Showing posts with label Pearl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pearl. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Five by Five


Willow: 
Don't worry, we're sure to spot Faith first.
She's like this cleavagey slutbomb walking around going,
 "Ooh, check me out, I'm wicked cool, I'm five by five".

Tara: 
"Five by five?" 
Five what by five what? 

Willow: 
See, that's the thing! 

No-One Knows!!


"The Endless Knot - for ever Faith-full in five pointsand five times under each" :

5 X 5
Five by Five
Five Squared

=

25

We get some rules to follow,
That and this, these and those.

No-One Knows

We get these pills to swallow
How they stick in your throat
Tastes like Gold
Oh, what you do to me...

No-One Knows

And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool am I
And I realize you're mine

Indeed a fool am I -Ahhh...!

I journey through The Desert of The Mind with no hope - I follow....





" He remained there that day, and in the morning got ready, asked early for his arms, and they all were brought him. First a carpet of red silk was arrayed on the floor, and the gilded gear in plenty there glittered upon it. The stern man stepped thereon and the steel things handled, dressed in a doublet of damask of Tharsia, and over it a cunning capadoce that was closed at the throat and with fair ermine was furred all within. Then sabatons first they set on his feet, his legs lapped in steel in his lordly greaves, on which the polains they placed, polished and shining and knit upon his knees with knots all of gold; then the comely cuisses that cunningly clasped the thick thews of his thighs they with thongs on him tied; and next the byrnie, woven of bright steel rings upon costly quilting, enclosed him about; and armlets well burnished upon both of his arms, with gay elbow-pieces and gloves of plate, and all the goodly gear to guard him whatever betide; coat-armour richly made, gold spurs on heel in pride; girt with a trusty blade, silk belt about his side. 

When he was hasped in his armour his harness was splendid: the least latchet or loop was all lit with gold. Thus harnessed as he was he heard now his Mass, that was offered and honoured at the high altar; and then he came to the king and his court-companions, and with love he took leave of lords and of ladies; and they kissed him and escorted him, and to Christ him commended. And now Gringolet stood groomed, and girt with a saddle gleaming right gaily with many gold fringes, and all newly for the nonce nailed at all points; adorned with bars was the bridle, with bright gold banded; the apparelling proud of poitrel and of skirts, and the crupper and caparison accorded with the saddlebows: all was arrayed in red with rich gold studded, so that it glittered and glinted as a gleam of the sun. Then he in hand took the helm and in haste kissed it: strongly was it stapled and stuffed within; it sat high upon his head and was hasped at the back, and a light kerchief was laid o’er the beaver, all braided and bound with the brightest gems upon broad silken broidery, with birds on the seams like popinjays depainted, here preening and there, turtles and true-loves, entwined as thickly as if many sempstresses had the sewing full seven winters in hand. A circlet of greater price his crown about did band; The diamonds point-device there blazing bright did stand. 

Then they brought him his blazon that was of brilliant gules with the pentangle depicted in pure hue of gold. By the baldric he caught it and about his neck cast it: right well and worthily it went with the knight. And why the pentangle is proper to that prince so noble I intend now to tell you, though it may tarry my story. It is a sign that Solomon once set on a time to betoken Troth, as it is entitled to do; for it is a figure that in it five points holdeth, and each line overlaps and is linked with another, and every way it is endless; and the English, I hear, everywhere name it the Endless Knot. So it suits well this knight and his unsullied arms; for ever faithful in five pointsand five times under each, Gawain as good was acknowledged and as gold refinéd, devoid of every vice and with virtues adorned. So there the pentangle painted new he on shield and coat did wear, as one of word most true and knight of bearing fair. 

First faultless was he found in his five senses, and next in his five fingers he failed at no time, and firmly on the Five Wounds all his faith was set that Christ received on the cross, as the Creed tells us; and wherever the brave man into battle was come, on this beyond all things was his earnest thought: that ever from the Five Joys all his valour he gained that to Heaven’s courteous Queen once came from her Child. For which cause the knight had in comely wise on the inner side of his shield her image depainted, that when he cast his eyes thither his courage never failed. The fifth five that was used, as I find, by this knight was free-giving and friendliness first before all, and chastity and chivalry ever changeless and straight, and piety surpassing all points: these perfect five were hasped upon him harder than on any man else. Now these five series, in sooth, were fastened on this knight, and each was knit with another and had no ending, but were fixed at five points that failed not at all, coincided in no line nor sundered either, not ending in any angle anywhere, as I discover, wherever the process was put in play or passed to an end. Therefore on his shining shield was shaped now this knot, royally with red gules upon red gold set: this is the pure pentangle as people of learning have taught. Now Gawain in brave array his lance at last hath caught. He gave them all good day, for evermore as he thought. 

He spurned his steed with the spurs and sprang on his way so fiercely that the flint-sparks flashed out behind him. All who beheld him so honourable in their hearts were sighing, and assenting in sooth one said to another, grieving for that good man: ‘Before God, ’tis a shame that thou, lord, must be lost, who art in life so noble! To meet his match among men, Marry, ’tis not easy! To behave with more heed would have behoved one of sense, and that dear lord duly a duke to have made, illustrious leader of liegemen in this land as befits him; and that would better have been than to be butchered to death, beheaded by an elvish man for an arrogant vaunt. Who can recall any king that such a course ever took as knights quibbling at court at their Christmas games!’Many warm tears outwelling there watered their eyes, when that lord so beloved left the castle that day. No longer he abode, but swiftly went his way; bewildering ways he rode, as the book I heard doth say."

   

" The most certain thing known about the author is that he also wrote PatiencePurity and Pearl, then we have in Sir Gawain the work of a man capable of weaving elements taken from diverse sources into a texture of his own; and a man who would have in that labour a serious purpose. I would myself say that it is precisely that purpose that has with its hardness proved the shaping tool which has given form to the material, given it the quality of a good tale on the surface, because it is more than that, if we look closer. 

The story is good enough in itself. It is a romance, a fairy-tale for adults, full of life and colour; and it has virtues that would be lost in a summary, though they can be perceived when it is read at length: good scenery, urbane or humorous dialogue, and a skilfully ordered narrative. 

Of this the most notable example is the long Third Part with its interlacing of the hunting-scenes and the temptations. By this device all three main characters are kept vividly in view during the three crucial days, while the scenes at home and in the field are linked by the Exchange of Winnings, and we watch the gains of the chase diminish as the gains of Sir Gawain increase and the peril of his testing mounts to a crisis. 

