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The Rival Poet's Reply to William Shakespeare's Sonnet 3

Updated on January 12, 2018
Lord of Poetry profile image

World's lone sonnet grandmaster. Shakespeare's Sonnet 1 describes him as “the world’s fresh ornament and only herald to the gaudy spring."

Am I my Mother's mirror? You alone
have called me such. A commoner am I
yet there's an ancient pact that's cast in stone
with Mother Earth who also reigns on High.

My Queen desired a son of flesh and bone
to serve Her cause, on whom She could rely
to act as guard and champion of Her throne;
and serve Her children's needs beneath the Sky.

Thus I did penance at age 28:
to purify myself and heed Her call;
to die of old self and embody Truth.

Concerning my allure, that's strange and late:
not with misfortunes that on me befall;
and I have squandered all the strength of youth.

-- Jose Rizal M. Reyes
La Trinidad, Benguet province
April 2, 2012 / Monday

rhyming pattern: abab abab cde cde
sonnet type: Sicilian sonnet 2 in iambic pentameter

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 3

Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remembered not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.

Notes and Commentaries

✿ Re "Mother's mirror"

"Mother's glass in line 9 means "mother's mirror". Shakespeare's sonnet III reminds me of the story about a teacher in ancient Greece who prophesied to his pupils that one among them would rise to become a king or ruler. He said that the first among them to kiss his mother was the one who would achieve that happy destiny. Everyone hurriedly left and went home to kiss their mothers. But one pupil fell to the ground and kissed Mother Earth and thus claimed the prophecy for himself.

Elected kings (as contrasted with hereditary kings) were not unusual among the ancient Greeks. During the time of King Leonidas, for example, the Spartans had a system of government where they would elect two kings to rule over them, so that each one could check the other. This is apart from a powerful Council of Elders that also served as a check against the rise of a tyrant. In other words, a Spartan king is not that powerful nor special.

That is why it was easy for the Spartans and the Greek alliance as a whole to sacrifice King Leonidas at Thermopylae to secure the victory of the Greeks against the Persian invaders. For the Oracle of Delphi had prophesied that for Sparta to avoid being sacked by the Persians, a Spartan king must die. This was interpreted as a precondition for the victory of Greece over Persia.

✿ Re "with Mother Earth who also reigns on High"

From a higher or deeper spiritual perspective, all aspects or manifestations of the Divine Mother are one and the same. There is oneness in Divinity. As stated in Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one!" Or as Jesus said: "I and my Father are one".

The feminine aspect of God can be inferred from Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Now, if man who was modeled after God was created male and female, therefore God the model must also have both masculine and feminine aspects. It is said that the Shekinah glory represents the Mother aspect of God.

✿ Re "and I have squandered all the strength of youth"

This line jibes with the description of the so-called Fair Youth and Rival Poet in the Shakesperian sonnets, ehem. This also echoes Isaiah 49:4: "Then I said , I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God".

Sir Francis Bacon who wrote the Shakesperian sonnets must have been aware of the aforesaid biblical passage and its special significance. After all, he was the chief editor of the highly acclaimed King James Version of the Bible.

✿ Off-the-cuff remark 1

Aw, wrong rhyme pattern for the sestet again. I used here cdc dcd when I'm supposed to use today the easier cde cde. I have already used abab abab cdc dcd yesterday and I have made a decision to use a rhyme pattern only once in my replies. Time to troubleshoot again.

Thus I did penance in my later youth:
to purify myself and heed Her call;
to die of old self and embody Truth.

I did good progress -- that much I recall.
But messing with the world bears disrepute.
Still I shall soldier onward, warts and all.

✿ Off-the-cuff remark 2

Nice! I guess I covered more ground with this sestet:

Thus I did penance at age 28:
to purify myself and heed Her call;
to die of old self and embody Truth.

But of my own allure, that's strange and late:
not with misfortunes that on me befall;
and I've squandered all the strength of youth.


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    • Lord of Poetry profile image

      Jose Rizal Reyes 6 months ago from Tabing Dagat, Odiongan, Romblon, Philippines

      Date of publication cannot be ascertained. On July 13, 2017, the HP Team informed me that Reply 3 was eligible for elevation to LetterPile.