CXXX – Shakespeare

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
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.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,–
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Excerpt from The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

Bard’s Fifty-fifth Sonnet:

“Nont marble, nor the gilded monuments

of princes, shall out live this powerful rhyme;

But you shall shine more bright on these contents

Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.”

(Off topic, but: What a slut time is. She screws everybody.) It’s a fine poem, but a deceitful one: We do indeed remember Shakespeare’s powerful rhyme, but what do we remember without the person it commemorates? Nothing. We’re pretty sure he was a male; everything else is guesswork. Shakespeare told us precious little of the man whom he entombed in his linguistic sarcophagus. (Witness also that when we talk about literature, we do so in the present tense. When we speak of the dead, we are not so kind.) You do not immortalize the lost by writing about them. Language buries, but does not resurrect…The dead are visible only in the terrible lidless eye of memory. The living, thank heaven, retain the ability to surprise and disappoint.