In each of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets Shakespeare is the lover. Shakespeare is the writer, the poet. (Shakespeare is not the only lover, or the only poet.) Who’s the loved one?
There are at least two: a fair love and a dark lady. Are they the only two?
Is there one fair love? or more than one?
One dark lady? or more than one?
(How many rival poets are there?)
In the early numbers the fair love is male, a boy, “my lovely boy.” But some of the first 126 sonnets could have a woman as their object, could have Liz on Monday and Betty on Wednesday. On “Friday” Shakespeare could be addressing love in the abstract: no particular love object.
Each sonnet may be read separately, each sonnet may be read as part of a single story, or as part of two stories …
A great deal of ink has been printed trying to identify the lover, particularly the fair love (particularly the “lovely boy”). Personally, and in my reading, I don’t care who the actual extensional lover of the particular sonnet may have been. The Sonnets certainly contain autobiographical elements: good, he loved; but worrying about individuals (other than Shakespeare, William Shakespeare, the poet, the great dramatist, the unbelievable word-wizzard) endangers perception of the synergy of the Sonnets as a sequence, as a pair of sequences, as a set of sequences … as contrasting, contradictory, paradoxical … anti-Realistic (as well as Realistic) sequences.
The Sonnets dramatize the principal epistemological conflicts of the second millennium of our Common Era: AD 1000(+-) to AD 2013 (and counting). It’s germaine to worry whether the lover is male or female, hetero-, homo-, or bi-sexual, young or ripe, illegal or legal, but to my reading, whether the lover is Prince Harry or Mildred the Milkmaid is of no more importance than whether Shakespeare had oatmeal or eggs for breakfast the day he wrote the sonnet.
My reading is philosophical, historical, epistemological; not biographical: not trivial!
“The onlie begetter of these insuing sonnets”
Thorpe’s edition credits a Mr. W.H. as the “onlie begetter” for the sonnets. I’ll come back to that. For now, briefly, that could mean that the Fair Love sonnets had a single inspiration, known to Thorpe (and perhaps his readers). Were that true there’d be only one boyfriend. And since the male love figures into a number of the Dark Lady Sonnets, it could be stretched that the one male love is the “begetter” of the majority of the sonnets beyond the first 126. But it could mean that one guy handed Thorpe the text for all 154 sonnets: a “deep throat.” It sounds simple, but isn’t.
2016 05 14 I suspend the menus and menus of menus till I can complete them, even half way, if ever.