But all this care in formal construction serves also to make the tale a better vehicle of the ‘moral’ which the author has imposed on his antique material. He has re-drawn according to his own faith his ideal of knighthood, making it Christian knighthood, showing that the grace and beauty of its courtesy (which he admires) derive from the Divine generosity and graceHeavenly Courtesy, of which Mary is the supreme creation: the Queen of Courtesy, as he calls her in Pearl

This he exhibits symbolically in mathematical perfection in the Pentangle, which he sets on Gawain’s shield instead of the heraldic lion or eagle found in other romances. But while in Pearl he enlarged his vision of his dead daughter among the blessed to an allegory of the Divine generosity, in Sir Gawain he has given life to his ideal by showing it incarnate in a living person, modified by his individual character, so that we can see a man trying to work the ideal out, see its weaknesses (or man’s weaknesses). 

But he has done more. His major point is the rejection of unchastity and adulterous love, and this was an essential part of the original tradition of amour courtois or ‘courtly love’; but this he has complicated again, after the way of morals in real life, by involving it in several minor problems of conduct, of courtly behaviour to women and fidelity to men, of what we might call sportsmanship or playing the game

On these problems he has been less explicit, and has left his hearers more or less to form their own views of the scale of their values, and their relation to the governing value of sin and virtue. So this poem is made to be, as it were, all about Gawain. The rest is a web of circumstance in which he is involved for the revelation of his character and code. 

The ‘Faerie’ may with its strangeness and peril enlarge the adventure, making the test more tense and more potent, but Gawain is presented as a credible, living, person; and all that he thinks, or says, or does, is to be seriously considered, as of the real world. 

His character is drawn so as to make him peculiarly fitted to suffer acutely in the adventure to which he is destined. We see his almost exaggerated courtesy of speech, his modesty of bearing, which yet goes with a subtle form of pridea deep sense of his own honour, not to mention, we might say, a pleasure in his own repute as ‘this fine father of breeding (stanza 38). 

We note also the warmth of his character, generous, even impetuous, which by a slight excess leads him ever to promise more than necessary, beyond the consequences that he can foresee. 

We are shown his delight in the company of women, his sensitiveness to their beauty, his pleasure in the ‘polished play of converse’ with them, and at the same time his fervent piety, his devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 

We see him at the crisis of the action forced to distinguish in scale of value the elements of his code, preserving his chastity, and his loyalty on the highest plane to his host; finally rejecting in fact (if not in empty words) absolute worldly ‘courtesy’, that is complete obedience to the will of the sovereign lady, rejecting it in favour of virtue

Yet later we see him, in the last scene with the Green Knight, so overwhelmed by shame at being discovered in a breach of his laughing word, given in a Christmas game, that the honour he has gained in the great test is of small comfort to him. 

With characteristic excess he vows to wear a badge of disgrace for the rest of his life.

In a fit of remorse, so violent that it would be appropriate only to grievous sin, he accuses himself of GreedCowardice, and Treachery


Of the first two he is guiltless, except by a casuistry of shame. 

But how true to life, to a picture of a perhaps not very reflective man of honour, is this shame at being found out (especially at being found out) in something considered rather shabby, whatever in solemn conscience we may think of its real importance. How true also is this equality in emotion aroused by all parts of a personal code of conduct, however various in importance or ultimate sanctions each element may be. 

Of the last charge: disloyalty, troth-breach, treachery, all the hard things that he calls it, Gawain was guilty only in so far as he had broken the rules of an absurd game imposed on him by his host (after he had rashly promised to do anything his host asked); and even that was at the request of a lady, made (we may note) after he had accepted her gift, and so was in a cleft stick. 

Certainly this is an imperfection upon some plane; but on how high a plane, and of what importance? 

The laughter of the Court of Camelot – and to what higher court in matters of honour could one go? – is probably sufficient answer. 

But in terms of literature, undoubtedly this break in the mathematical perfection of an ideal creature, inhuman in flawlessness, is a great improvement. 

The credibility of Gawain is enormously enhanced by it. He becomes a real man, and we can thus really admire his actual virtue. 

We can indeed give serious thought to the movements of the English mind in the fourteenth century, which he represents, from which much of our sentiment and ideals of conduct have been derived. We see the attempt to preserve the graces of ‘chivalry’ and the courtesies, while wedding them, or by wedding them, to Christian morals, to marital fidelity, and indeed married love

The noblest knight of the highest order of Chivalry refuses adultery, places hatred of sin in the last resort above all other motives, and escapes from a temptation that attacks him in the guise of courtesy through Grace obtained by prayer. That is what the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was mainly thinking about, and with that thought he shaped the poem as we have it. 

It was a matter of contemporary concern, for the English. Sir Gawain presents in its own way, more explicitly moral and religious, one facet of this movement of thought out of which also grew Chaucer’s greatest poem, Troilus and Criseyde. Those who read Sir Gawain are likely to read the last stanzas of Chaucer’s work with a renewed interest.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

“He’s fat, and scant of breath”

Fat people are not inhuman, they are fat.

"I suggest, finally, that the inclusion of the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath” in similar productions has the potential to encourage the audience to feel, and finally to interrogate, the dehumanizing implications of our fatphobic constructs."

No it doesn't.

Hamlet is fat, unhappy and over-privileged; young, white and 21.

And there is no such word as "fatophobic"

The play is about how Hamlet's Pride and Sense of Entitlement causes him to utterly destroy himself, everyone he loves, his entire birthright bequeathed to him by his late father, the Kingdom of Denmark - after having been given just the tiniest nudge to get it started by The Devil pretending to be the ghost of his dead father, who spins him a tissue of lies which are precisely what he wants to hear. Because he is proud, and immodest.

It's autobiographical.

Of *course* Hamlet is fat - he expects to win this final, epic duel to the death with this man who is not his enemy (Laertes is his foil, not his enemy or his Nemesis), not through skill or athletic ability, but by God's Grace and favour and the Divine Right of Kings.





