.


Leslie: said...

Sounds like hell hath no fury like a man scorned.

Sioux Roslawski said...

It's amazing how one photograph will send so many of us into different directions. The picture sent you reeling back to Shakespeare. Incredible!

Kay L. Davies said...

The painting and the photo are amazingly alike, Berowne, although I'm hard-pressed to say exactly how.
And yes, you're right, there is definitely a hint of the Dark Lady our Will once adored, then tried to scorn. Thank you so much for bringing those sonnets back to mind.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Jeanne Estridge said...

I knew of the sonnet, but not that it was to the Dark Lady. Excellent post!

Isabel Doyle said...

dark - but the light to someone!

Lyn said...

Ah, Shakespeare...diminished in his own eyes...but never in yours..thank goodness for that!!

Margaret said...

Oh, I can't wait to read his sonnets ... my son has told me over and over again I would like them and what little I read of the excerpts you shared above, I will! Thank you for this post!

Helen said...

I always learn something from your Magpies ... thanks!

Good to know steaks and chops will cure you! We would be lost without our dose of Shakespeare each week.

Ann Grenier said...

Nice to read a different take on the prompt. I don't see our lady as a temptress though... Goodness and light :-) Well done!

Rinkly Rimes said...

A clever link to the Dark Lady.

Berowne said...

Leslie: "Sounds like hell hath no fury like a man scorned."
I never thought of it that way, but there may be something to it. :-)

Berowne said...

What a fine list of comments--from Leslie, Sioux, Kay L D, Jeanne, Isabel D., Lyn, Margaret, Helen, Ann G. and Rinkly Rimes. Thanks so much.

Berowne said...

Margaret: "Oh, I can't wait to read his sonnets."
If I may suggest, start out with number 116:
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments..."

Lucy Westenra said...

Some commentators think the Dark Lady was the same gender as the Bard himself, whatever that was! Thanks once more for the wise words.

Tess Kincaid said...

I wondered how you could accomplish a Shakespearean connection. You certainly did not disappoint. Yes, she very easily could be his Dark Lady.

Berowne said...

Lucy W.: "Some commentators think the Dark Lady was the same gender as the Bard himself."
Sorry, afraid I don't place much credence in that.

Berowne said...

Tess K.: "I wondered how you could accomplish a Shakespearean connection. You certainly did not disappoint."
Wonderful thing about the Bard is that he covered so much territory it's almost always possible to find something of his that will tie in nicely with almost anything -- if you're willing to do a little digging. :-)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this, I didn't know this story and the images do resemble! I love seeing how different people interpret the image.

Everyday Goddess said...

So interesting, the mysteries of Shakespeare's life. Nice connection to the prompt!

Berowne said...

Everyday Goddess: "So interesting, the mysteries of Shakespeare's life."
Always great to hear from the Goddess; thanx.

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