Break, Blow, Burn: Day Two

Had some family drama/tragedy this afternoon, so will do The Ghost's Speech as part of tomorrow's batch.

Shakespeare: Sonnet 73

Off to a good start. I'd probably read this before at some point in my life, but it's been way too long to remember when. So I read the sonnet a few times before delving into Paglia's analysis, although it seemed pretty straightforward. Three metaphors for man's life (as a year, a day, and a fire) and then a tag, basically.

Things to note, though. For as much as I recognized when the metaphors switched, as well as knowing the structure of the Shakespearean sonnet, I don't know that I specifically picked up on the "in me" that started each quatrain. Rather, I don't know that I used that phrase to signify the switch to a new metaphor, or whether I used the structure itself to trigger the beats. Something to watch in my close reading, as it is clearly evident upon re-reading.

Certain things I'm not as sure about. Paglia shows that Shakespeare brings the sonnet full-circle in that he starts it with imagery about a tree, and the last metaphor is a fire burning wood. But I guess there's a reason he's Shakespeare.

Shakespeare: Sonnet 29

Well, Oasis certainly prepared me for this sonnet. It is essentially someone feeling everything in their world going wrong, but finding redemption at the end. I know far too well from reading journals on here that sound nearly suicidal how, the next day, a journal entry from the same person is oblivious to their mood of the prior day and all is fine because their crush looked at them or something.

Shakespeare certainly packs a lot of detail in here. Just finding the precise few words to convey so much is rather amazing.

I did get thrown by the phrase "Fortune and men's eyes," as I recall seeing a play of the same name about prison and homosexuality (not that it is rare for Shakespeare phrases to be used elsewhere). Not to mention, my egocentrism linked disgrace with men's eyes to being a gay thing. Of course, there has been speculation about Shakespeare's sexuality. But still, it seems interesting that I can't even put the gay element on the backburner and try to interpret the poem based on its own merit. Paglia rightly says a disgrace in men's eyes is about status in society. Of course, as I do live in a gay ghetto, perhaps we can call this one a draw. Paglia does go on to mention that the face upon which the hinge of the poem moves is not specified. "Is it a man or a woman? The poet blurs it."

Paglia mentions Shakespeare is recreating an episode of depression that is very familiar to him, adding that he was probably in his forties as a parenthetical aside. I assume she is referencing Shakespeare's known biography, and not that I'm two years away from some common depression to that age.

This sonnet, compared to the last, is far less direct as far as structure. Paglia likens it to jazz and says it makes the prior sonnet seem stodgy by comparison. Of course, I do like the redemptive element in this sonnet.

Good stuff, though. I still question when I would just sit down some night and curl up with some Shakespeare sonnets, but perhaps that is something best questioned at the end of this experiment and not two poems in.


rainbowboi's picture


So I don't have the book, so I have no clue what Paglia is talking about. BUT, just to contribute, I guess I'll just talk about what I think...?

I read Sonnet 29 in class this year and one thing that I really liked about it was the fact that I could actually understand what it was saying. It's interesting to me how shallow it seems the speaker is. He is talking about his lack of money, lack of friends, his jealousy of others who have "art" and "scope." I do find your point about the connection to Oasis very interesting, but I think that his reasons for gloom are so different than the ones here that they are hard to compare.

I think this is a great Sonnet to read, partly because it's easy and also because it has a positive tone to it. It really is a sweet love poem that I would love to get. haha.

jeff's picture


The reasons are certainly different, but the abruptness from one extreme to the other was more what I was referring to.


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