“He’s fat, and scant of breath”: The Rise of a Modern Fatphobia in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Commentary on Hamlet

Clemson University Homepage
Abstract: This essay examines the extensive critical commentary on a single line of Hamlet — “He’s fat, and scant of breath” (5.2.287) — in order to trace the emergence of a modern understanding of the fat body. Unremarkable in the eighteenth century, the line becomes the center of debate in the nineteenth century at precisely the period in which fat bodies come to be seen as having an essential nature, assumed to be cowardly, lazy, and undisciplined. Attributed to Goethe and developed by a German Shakespeare tradition, Hamlet’s supposed weakness of character is explained by his fat character. In response, English-speaking Shakespeare critics develop scholarly methods to distance Hamlet from “fat” altogether, initially by offering bibliographical arguments for emending the word and finally by offering etymological arguments that redefine it to mean anything other than corpulent. The final section of this essay considers the extent to which this same understanding of the fat body was employed in responses to Simon Russell Beale’s performance of Hamlet. I suggest, finally, that the inclusion of the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath” in similar productions has the potential to encourage the audience to feel, and finally to interrogate, the dehumanizing implications of our fatphobic constructs.
§
This essay offers a reading of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century responses to a single line of Hamlet. The line, present in the First Folio, the Second Quarto, and all modern critical editions, has Queen Gertrude, when watching her son, Hamlet, fence with Laertes, cry out with motherly concern, “He’s fat, and scant of breath” (5.2.287).1Most today find the line incongruous: why, after all, would Gertrude call her son fat? Such a response, I argue, has a history. The line, unremarkable in the eighteenth century, inspired intense scholarly scrutiny in the Victorian period, when understandings of “fat” take on a modern form. Fat is now seen as an outward sign of an inner, essential nature, where the fat person is assumed to be cowardly, lazy, and undisciplined. Only with the emergence of this modern understanding of fat does it become “ludicrous” and “impossible” for most to accept that the heroic Hamlet — “The glass of fashion and the mould of form” (3.1.153) — could be fat. Such an understanding of fat gains central importance in the period in which the play is increasingly seen through the character of Hamlet and his interiority (de Grazia). The modern understanding of fat can explain what comes to be seen as the central problem of the play: namely, what in Hamlet’s character accounts for his failure to act (Dixon, “Line”).2 In an 1887 lecture, James Russell Lowell gives voice to this new modern sentiment when he confidently asserts that “A fat Hamlet is as inconceivable as a lean Falstaff” (189).3
This essay participates in what I term in The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late Modernity a “fat history,” a scholarly project to excavate past responses to the fat body in order to better understand and critique our own contemporary understandings of, and widespread stigmatization of, the fat body (Levy-Navarro 1-34). Much like presentism in Shakespeare studies, a fat history does not reject historicism per se, but only a historicism that does not explicitly situate itself in the present historical moment. A fat history acknowledges that, as Hugh Grady argues, “there is no historicism without a latent presentism” (115). In The Culture of Obesity, I focus on early modern moralistic constructions of fat, especially those found in “puritan” narratives. I turn here to Victorian responses to Hamlet in order to examine an understanding of fat even more immediately relevant today. What Frederic Jameson has described as the overdeveloped West is significantly indebted to the essentialist construction of fat that emerges in the Victorian period, albeit interpreted through a moralistic framework that has a much longer legacy (xviii). Joyce L. Huff made this point well over a decade ago (“Horror,” 42).4 I would now add that this modern understanding of fat — whereby the fat person is assumed to have a nature that is weak-willed, unhealthy, and out of control — is even more hegemonic in this post-9/11 world where national and international agencies are involved in what is frequently characterized as a “war against obesity.” In these terms of warfare, the disembodied “obesity” is often described as a detrimental force, whether a “terror within” or a “disease” that threatens to destroy society (Levy-Navarro, Culture 1-19). Those who have the misfortune to be labeled “obese” or “overweight” are increasingly subject to surveillance, whether from their employers, physicians, insurance companies, or, indeed, themselves.5 With this growing cultural panic concerning “obesity,” the constructions surrounding “fat” need more scholarly attention. Precisely because these constructions have become so pervasive, however, it is particularly difficult to see them as anything other than transhistorical and natural conditions.6
Shakespeare criticism has for the most part remained silent on the issue of body size, even as it admirably explores many other aspects of embodiment, including those of gender, sexuality, and race. Because it solicited so much scholarly analysis from the middle of the nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, criticism of the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath” offers us a convenient way to document this silence. The year 1951 marks a useful turning point, after which “The rest is silence.” Three articles on the line appeared that year in scholarly journals, but subsequently, the topic went underground, discussed in brief but important editorial footnotes and in more informal academic venues like the academic listserv (Dickson; Stoll; Maxwell).7 This silence does not result from resolution to the ostensible problems the line presents. As editors observe, no evidence has been found to rid us of “fat Hamlet”; nonetheless, we remain convinced that Hamlet must not be fat. I therefore contend that our current silence on the matter results from our own fatphobia, which makes a fat Hamlet increasingly “inconceivable” despite what Gertude plainly says. One sign of the extent to which it is inconceivable is the widespread tendency to omit the line in productions, thereby preserving intact our cultural assumption that Hamlet must be thin.
The lone voices breaking this silence belong, in fact, to the editors, whose sustained attention to the critical debate around the line makes them more likely to recognize some of the assumptions evident in previous criticism. The editors of the Arden 3 Hamlet, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, note, “This word ['fat'] has been much discussed by commentators who do not want it to mean ‘overweight’” (5.2.269n). Gone from this note are all attempts to argue that the word “fat” is a printer’s error, as well as the obsessive insistence that the character of Hamlet cannot possibly be fat (and thus must presumably be thin). Even those editors who continue in the critical tradition of glossing “fat” as anything other than corpulent acknowledge that there is no real evidence for such a reading. T.J.B. Spencer begins his note by observing that the word “fat” is “incongruous,” only to admit, “There is slight evidence that it could mean ‘sweaty,’ but the usual meaning was the same as today” (5.2.281n). Harold Jenkins, editor of Arden 2, concludes that “no certain and authenticated parallel has been given for fat as an epithet for the condition, rather than the cause of the sweating” (5.2.290LN). The editor of the New Cambridge Shakespeare, Philip Edwards, similarly agrees that the word, “fat” must mean “sweaty” or “out of training,” even as he admits that both interpretations are “not properly attested” (5.2.264n). Outside of these important exceptions, Shakespeare scholars have tended not to take a fat Hamlet seriously, and thus not to reflect on or historicize their own attitudes about body size.

