The Monument
Shakespeare's Sonnets

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The 1609 Quarto:

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The Structure of Shake-speares
Sonnets as a Monument

Another key discovery of the Monument solution is that there is, in fact, a structure to the entire sonnet sequence as published in the 1609 Quarto. Revealing this structure makes clear that the entire 1609 sequence is in authorial order.

Furthermore, the basic already acknowledged elements of the 1609 structure (the marriage sonnets 1-17, the Fair Youth sonnets 1-126, the Dark Lady sonnets 127-152, and the two sonnets at the end (153-154) now make sense. All of these sequences have been noted by earlier sonnet commentators, but never before has it been considered that everything was meant to fit together structurally into a coherent whole.

The key new insight provided by the Monument solution is in seeing that a break occurs with sonnet 26, and a new sequence begins with sonnet 27. The broad overview of this structure can be seen here:       

                         "The Little Love-God"    

                      (2 sonnets) 
         "Lord of My Love"  "My Lovely Boy"  "The Dark Lady"
  1-26            27-126          127-152      
   (26 sonnets)    (100 sonnets)    (26 sonnets) 
The Bath Epilogue (Sonnets 153-154) is actually the prologue, representing the first year in the life of Southampton as "the Little Love-God" born in 1574. 
The main string of the Shakespeare sonnets is divided into three segments by two envoys, Sonnet 26 and Sonnet 126, thus creating the central string of 100 sonnets.

The 100-sonnet center of the Monument is a diary beginning with Sonnet 27 upon the failure of the Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601, when the popular earls of Essex and Southampton were taken as prisoners to the Tower of London.  The central sequence ends abruptly after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth I on April 28, 1603, with Sonnet 126 as Edward de Vere's farewell to "my lovely Boy."

This 100-sonnet center is comprised of ten “chapters” of exactly ten sonnets apiece, like the chapters of a book or the movements of a musical composition.  The chapters begin with sonnet numbers ending with 7, the way Chapter One opens with Sonnet 27; and they conclude with sonnet numbers ending in 6, the way Chapter One comes to its end with Sonnet 36. 

The center of the eighty prison sonnets [27 to 106] is Sonnets 66-67, which represent a crucial turning point; the center of the entire sequence of 100 sonnets [27 to 126] is Sonnets 76-77, which contains the key to the language of the Sonnets and to the way in which the language leads to the chronology or timeline. 
Following is a detailed description of how each sonnet fits into the both the structural sequence and the historical context of the lives of Southampton, Elizabeth and Oxford, and their mutual involvement in the succession crisis of the 1590s, culminating in the Essex Rebellion of 1601. 

Included in the following sonnet-by-sonnet list of how the chapters and structure fit together are examples of how various researchers in the past have noted the same features, demonstrating a “long foreground” of observation and commentary made in advance of the “macro” explanation outlined here.

First, let us quote from that "long foreground" two relevant comments about the overall structure of the Sonnets (as presented in the 1609 Quarto) and the identity of the Fair Youth:


“It is hardly to be expected that the sonnet sequence of a poet so intellectually brilliant as Shakespeare should lack the structural art and finesse valued in his age … The spatial arrangement of Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence leaves little room for permutations: its form asserts a design far too positive for us to be free to change it at will. The pyramidal numbers imply, most obviously, that Shakespeare designed the sequence to function as a monument.” – Alastair Fowler, 1970


“If we may be allowed, in our turn, to conjecture, we would fix upon LORD SOUTHAMPTON as the subject of Shakespeare’s sonnets, from the first to the hundredth and twenty-sixth, inclusive.” – Nathan Drake, 1817

Sonnets 1 - 26

“The incessant demand that the man should marry and found a family [in Sonnets 1-17] would seem to be inconsistent with a real homosexual passion. It is not even very obviously consistent with sexual friendship. It is indeed hard to think of any real situation in which it would be natural.  What man in the whole world, except a father or a potential father-in-law, cares whether any other man gets married?” – J. Dover Wilson, 1963

