Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sonnet

Lady Audley by Hans Holbein

I send thee here this symbol of my love,
A sucket fork to take thy sweetmeats up,
And press them twixt thy lips my precious Dove,
Or cherries pick from this our Loving Cup;
And see, the handle carved of heartwood fine,
A filial of brass which crowns the very tip,
And your initials interlaced with mine,
Strong iron tines thy kissing-comfits grip;
And so sweet Chuck pray take this precious gift,
When thou attends’t The Rose this very night,
And pierce the sugar-bread, and lift
The marchpane, plum or fig for your delight;
Pray use this token for my Sweeting’s pleasure,
But guard it well and keep it close as treasure.

© Marilyn Brindley


A ‘sucket’ was a sweetmeat such as sugar-bread or gingerbread, marchpane (marzipan) or a ‘kissing-comfit’ which would have been used to sweeten the breath. Such a fork was recently found by archaeologists  at The Rose Theatre on Bankside, which pre-dates The Globe by about ten years. The fork, which is now housed in the Museum of London, was the subject of a recent BBC Radio 4 programme; ‘Snacking Through Shakespeare’ as part of the excellent series; ‘Shakespeare’s Restless World’. and is still available as a podcast here. The website also has a transcript of the programme and a picture of the fork itself.  A fork was a rarity in Shakespeare’s day and the one in the museum was evidently dropped by some careless nobleman or his lady, where it remained, along with pottery shards and the remains of cuttlefish, and nutshells until its discovery. 
I imagined my sonnet being sent with the fork as a lover’s gift from a young nobleman, with an admonition to take care of it, as it was so precious and rare an object. He hopes she’ll use it to spear her  sweetmeats and imagines them being passed from the fork to her lips.  I used the description of the sucket fork found in The Rose. If you want to know more about how Elizabethan theatregoers behaved; the noisy gassy sounds their ale bottles made, what they ate, how they threw apples at the stage if displeased with the performance and how they peed in dark corners, then listen to this wonderful short programme (or read the transcript). I wonder what the young man said to his ‘Sweeting’, his ‘Chuck’, his ‘Dove’ when she had to confess that she had lost the precious object.  

This was written for The Mag, where Tess Kincaid gives us a picture prompt every week, to set us off on our creative path. This week the picture was. ‘It Must be Time for Lunch Now’ (1979) by the talented but tragic artist, Francesca Woodman, and, not surprisingly, forks featured quite heavily in the photograph.

If you like Shakespeare, you may enjoy my Richard III poem, 'These Bones'. you can read it here. 

17 comments:

  1. What a lovely sonnet and your background information makes for a delightful reading ~

    And if she has lost this treasured sucket fork, I too wonder what her excuse was ~

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  2. Superior sonneteering; excellent. By the way, you're probably right about how urinary problems were handled in the playhouses, but as for the, er, other - how was this done? There seem to have been no toilets.

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    1. According to the podcast transcript: "for more serious defecation I think they'd be going outside somewhere, possibly even to the riverside.'

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    2. Andrew Gurr wrote: "There may have been buckets in the corridors at the back of the galleries."

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  3. I've read and re-read this, Little Nell. It's wonderful.

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  4. Your sonnet is scrumptious ... the notes a great postscript!!!

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  5. absolutely gorgeous!!!the ancient words...the tastes and the later info..thank you!!

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  6. I haven'd read much by Shakespeare, for me reading standard English is hard enough, let along 16th century sonnets. I'm glad we don't pee in the corners anymore :-)

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  7. A beautiful sonnet, but it doth make me blush.

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  8. What a delightful sonnet and explanation. Amazing what inspiration creates when so many look at the same image.

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  9. You have got me in with this concept of the fork as a magical talisman. But what is its nature? , three tynes and a hummng sound, most gigh, like a tuning fork. I doth think it is a most important piece of kit, in our world, used daily and emthusiastically by billions. Perhaps it is golding some archetypal force in place that is pivotal to our existence. ? Thank you, love to JFK

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  10. Nope, I have to admit defeat. Not a clue what you're saying this time. I struggled with 'gigh' and 'golding' for ages, thinking there was some hidden meaning that i was missing.....then I realised that it was simply a keyboard error :) The fork in my poem wasn't a magical talisman, simply an unusual love token. As always your comments are appreciated, but they do tax my brain somewhat!

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  11. Delightfully educational. Lovely!

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  12. Well done...sonnets are not the easiest to write...

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  13. So very impressive, and speaks of a love so strong it could survive any fork in the road! (I couldn't resist playing with the fork!)I just drew a blank this week, as lovely as her work was it was tragic how her life ended, and I just couldn't find the light as you did so well!

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