I. Fat Hamlet and the Essential Fat Identity

Before the nineteenth century, the line excited little to no commentary. Eighteenth-century editors showed virtually no interest in the line. Insofar as they discussed it at all, they did so to take up issues concerning the theatrical history of the play, and gradually those concerning theatrical decorum. The line is first singled out for notice by John Roberts in his 1729Answer to Mr. Pope’s Preface to Shakespear. (The question Roberts raises subsequently enters into the Second Variorum commentary.) Roberts cites the line to support his contention that John Lowin, a fat man, was the “original Hamlet”: “That he was Sizeable to play Henry the Eighth, and yet perform’d the Part of Hamlet is reconciled by observing the Queen says, in the fighting Scene between Him and Laertes, ‘He is FAT and scant of Breath’” (36). Roberts, proudly self-identified on the title page as a “strolling Player,” is interested in the performance history of Shakespeare, having written An Answer to counter Pope’s purely poetic analysis. As an actor with a considerable knowledge of theater history, Roberts understands that actors’ bodies do not always ideally match the audience’s expectations. His use of the word “sizable” is likely to strike the contemporary reader as a euphemism, but notably, the word need not so much signify “large” as suitably or appropriately proportioned (OED “sizeable,” adj.). Although there is apparently some discussion about whether Lowin is less than “sizable” (appropriately sized) for the role of Hamlet, there seems to be no sense in this discussion that fatness indicates of a flawed or cowardly nature. 
Variorum editors use the line to answer the same question about the identity of the original Hamlet, first arguing that it was John Lowin (initially suggested by John Roberts), then Joseph Taylor (added to the list of possibilities by George Steevens and supported by Edmund Malone, who explicitly rejects Lowin), and then finally, in Malone and Boswell’s Third Varorium, Richard Burbage.8 Later commentators accept the final verdict that Burbage did, in fact, originate the role (the evidence being further developed by John Payne Collier in 1843), but they begin to focus attention increasingly on the general question of whether, as Steevens notes in his 1778 edition, the “words are employed, with reference to the obesity of the actor” (Johnson-Steevens 408 n.7).9 Editors place increasing attention on theatrical decorum, or the issue of which shapes and sizes of bodies are appropriate to what roles. Even more than Roberts, Steevens focuses on the unsuitability of Lowin for the role, and thus the unsuitability of the fat body for a role such as Hamlet. As he conjectures, Shakespeare added the line to “apologize” for the fatness of the actor: 
If he [John Lowin] was adapted, by the corpulence of his figure, to appear with propriety in the two former of these characters [Falstaff and Henry VIII], Shakespeare might have put this observation into the mouth of her majesty, to apologize for the want of such elegance of person as an audience might expect to meet with in the representation of the youthful Prince of Denmark, whom Ophelia speaks of as “the glass of fashion and the mould of form.” (408n.7)
Steevens imagines here an audience who expects certain bodies to play certain roles. A fat actor, then, would ideally play a clown or an older king, but not ideally a young royal, especially one who is seen as a suitor. Such an understanding of body types and sizes is certainly fatphobic: it assumes the fat body has a “want of such elegance.” But this fatphobia is largely based on a certain understanding of theatrical decorum. The idea of a fat Hamlet is not something that is ludicrous, inconceivable, or monstrous, but simply theatrically inconvenient.
A more dangerous form of fatphobia emerges in the nineteenth century, when the fat body comes to be seen as having a certain innate character. Such a modern understanding of fat becomes useful during the period in which, as de Grazia has argued, the play is read through the lens of Hamlet’s (flawed) character. Thus, his supposed failure to act can be linked to his own nature by drawing on the new understanding of fat. Pat Rogers, in his masterful “Fat is a Fictional Issue,” demonstrates how by the second half of the nineteenth century in England, “corporeal codes became easier and easier to read as more of personal identity became lodged in physical shape” (31). Sharrona Pearl argues similarly that artists of all kinds could rely on a widespread popular “physiognomical literacy,” where body shape and size signify certain essential character types.10So pervasive do these ideas become that artists can use a few words or a few lines to summon up these character types for the audience. 
The argument that Hamlet was fat and that his fatness explains his weakness of character was initially ascribed to Goethe through a particular (mis)reading of his influential bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship. The importance of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship on the century’s Shakespeare criticism cannot be overestimated. Horace Howard Furness, the American editor of the New Variorum edition of Hamlet(1877), acknowledged the central significance of the commentary: “Goethe’s interpretation, [is] everywhere as widely known as the play itself” (xiii). For English readers, Goethe’s interpretation was known through translation by the great Victorian critic Thomas Carlyle. First published in 1824 and reissued throughout the nineteenth century, Carlyle’s translation of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeshiphad, as Russell Jackson notes, “the status Proust’s masterpiece enjoys with us – it was the book everyone hoped you thought they had read – and knowing citation of the Hamlet comments was obligatory” (113).11
Goethe’s text, then, was mediated by Carlyle’s translation, and by a German critical tradition that ascribed to Goethe the genius of having invented “constitutional criticism.”12 An examination of the German criticism lies outside the confines of this study, but ubiquitous in English criticism are references to German critics and to Goethe as the German critic of the first order.13 In Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Hamlet (translated in 1882), for instance, Karl Elze draws on Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister to argue that “It is a masterly stroke of the poet to bring Hamlet’s indecision and inertness, his melancholy and heartache, into connexion [sic] with his physique, so as to account physiologically for his turn of mind and character” (246n). This German “insight” into Hamlet also introduces into English criticism a connection between fat and what is called variously “nature,” naturelle, “constitution,” or “non-executive or lymphatic temperament.”14 In the 1862 American Civil War, pro-Union, and abolitionist periodical The Continental Monthly, Edward C. agrees with what he takes to be Goethe’s remarks: “if the theory is true, the enigma of Hamlet’s character can be solved through calculations of his pinguitude” (571). The British actor and editor Thomas Wade, in a published lecture on Hamlet, interrupts his train of thought to “reflect upon this singular fact in Hamlet’s physical history” (31).15 That Hamlet had become fat by the time he fenced Laertes is taken as a sign of his degeneration of character – in effect the reverse process of our cultural view of slimming today or Bantingism in the period. In a more recognizably scientific vein, E. Vale Blake, in Popular Science Monthly, argues that Hamlet offers a “celebrated case” of “fatty degeneration” (61). As he writes, “a redundance of adipose matter essentially weakens and impedes the power of the will,” thereby explaining Hamlet’s infamous failure to act decisively to avenge his father (61).
Despite the influence of these German Hamlets, most critics writing in English reject a reading in which the supposed failure of Hamlet’s character is explained through a specific reading of the fat body. Many critics, however, both implicitly and explicitly offer counter-arguments to the reading that is ascribed to the massive figure of Goethe. What critics did not see at the time is that Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeshipactually offers three very different, competing interpretations of Gertrude’s line – by Wilhelm; Serlo, the actor-manager; and Aurelia, Serlo’s sister – and conceivably any of them could be given the weight of Goethe’s authority. Their interpretations, moreover, are in dialogue with one another, with no single interpretation winning the day. The fact that Wilhelm’s interpretation was taken up by critics as Goethe’s own suggests the degree to which bodies were predisposed to be read as suggestive of character types.
Much like the eighteenth-century Roberts, Serlo considers roles in terms of the exigencies of theater, and thus he understands that roles are played by all types of bodies, even if some of those bodies might be less than ideal for the role. When Wilhelm insists that he is not suitable for the role of Hamlet because “in my whole form and physiognomy, there is not one feature such as Shakespeare meant for Hamlet,” Serlo offers the perfect actor-manager response that surely “the actor fits himself to his part as he can, and the part to him as it must” (Goethe 2:290). Serlo finds Wilhelm’s physiognomic character criticism impertinent insofar as it insists on a singular and stable sense of character that exists independently of any specific theatrical production. Whereas Wilhelm believes in the existence of a character, Hamlet, as Shakespeare intended him, Serlo looks rather to a Hamlet that is a product of particular productions, where actors, actor-managers, and audiences work to co-create character. According to this view, the theatrical company is not constrained to reproduce the so-called authentic Hamlet as Shakespeare intended him.