         THE MARRIAGE PROPOSAL - 17 SONNETS (1590-1591)
         SONNET 1 1590-91   “That Thereby Beauty’s Rose Might Never Die”
         SONNET 2 1590-91   “Beauty By Succession”
         SONNET 3 1590-91   “Thy Mother’s Glass … Thy Golden Time”
         SONNET 4 1590-91   “The Bounteous Largess Given Thee to Give”
         SONNET 5 1590-91   “Never-Resting Time Leads Summer On”
         SONNET 6 1590-91   “Be  Not Self-Willed”
         SONNET 7 1590-91   “His  Sacred Majesty”
         SONNET 8 1590-91   “Sire, and Child, and Happy Mother”
         SONNET 9 1590-91   “Beauty’s Waste”
         SONNET 10 1590-91  “Make Thee Another Self For Love of Me”
         SONNET 11 1590-91  “She Carved Thee for Her Seal”
         SONNET 12 1590-91  “Time’s Scythe”
         SONNET 13 1590-91  “Who Lets So Fair a House Fall to Decay”
         SONNET 14 1590-91  “Thy End is Truth’s and Beauty’s Doom and  Date”
         SONNET 15 1590-91  “And All in War with Time for Love of You”
         SONNET 16 1590-91  “This Bloody Tyrant Time”
         SONNET 17 1591     “Your True Rights be  Termed a Poet’s Rage” 

“Had the first seventeen sonnets reached us alone and not as part of the conglomerate of the 1609 quarto, their date and purpose would have been universally recognized long ago … Though Southampton persisted to the end in his refusal to marry Lady Elizabeth Vere, it was not for want of urging of marriage by William Shakesepare.” – G. P. V. Akrigg, 1968

         SONNET 18 1592  “When in Eternal Lines to Time Thou Grow’st”
                         “For  Beauty’s Pattern to Succeeding Men”
                         “A Man in  Hew All Hews in His Controlling”
         SONNET 21 1595  “Sunne and Moone”
         SONNET 22 1596  “As Tender Nurse Her Babe”
         SONNET 23 1597  “O Learn to Read What Silent Love Hath Writ”
         SONNET 24 1598  “Your True Image”
                         “The Painful Warrior”

“No lines could have been penned more apposite to the fall and disgrace of Essex after his military failure in Ireland.” – George Wyndham, 1898, referring to the lines of Sonnet 25

    SONNET 26 1600 ENVOY  

“The first section of the Sonnets ends with an envoi, Sonnet 26 … The sonnet reads like an envoi to the whole of this first section, Sonnets 1-26.” – A. L. Rowse, 1964

Sonnets 27 – 126

“Centuries or ‘hundreds’ of literary pieces were in fashion – of songs, sonnets, prayers, sermons, hymns … Shakespeare’s Sonnets 27-126 are a Century.” – Edgar I. Fripp, 1938 

“Suddenly we are all adrift, because the spirit of the verses so obviously changes [from Sonnet 26 to Sonnet 27] – Gerald Massey, 1866

THE PRISON YEARS (FEB 8, 1601-APRIL 9, 1603)