Even as Serlo rejects Wilhelm’s reading as impertinent, Aurelia rejects it as ugly. Shakespeare’s intention or Hamlet’s character type do not matter to Aurelia; all that matters is what pleasure the play can provide the audience. Regardless as to how compelling a physiognomic interpretation may seem, the players are not so straight-jacketed. Aurelia thus counters Wilhelm’s reading of Hamlet’s character with her own aesthetic criticism:
“In the first place," answered Wilhelm, “he is fair-haired.”
“That I call far-fetched,” observed Aurelia. “How do you infer that?”
“As a Dane, as a Northman, he is fair-haired and blue-eyed by descent.”
“And you think Shakespeare had this in view?”
“I do not find it specially expressed; but, by comparison of passages, I think it incontestable. The fencing tires him; the sweat is running from his brow; and the Queen remarks, He’s fat and scant of breath. Can you conceive him to be otherwise than plump and fair-haired? Brown complexioned people, in their youth, are seldom plump. And does not his wavering melancholy, his soft lamenting, his irresolute activity, accord with such a figure? From a dark-haired young man, you would look for more decision and impetuosity.”
“You are spoiling my imagination,” cried Aurelia: “away with your fat Hamlets! Do not set your well-fed Prince before us! Give us rather a succedaneum that will move us, will delight us. The intention of the author is of less importance to us than our own enjoyment, and we need a charm that is adapted for us.” (2:290)
Aurelia initially seems to concede that Wilhelm’s argument is rationally sound, yet she does so in a manner that critiques his stabilizing approach. The question that Wilhelm insists should be paramount — namely, what physiognomic type did Shakespeare intend? — is irrelevant because what matters is “our” (fatphobic) desires. Aurelia does not argue, as later English-speaking commentators do, that Shakespeare could not have intended a fat Hamlet. Instead, she shifts the ground of the argument entirely away from Shakespeare’s intention to what the contemporary audience — and indeed, she herself — desires. Contemporaries should create Hamlets (and Hamlets) that have a “charm that is adapted for us.” At the same time, Aurelia exposes Wilhelm’s own supposedly rationally sound reading as expressive of his own particular desires and needs. Her exclamation “Away with your fat Hamlets!” underscores the fact that it is, after all, “your” fat Hamlet that is the problem. Both Wilhelm and Aurelia display fatphobic assumptions, but ones that operate by a different understanding of the fat body. Aurelia sees the fat body as ugly and undesirable, but she does not insist, as Wilhelm does, that fat is associated with a certain character type. Her critique of Wilhelm’s remarks is leveled more at his stabilizing, essentialist interpretation, which would insist that the Hamlet we construct (and love) must be limited to the Hamlet Shakespeare intended. 
Wilhelm’s remarks wielded quite a bit of authority in English and German criticism simply because they were ascribed to Goethe. Yet they also generated anxiety insofar as they were seen as commenting on the shared racial identity of the “Northman.” In the German critical tradition, Wilhelm’s remarks were used to explain the continual delay in German unification. Most famously, German poet Ferdinand Freiligrath, in a poem translated into English, wrote that “Germany is Hamlet.” Focusing on Germany’s inability to act, Freiligrath expands upon Wilhelm’s diagnosis:
It comes from dawdling overmuch — 
Lounging and reading, — tired to death, — 
Sloth holds him in its iron clutch. 
He's grown too ‘fat and scant of breath.’ 
He spun his learned yarn away, 
His best of action was but thinking,
Too long in Wittenberg his stay. 
Employed with lectures — or with drinking. (105) 
Subsequently, the German critical tradition would see some essential weakness in the character of the Germanic race, a weakness that would apply to the British race as well.
G.G. Gervinus, whose Hamlet criticism appeared in English translation in 1877, offered a simple binary whereby the Northman was characterized by his fat body, the “dark-haired” southerner by his thin one. The fat body brought with it an essential character that was indecisive, irresolute, and thus inactive, whereas the thin body was characterized by “impetuosity” (565). Citing the infamous line, Gervinus sums up this critical tradition with the following remark: Hamlet “lacked, therefore, says Goethe, the external strength of the hero, or we might say, more simply, the strength of a practical and active nature” (561). Hamlet’s fat body is a sign of “faintheartedness,” “anxious-uneasiness and weakness” (561). Gervinus’s criticism of Hamlet’s character is revealed, ultimately, to be a criticism of the “German race,” for as Gervinus later insists, “Hamlet is a type of our German race at the present day” (575).16Gervinus uses Hamlet for his own political purposes; the two Nordic races, Germany and Britain, are overburdened by their modern existence. Their active natures are made passive, rendered weak by their modernity, and their passive modernity in turn, as Hillel Schwartz elsewhere demonstrates, is associated with obesity ( “Three Body”). Gervinus looks to two opposing body types: the lean body of Prince Hal associated with the active (imperialist) nature, and the fat body of Prince Hamlet associated with the passive one. Referring to Hamlet’s promise to avenge his father, Gervinus explains that “Hamlet, a master in intelligence, can only utter this principle; he cannot carry it out, as that [King] Henry [from Shakespeare’s Henry V] did who is a master in life and action” (573). Hamlet embodies the character of the modern man, who cannot rise to the challenges of the time – an “age in which everything hinges upon physical power and the desire for action” (573). Thus, “our modern sensibility is anticipated, as it were, by two centuries in Hamlet” (574). His “superabundant emotion of his soul” has in the “last century spread like an epidemic in England and Germany” (573).
Unlike Gervinus, most English critics simply assert that Hamlet is not fat, and thus does not have a fat constitution. Why they might be so vociferous in their insistence, however, can be seen if we consider the response to this line of criticism found in the essays of the popular writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton. A man involved in the British empire, both in his financial dealings with the Crown Colony of British Columbia and as Secretary of State for the Colonies under the government of Lord Derby (1858-1859), Bulwer-Lytton engages at some length with Wilhelm’s remarks in his essay “On the Moral Effect of Writers.” Bulwer-Lytton accepts that “intricate moral character” is revealed by a “physical clew” such as body shape and size, and he accepts as well that there is a general racial type like Wilhelm’s Northman (120). He only takes issue with the characterization of the Northman as having an innate fat character. In contrast, he insists, the Northmen, especially in their British incarnation, are characterized by a thin body and the concomitant thin character type. As he explains, 
The dogmas conveyed in this criticism are neither historically nor physiologically correct. If, as Wilhelm Meister had just before asserted, “Hamlet must be fair-haired and blued-eyed — as a Dane, as a Northman,” certainly, of all the populations of the earth, the Dane, the Northman, has ever been the least characterized by “wavering melancholy” or “soft lamenting.” The old Scandinavian Vikings did not yield to dark-haired warriors “in decision and impetuosity.” To this day, those districts in England, wherein the old Danish race left their descendants — where the blue eyed and the light sandy hair are most frequently seen . . . the superior activity, the practical long-headedness, the ready adaptation of shrewd wit to immediate circumstance — in short, all the attributes most opposed to the character of Hamlet, are proverbially evident. Nor is it true that the fair-haired children of the North are more inclined in youth to be plump than the dark-haired inhabitants of the same climate. The Yorkshireman and Lowlander are generally high cheek-boned and lean. But is it clear that the Queen’s remark is intended to signify that Hamlet is literally fat? (121)
Bulwer-Lytton does not dispute that a “pinguous temperament” brings with it “wavering melancholy” and “soft lamenting,” or that Hamlet is a type of a the Danish race. He argues only that Wilhelm’s conclusion is "neither historically nor physiologically correct." That is, the Northman, especially its English descendents, is not characterized by the fat body and thus not by the fat character type. Historically, Bulwer-Lytton insists, the Northman possessed an “active” nature, that of a warrior; and physiologically, he is characterized by a “lean” body. One sees in his characterization, then, that Bulwer-Lytton accepts a corporeal code that reads innate personality traits in fat and thin bodies: the fat body is associated with an innate cowardliness, the lean body with an active conquering nature. Those committed to the British empire thus had good reasons to reject the German critical tradition, which used Hamlet to argue that the shared Germanic race was characterized by a fat nature.

II. Cutting the Fat, or Scholarly Emendation

Bulwer-Lytton adopts the solution preferred among English-speaking Shakespeareans. Rather than directly engaging with the argument attributed to Goethe, English Shakespeareans seek out a scholarly solution to the ostensible problem posed by Gertrude’s line. Initially, that solution involves a call for a textual emendation, where it is proposed that the word must be a printer’s error. Shakespeare must have written “hot,” “faint,” or “fey.”17 The basis for this argument is simply that it is inconceivable that Shakespeare would have meant to apply the word "fat" to Hamlet. Those who recommend an emendation, then, often prove to be offended by the word. John Bulloch illustrates this point when he recommends the emendation of “fey” because “The idea that Hamlet, the young man, the avenger of his father’s murder could have grown fat, is contrary to all likelihood” (240). Another commentator recommends the emendation of “hot” because “we are quit of the most unsympathetic fat Hamlet” (Leo 108). In 1885, Matthias Mull prefaces his own suggestion that the word “fat” is a printer’s error for “faint” with the following tirade: 
The accepted reading, it seems to me, is as gross in the mouth of the Queen as it is repugnant to the situation of the facts. The coarseness of the word fat well befits the stupidity of the mutilation. "The mould of form" corpulent! (lix) 
“Fat” becomes a (textual and corporeal) mutilation that must be trimmed; just as the text must be trimmed of the word to restore the true authorial intention, so too must Hamlet’s body be trimmed to its rightful (fighting) form.
The call for such emendations ends by the beginning of the twentieth century when advances in bibliography make the argument untenable: the word “fat” has the witness of the Second Quarto and the First Folio. One of the last published arguments in favor of textual emendation came in 1919, and its author, editor Elmer Edgar Stoll, apologizes: “That is not sound textual criticism, I know; but if ever an emendation seemed imperative it is here” (67n.8). As early as 1866, W.G. Clark, J. Glover and W.A. Wright, editors of the first Cambridge Shakespeare edition of Hamlet, offer the suggested emendations as “conjectural” (5.2.274n).18 The new way to rid the text of the unwanted fat was to offer a reading of the word that would make it mean anything other than corpulent. A number of the most prominent Shakespeare scholars rushed to find parallel texts from the early modern period that would offer some authority for such a reading, but ultimately, as contemporary editors conclude, no such passage was found. The two glosses suggested in the first half of the twentieth century are still assumed today. George Lyman Kittredge offered “out of training” (5.2.298LN), and J. Dover Wilson “sweaty” (5.2.285n).19 Although scholars would search for parallel texts, the arguments were largely designed to appeal to a shared common sense. Both Kittredge and Wilson refer to present-day meanings, as when Kittredge explains that the word “fat” means “out of training,” or “A modern trainer might use the same word, or he might say that Hamlet is ‘rather soft.’ Fat does not here mean ‘corpulent’” (5.2.298LN).
J. Dover Wilson makes a similar argument. In an audacious note, Wilson sets as his goal nothing less than to put down the entire Variorum tradition whereby the word “fat” was ever read as a comment on the corpulence of the original Hamlet. His argument depends less on any scholarly evidence, however, than on a fatphobia he assumes he shares with his readers:
The argument that “fat” refers to the corpulence (entirely hypothetical) of Richard Burbadge [sic], the actor who first played Ham., really cuts the other way; for if Burbadge in 1601 was getting over-stout for the part of a young student, Sh. would hardly deliberately call attention to the fact. (Wilson 5.2.285n) 
The idea that the adjective referenced Burbage’s corpulence was of course not illogical to a century of readers from Roberts through Collier. Yet Wilson draws on the reader’s own internalized sense that “fat” is an epithet, and thus a word that genteel company would never apply to their friends, at least “deliberately.”
Even in the subjunctive universe in which Wilson momentarily imagines Burbage to have become fat, he cannot bring himself to apply the word to him. Thus, Wilson performs the very courtesy he imagines Shakespeare would have performed for the fat Burbage by using the euphemism “over-stout.” Given that Wilson is generally quite carefully attentive to the etymology and meaning of words, it is striking that he employs a euphemism more proper to the twentieth century than to the early seventeenth (OED “stout,” adj. and adv., 12a). By using the term “over-stout” as a euphemism for “fat,” Wilson draws on his reader’s shared sense that it is impolite to use the word “fat” as a mere descriptor, especially of one’s friends. Those readers who have internalized this form of fatphobia will feel with Dover, as with other twentieth-century critics, that it is “illogical” that Shakespeare would have used the word in this way (Keyes 90). Such an argument, I want to underscore, does not rely on parallel texts from the early modern period, but on our own sense that there is a transhistorical shame attached to the fat body. 