         CHAPTER ONE: THE CRIME (SONNETS 27-26  FEB. 8-17, 1601) 
         SONNET 27 Feb 8, 1601             THE REBELLION; IMPRISONMENT 
                                 “A Jewel Hung in Ghastly Night”
         SONNET 28 Feb 9, 1601   “Day  by Night and Night by Day Oppressed”
         SONNET 29 Feb 10, 1601  “When in Disgrace”
         SONNET 30 Feb 11, 1601            SUMMONED TO SESSIONS [TRIAL]
                                 “When  to the Sessions … I Summon Up”
         SONNET 31 Feb 12, 1601  “Thou Art the Grave”                                         
         SONNET 32 Feb 13, 1601  “A Dearer Birth”
         SONNET 33 Feb 14, 1601            RECALLING SOUTHAMPTON’S BIRTH
                                 “Even so My Sunne”
         SONNET 34 Feb 15, 1601  “Ransom All Ill Deeds”
         SONNET 35 Feb 16, 1601  “Thy Adverse Party is Thy Advocate” 
         SONNET 36 Feb 17, 1601            SOUTHAMPTON INDICTED 
                                 “I May Not Ever-More Acknowledge Thee”
         [10 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER TWO: THE TRIAL (SONNETS 37-46  FEB. 18-27, 1601) 
         SONNET 37  Feb 18, 1601  “As a Decrepit Father”
         SONNET 38  Feb 19, 1601           TRIAL, VERDICT & SENTENCE
                                  “The Pain Be Mine”
         SONNET 39  Feb 20, 1601  “Thou art All the Better Part of Me”
         SONNET 40  Feb 21, 1601  “I Do Forgive Thy Robbery, Gentle Thief”
         SONNET 41  Feb 22, 1601  “What Woman’s Son”
         SONNET 42  Feb 23, 1601  “That She Hath Thee is of My Wailing  Chief”
         SONNET 43  Feb 24, 1601  “All Days are Nights”
         SONNET 44  Feb 25, 1601           EXECUTION OF ESSEX BY BEHEADING 
                                  “Heavy Tears, Badges of Either’s Woe”
         SONNET 45  Feb 26, 1601           SOUTHAMPTON’S HEALTH IMPROVES
                                  “Assured of Thy Fair Health”    
         SONNET 46  Feb 27, 1601  “And by Their Verdict is Determined”         
[20 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER THREE: THE PLEA (SONNETS 47-56  FEB. 28 - MAR. 9, 1601)          

         SONNET 47  Feb 28, 1601           OXFORD MAKES BARGAIN WITH CECIL
                                   “A League is Took”
         SONNET 48  March 1, 1601  “Locked  Up”
         SONNET 49  March 2, 1601  “To Guard the Lawful Reasons on  Thy Part” 
         SONNET 50  March 3, 1601          OXFORD LEAVES SON AFTER  VISIT
                                   “My Grief Lies Onward and My Joy Behind”
         SONNET 51  March 4, 1601          OXFORD RECALLS LEAVING TOWER
                                   “From Where Thou Art”
         SONNET 52  March 5, 1601          TRIAL OF OTHER CONSPIRATORS
         SONNET 53  March 6, 1601  “Millions of Strange Shadows on  You Tend”
         SONNET 54  March 7, 1601  “Sweet Roses … Sweet Deaths”
         SONNET 55  March 8, 1601            OXFORD VOWS “LIVING RECORD” 
                                   “The Living Record of Your Memory”
         SONNET 56  March 9, 1601  “This Sad Interim”
[30 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER FOUR: THE REPRIEVE (SONNETS 57-66  MAR. 10-19, 1601)

         SONNET 57  March 10, 1601  “I (My Sovereign) Watch the Clock for You”
         SONNET 58  March 11, 1601  “Imprisoned … Pardon … Crime”
         SONNET 59  March 12, 1601  “The Second Burden of a Former Child”
         SONNET 60  March 13, 1601               EXECUTIONS OF MERRICK & CUFFE
                                    “Crooked  Eclipses ‘Gainst His Glory Fight”
         SONNET 61  March 14, 1601  “To Play the Watchman Ever for Thy Sake”
         SONNET 62  March 15, 1601  “’Tis  Thee (My Self)”
         SONNET 63  March 16, 1601  “For Such a Time Do I Now Fortify”
         SONNET 64  March 17, 1601  “This Thought is as a Death”
         SONNET 65  March 18, 1601         EXECUTIONS OF DANVERS & BLOUNT
                                    “How With This Rage”
         SONNET 66  March 19, 1601         ELIZABETH SPARES SOUTHAMPTON
                                    “Save That to Die, I Leave My Love Alone”         
         [40 of 100 sonnets = center of the prison sonnets]

“It is tempting to suspect a glance at the control of the State, including vigorous military men like Raleigh and Essex, by the limping Robert Cecil” – J. Dover Wilson, 1969, writing of the line “And strength by limping sway disabled” in Sonnet 66.