Even the most brilliant Shakespeareans scholars of the early twentieth century proved unable to find early modern examples of the use of “fat” as “an epithet for the condition, rather than the cause of the sweating.” Perhaps they even knew such use never existed, as they began to quote proverbial, folksy Americans for examples of parallel usage. Kittredge asserts, “Nobody who remembers how fat was used by old people in New England sixty years ago will be misled by this adjective” (5.2.298LN). Others turn to the American Midwest, offering various versions of a Midwestern farmwife exclaiming upon seeing perspiring students, “how fat you all are!” (Dunn 375).20

III. Simon Russell Beale's Fat Hamlet

The line "He's fat, and scant of breath" may have been restored to critical editions of the play, but it has yet to be included in most performances. The theatrical tradition from the nineteenth century on has for the most part conformed to Aurelia’s taste of featuring Hamlets that are beautiful, or at least thin. Hamlets have fallen into two recognizable body types: some have had the shorter and muscular frame of Derek Jacobi or Richard Burton, and some have had the taller and leaner frame of a Laurence Olivier or Peter O’Toole. In being confronted with a “fat” Hamlet, these differences seem to fade away into the conviction that the conventional theatrical Hamlet must be thin, or at least not fat. Yet our own perceptions about Hamlet have recently been challenged by an “unconventional” Hamlet: Simon Russell Beale's in the 2000 production mounted by the Royal National Theatre and directed by John Caird. Although the play was almost universally praised, reviewers nonetheless had to remind us that Beale was an unconventional Hamlet because he was too old and too fat.

Responses to Beale’s body underscore the extent to which we labor under a fatphobia informed by essentialist constructions that emerged in the Victorian period. Insofar as the play is still seen as presenting a problem of consciousness, such conceptions of fatness serve for many to explain Hamlet’s presumed limitations. Reviewers focus on Beale’s fat body, even as they refuse to use the word “fat.” He has been variously called “soft,” “chunky,” “stocky,” “plump,” “pudgy,” “portly,” “rounded of figure,” “one of the plumpest Hamlets on record,” or simply “not slim” (Gamerman; Kissel; Gale; Dezell; Taylor; Speirs; Lamb). For some, the fat joke seems irresistible; however, it is often offered delicately by quoting Beale’s own remarks that, in turn, often quote with some distinct irony fatphobic responses to his body. After describing Beale’s body in a somewhat joking manner, one reviewer quotes Beale as making the quip “Tubby or not tubby,” itself a quote from the headline of one of the initial reviews (Lamb). Beale had to go on what seems like an apology tour, in which he repeatedly responded to the fatphobic expectations of the interviewer. One reviewer seems to have called Beale up only (it would seem) to ask him to comment on his unconventional fat body. Beale is quoted, then, as saying the following: “Yes, yes, overweight and too old. . . . Awfully sorry about that” (Gale). Another interview with two unconventional Hamlets — Beale alongside the black British actor Adrian Lester — begins with the same inevitable question about their supposed divergence from the Hamlet of tradition (something that Beale insists is non-existent). Once again, Beale must finally comment on his own fat body: “(Sighs) Tubby or not tubby, which is my dreadlock. Oh, the fat thing. Yes” (Beale).
From the perspective of this article, responses to the fat body seem oddly familiar, if anything having hardened into unexamined doxa. In a review of the American run, the critic of the New York Daily Newsobserves that Beale’s “short and chunky” Hamlet deviates from the conventional Hamlets, characterized by him as “trim, Byronic young men.” He argues that the fatness of Beale’s body is part of the brilliance of the production: 

But that may account for why he’s hanging out in a German college town with dolts like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern . . . at the advanced age of 30 instead of staying in Elsinore and taking on the responsibilities of a ruler. It may also account for why he’s so waspish and meditative and, more important, why he’s so reluctant to take on his evil uncle, Claudius. It wouldn’t be such a problem for a prince who’s combat-ready. (Kissel)

All of this is recognizable in that the fat person is seen as innately idle, cowardly, indulgent, whereas the thin person is implicitly seen as more active, responsible, and “combat-ready.” Another American reviewer operates by a similar assumption, now assuring the reader “How right it seems that Hamlet’s depression would leave him pudgy and unkempt. It’s easy to imagine him moping around the palace in a funk, getting up at two in the afternoon and snacking on the medieval Danish equivalent of Doritos all day” (Gammerman). It is so “easy” or “right” to make this set of associations because the ideological associations with the fat body that began in the Victorian period have hardened into an unquestioned truth today.
This production and responses to it have done quite a bit toward promoting the possibilities of a fat Hamlet, and showing some of the usefulness of having a “fat” actor play the role. I want to suggest, however, that the word “fat,” and thus the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath,” needs to be reintroduced into productions of the text. In some ways, our knowing insistence on omitting and ignoring the line underscores our own unwillingness to consider the ramifications of our targeted use of fatphobic constructions. Euphemisms and jokes allow us to draw upon the deleterious associations of these constructions without ever reflecting on their significance. Simon Russell Beale clearly offends many as Hamlet insofar as his body registers as “fat,” and yet somehow we avoid the word. Some think that the most polite response would be to allow that he somehow transcended his body because “the role is not about body type or age but about, to borrow from Spike Lee, how to ‘Do the Right Thing’” (Lamb). The critical tradition examined here suggests that this is far from the case: there has been a concerted effort to distance “Hamlet” from “fat,” one very literally seen in efforts to excise the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath” from the play or to redefine “fat” as meaning anything else but fat.

The offense is not in having a fat man play the role, but in having a fat man who owns his fatness play the role. Those who did not want Beale to play the role do not want the word “fat” associated with their Hamlet. Much like Lowell, they insist that “A fat Hamlet is as inconceivable as a lean Falstaff,” but it is only inconceivable, it would seem, with some hard work in eliminating or explaining away the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath.” No wonder, then, a famed American theater critic and producer dismisses the “portly” Beale and the line simultaneously: “While always clear-spoken and intelligent, Beale is obviously too portly for the role (yes, Gertrude mentions that Hamlet is ‘fat and scant of breath,’ but this is ridiculous)” (Brustein 65-6). His remarks remind us of how easily the line has been omitted in productions — including the production with Simon Russell Beale!

I want to end by imagining a production very much like this one that also included the line “He’s fat, and scant of breath.” One reviewer has argued that the line should have been included, offering the speculation that it was omitted because it might elicit laughter from the audience. As he explains, “Fearing laughter, perhaps, the ‘fat’ word is cut from the National production but they should have had more courage” (Johnstone). I have little doubt that some in the audience would laugh, and others would feel the urge to laugh as well. The courage in such a production would come from allowing for the laughter. Those who laugh, and those who feel the laugh coming on and understand the “instinct,” are subsequently faced with the realities of the sweating, laboring, and finally dying body of Hamlet. Some, at least, will feel something of the meanness of the inhumanity behind the laughter, and the inhumanity of a construction that sees the fat body before it as “ridiculous.” Perhaps Simon Russell Beale has understood part of this, as someone who has had to work through this laughter. In fact, he sees the whole play as coming down to the final scene, and the “Let be” soliloquy: “There’s this rather amazing moment, if you’re lucky enough to play Hamlet, when you realize that people have followed you for three hours through this terrible story, and you just say to them: ‘Look this is me. I’m worth watching, and I’m a human being’” (Beale). Such a moment becomes all the more humanizing if the audience member realizes that just moments before she was laughing at the very same human being. For a moment, the viciousness of the construction is uncovered, and some can come to realize that the limitations lie not in the fat body in and of itself, but in the emaciating constructions we apply to it.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Lover's Complaint


A Lover's Complaint

FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age.
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season'd woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.
Sometimes her levell'd eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and, nowhere fix'd,
The mind and sight distractedly commix'd.
Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.
A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.
Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perused, sigh'd, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penn'd in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed, and seal'd to curious secrecy.
These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss'd, and often 'gan to tear:
Cried 'O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!'
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.
A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh--
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew--
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.
So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promised in the charity of age.
'Father,' she says, 'though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, If I had self-applied
Love to myself and to no love beside.
'But, woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit--it was to gain my grace--
Of one by nature's outwards so commended,
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodged and newly deified.
'His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind,
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.
'Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear
Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear:
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.
'His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free;
Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm
As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.
'Well could he ride, and often men would say
'That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop
he makes!'
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.
'But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplish'd in himself, not in his case:
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.
'So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will:
'That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted:
Consents bewitch'd, ere he desire, have granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Ask'd their own wills, and made their wills obey.
'Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th' imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assign'd;
And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:
'So many have, that never touch'd his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, not in part,
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.
'Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded:
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.
'But, ah, who ever shunn'd by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples, 'gainst her own content,
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay;
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.
'Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
That we must curb it upon others' proof;
To be forbod the sweets that seem so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though Reason weep, and cry, 'It is thy last.'
'For further I could say 'This man's untrue,'
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew,
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.
'And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been call'd unto,
Till now did ne'er invite, nor never woo.
''All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind;
Love made them not: with acture they may be,
Where neither party is nor true nor kind:
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains,
By how much of me their reproach contains.
''Among the many that mine eyes have seen,
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm'd,
Or my affection put to the smallest teen,
Or any of my leisures ever charm'd:
Harm have I done to them, but ne'er was harm'd;
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
And reign'd, commanding in his monarchy.
''Look here, what tributes wounded fancies sent me,
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood;
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimson'd mood;
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamp'd in hearts, but fighting outwardly.
''And, lo, behold these talents of their hair,
With twisted metal amorously impleach'd,
I have received from many a several fair,
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech'd,
With the annexions of fair gems enrich'd,
And deep-brain'd sonnets that did amplify
Each stone's dear nature, worth, and quality.
''The diamond,--why, 'twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green emerald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazon'd, smiled or made some moan.
''Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
But yield them up where I myself must render,
That is, to you, my origin and ender;
For these, of force, must your oblations be,
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.
''O, then, advance of yours that phraseless hand,
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise;
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallow'd with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your minister, for you obeys,
Works under you; and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.
''Lo, this device was sent me from a nun,
Or sister sanctified, of holiest note;
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove,
To spend her living in eternal love.
''But, O my sweet, what labour is't to leave
The thing we have not, mastering what not strives,
Playing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves?
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight,
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.
''O, pardon me, in that my boast is true:
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue,
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out Religion's eye:
Not to be tempted, would she be immured,
And now, to tempt, all liberty procured.
''How mighty then you are, O, hear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well,
And mine I pour your ocean all among:
I strong o'er them, and you o'er me being strong,
Must for your victory us all congest,
As compound love to physic your cold breast.
''My parts had power to charm a sacred nun,
Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace,
Believed her eyes when they to assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place:
O most potential love! vow, bond, nor space,
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine,
For thou art all, and all things else are thine.
''When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame,
How coldly those impediments stand forth
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame!
Love's arms are peace, 'gainst rule, 'gainst sense,
'gainst shame,
And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.
''Now all these hearts that do on mine depend,
Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine;
And supplicant their sighs to you extend,
To leave the battery that you make 'gainst mine,
Lending soft audience to my sweet design,
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.'
'This said, his watery eyes he did dismount,
Whose sights till then were levell'd on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flow'd apace:
O, how the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.
'O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! cold modesty, hot wrath,
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.
'For, lo, his passion, but an art of craft,
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daff'd,
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to him, as he to me appears,
All melting; though our drops this difference bore,
His poison'd me, and mine did him restore.
'In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives,
Of burning blushes, or of weeping water,
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves,
In either's aptness, as it best deceives,
To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes,
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.
'That not a heart which in his level came
Could 'scape the hail of his all-hurting aim,
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
And, veil'd in them, did win whom he would maim:
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burn'd in heart-wish'd luxury,
He preach'd pure maid, and praised cold chastity.
'Thus merely with the garment of a Grace
The naked and concealed fiend he cover'd;
That th' unexperient gave the tempter place,
Which like a cherubin above them hover'd.
Who, young and simple, would not be so lover'd?
Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.
'O, that infected moisture of his eye,
O, that false fire which in his cheek so glow'd,
O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestow'd,
O, all that borrow'd motion seeming owed,
Would yet again betray the fore-betray'd,
And new pervert a reconciled maid!'