         CHAPTER FIVE: THE PUNISHMENT (SONNETS 67-76 MAR. 20-29, 1601)      
         SONNET 67  March 20, 1601  “Ah, Wherefore With Infection”
         SONNET 68  March 21, 1601  “When Beauty Lived and Died”
         SONNET 69  March 22, 1601         SOUTHAMPTON NOW A COMMONER
                                    “Thou Dost Common Grow”
         SONNET 70  March 23, 1601  “Thou  Hast Passed By the Ambush”
         SONNET 71  March 24, 1601  “My  Poor Name”
         SONNET 72  March 25, 1601  “My  Name Be Buried”
         SONNET 73  March 26, 1601         THE PHOENIX & TURTLE 
                                    “Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang”
         SONNET 74  March 27, 1601  “My  Spirit is Thine, the Better Part of Me”
         SONNET 75  March 28, 1601  “All, or All Away”
         SONNET 76  March 29, 1601         OXFORD’S “INVENTION” 
                                    “And Keep Invention in a Noted Weed”
[50 of 100 sonnets = Center of the Monument]
         CHAPTER SIX: THE SACRIFICE (SONNET 77-86  MAR. 30 - APR. 8, 1601)
         SONNET 77  Mr 30, 1601            DEDICATION OF “THIS BOOK” 
                                   “This  Book … Thy Book”
         SONNET 78  Mr 31, 1601            SACRIFICE TO “SHAKE-SPEARE”
                                   “Every Alien Pen Hath Got My Use”
         SONNET 79  April 1, 1601  “My Sick Muse Doth Give Another Place”
         SONNET 80  April 2, 1601  “A Better Spirit Doth Use Your Name”
         SONNET 81  April 3, 1601          OXFORD VOWS “MONUMENT” 
                                   “Your Monument Shall Be My Gentle Verse” 
         SONNET 82  April 4, 1601  “Dedicated Words … Blessing Every  Book”
         SONNET 83  April 5, 1601  “Both Your Poets”
         SONNET 84  April 6, 1601  “If He Can Tell That You are You”
         SONNET 85  April 7, 1601  “My Tongue-Tied Muse”
         SONNET 86  April 8, 1601          SACRIFICE TO “SHAKE-SPEARE” ENDS 
                                   “The Proud Full Sail of His Great Verse”
[60 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER SEVEN: THE INSTRUCTION (SONNETS 88-96  APR. 9, 1601 - JAN. 1602
         SONNET 87 April 9,1601            CRIME REDUCED TO “MISPRISION” 
                                   “Upon Misprision Growing”              
         SONNET 88 May 1601                INSTRUCTIONS TO ROYAL SON  
                                   “For Thy Right Myself Will Bear All Wrong”
         SONNET 89 June 1601       “I Will Acquaintance Strangle”
         SONNET 90 July 1601       “To Linger Out a Purposed Overthrow”
         SONNET 91 Aug 1601        “Thy Love is Better Than High Birth to Me”
         SONNET 92 Sep 1601        “For Term of Life … On Thy Revolt”
         SONNET 93 Oct 1601        “Heaven in Thy Creation Did Decree” 
         SONNET 94 Nov 1601        “Inherit Heaven’s Graces”
         SONNET 95 Dec 1601        “A Canker in the Fragrant Rose”
         SONNET 96 Jan 1602        “On the Finger of a Throned Queen…”
          [70 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER EIGHT: THE PROPHECY (FEB. 8, 1601 - APR. 9, 1603) 
         SONNET 97 Feb 8, 1602             1ST ANNIVERSARY OF REBELLION
                                   “How Like a Winter … The Fleeting Year”
         SONNET 98 Mar-April 1602  “From You Have I Been Absent”
         SONNET 99 May-June1602    “The Roses Fearfully on Thorns”
         SONNET 100 July-Aug 1602  “Give My Love Fame Faster Than Time”
         SONNET 101 Sept-Oct 1602  “Truth and Beauty on My Love Depends”
         SONNET 102 Nov-Dec 1602   “My Love is Strengthened”
         SONNET 103 Jan 1603       “O  Blame Me Not if I No More Can Write!”
         SONNET 104 Feb 8, 1603            2ND ANNIVERSARY OF REBELLION
                                   “Three Winters Cold …”
         SONNET 105 March 24, 1603         QUEEN’S DEATH; JAMES SUCCEEDS 
                                   “Never Kept Seat in One”
         SONNET 106 April 9, 1603          LAST NIGHT IN THE TOWER
                                   “The Chronicle of Wasted Time”
[80 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER NINE: THE CONTRACT (SONNETS 108-116  APR. 11-19, 1603)  
         SONNET 107 April 10, 1603         SOUTHAMPTON LIBERATED
                                    “Supposed as Forfeit to a Confined Doom”

“[Sonnet 107] makes references that cannot be mistaken to three events that took place in 1603 – Queen Elizabeth’s death, the accession of James I, and the release of the Earl of Southampton” – Sir Sidney Lee, 1898

         SONNET 108  April 11, 1603  “Prayers Divine … Thou Mine, I Thine”
         SONNET 109  April 12, 1603        OXFORD WILL BE WATER-BEARER 
                                     “My Self Bring Water for My Stain”
         SONNET 110  April 13, 1603  “A God in Love, to Whom I am Confined”
         SONNET 111  April 14, 1603  “The Guilty Goddess”
         SONNET 112  April 15, 1603  “You Are My All The World” 
         SONNET 113  April 16, 1603        FINAL MEETING 
                                     “Since I Left You”
         SONNET 114  April 17, 1603        OXFORD WILL PREPARE CUP 
                                     “And  to His Palate Doth Prepare the Cup”
         SONNET 115  April 18, 1603  “Change Decrees of Kings”
         SONNET 116  April 19, 1603  “The Marriage of True Minds”
         [90 of 100 sonnets]
         CHAPTER TEN: THE OBLATION (SONNETS 117-126  APR. 20-29, 1603)     
         SONNET 117  April 20, 1603  “The Constancy and Virtue of Your Love”
         SONNET 118  April 21, 1603  “A Healthful State”
         SONNET 119  April 22, 1603  “Ruined Love When It is Built Anew”
         SONNET 120  April 23, 1603  “Your Crime … Your Trespass … Ransom”
         SONNET 121  April 24, 1603  “I Am That I Am”
         SONNET 122  April 25, 1603  “Thy Record Never Can Be Missed”
         SONNET 123  April 26, 1603  “No! Time, Thou Shalt Not Boast”
         SONNET 124  April 27, 1603  “The Child of State”
         SONNET 125  April 28, 1603        QUEEN’S FUNERAL; DYNASTY ENDS
                                     “The Canopy … Take Thou My Oblation”

“Through its relation to ‘obsequy, ‘funeral,’ ‘obsequious had the specialized meaning ‘dutiful in performing funeral rites and invites a reader to think of the canopy as borne in a funeral procession.” – Commenting on Sonnet 125, Stephen Booth, 1975

        SONNET 126 April 29, 1603           ENVOY OF FAREWELL 
                                      “O Thou my Lovely Boy, Who in Thy Power” 
                                          (                                  )
                                          (                                  )      
[100 of 100 sonnets]

“This six-couplet poem [Sonnet 126] marks the completion of the ‘fair youth’ sequence … [Its twelve lines] leave the reader with a sense of incompleteness or sudden ending, which is reinforced by the empty parentheses which follow, as if they figure the emptiness which will ensue – ‘The rest is silence’ – Hamlet” – Katherine Duncan-Jones, 1997

SONNETS 127 - 152
(26 Sonnets)

“Initiating the ‘dark lady’ sequence”– Katherine Duncan-Jones, 1997, writing of Sonnet 127

THE DARK LADY SERIES (February 8, 1601 - March 24, 1603)
          SONNET 127                       Feb 8, 1601 THE REBELLION; IMPRISONMENT
                                     “Beauty’s Successive Heir … Bastard Shame”    
          SONNET 128                       Feb 25, 1601 EXECUTION OF ESSEX 
                                     “Those Jacks That Nimble Leap … Dead Wood”
          SONNET 129                 “The Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame”
          SONNET 130                 “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sunne”
          SONNET 131                 “Thy Black is Fairest in My Judgment’s Place”
          SONNET 132                 “Those Two Mourning Eyes Become Thy Face”

The following two sonnets are linked directly to Sonnets 40-41-42 of the Fair Youth Series, with Oxford grieving over the fact that Elizabeth is keeping their son in the Tower. In Sonnet 42 he likens his own suffering to that of Christ, writing of Elizabeth and Southampton:

Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross.

Now in Sonnets 133 and 134 he focuses on the same situation and theme. In 1911, without having any idea about the Earl of Oxford as the poet, Edward Joseph White wrote in his book Commentaries on the Law in Shakespeare: “Sonnet 134 clearly refers to the confinement of Southampton in the Tower and Sonnet 133 expresses the Poet’s desire to be permitted to go his bail, by substituting his own person for that of his friend, in jail … The Poet here proffers to forfeit himself as security for his friend [Southampton].”

          SONNET 133                 “Of Him, My Self, and Thee, I Am Forsaken”
          SONNET 134My Self I’ll Forfeit”
          SONNET 135                 “Let No Unkind, No Fair Beseechers Kill”
          SONNET 136                 “Among a Number One is Reckoned None”
          SONNET 137                 “Why of Eyes’ Falsehood Has Thou Forged Hooks?”
          SONNET 138                       REVISED FROM PASSIONATE PILGRIM 1599
                                     “Her False-Speaking  Tongue”
          SONNET 139                 “Kill Me Outright”
          SONNET 140                 “If I Should Despair I Should Grow Mad”
          SONNET 141                 “Thy Proud Heart’s Slave and Vassal Wretch”
          SONNET 142                 “Love is My Sin, and Thy Dear Virtue Hate”
          SONNET 143                 “Her Neglected Child … I, Thy Babe”
          SONNET 144                       REVISED FROM PASSIONATE PILGRIM 1599
                                     “Two Loves I Have  of Comfort and Despair”
          SONNET 145                       March 19, 1601  ELIZABETH SPARES SOUTHAMPTON
                                     “Straight in Her Heart Did Mercy Come”
          SONNET 146                 "Thy Fading Mansion … Is This Thy Body’s End?”
          SONNET 147                 “Who Art Black as Hell, as Dark as Night”
          SONNET 148                 “So Vexed With Watching and With Tears”
          SONNET 149                 “Commanded by the Motion of Thine Eyes”
          SONNET 150                 “To Make Me Give the Lie to My True Sight”
          SONNET 151                 "For Thou Betraying Me, I Do Betray My Nobler Part”
          SONNET 152                       March 23, 1603 DEATH OF ELIZABETH
                                     "To swear against the truth so foul a lie."

Sonnets 153-154
(2 Sonnets)

“Here, then, [in Sonnets 153-154] I believe, we have an allusion to the poet’s ‘Mistress,’ the Virgin Queen, and to the City of Bath … Was Shakespeare at Bath with the Queen?  I think it probable that ‘Shake-speare’ was … That he would be found among cultured Elizabethan courtiers of high position, I can entertain no doubt.” – Sir George Greenwood, 1908

          THE BATH VISIT (1574)

          SONNET 153 August 1574           OXFORD & ELIZABETH AT BATH 
                                      “A Sovereign Cure …The  Boy … My Mistress’ Eye”  
          SONNET 154 August 1574           OXFORD & ELIZABETH AT BATH
                                      “The Little Love-God … By a  Virgin Hand Disarmed”