The Rival Poet's Reply to William Shakespeare's Sonnet 1

Updated on January 12, 2018
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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 among the fairest? Only you
have called me such; a commoner am I
yet treated as if royalty by you
when it is you of regal birth, not I.

It's crystal clear my sins were known to you:
the reason why somebody else than I
should harp the gaudy spring -- a prince like you;
or else your friend, a truer saint than I.

Why should I have a son -- am I as gold
when I am worth as nothing at my age?
You are the golden man! And more than gold!

Let's rather talk about the Golden Age.
Your black-pot ribbing is like brass, not gold:
You too begat no son at any age!

-- Jose Rizal M. Reyes
Baguio City, Philippines
high March 2012 Black Saturday / Sabado de Gloria

rhyming pattern: 1212 1212 343 434
sonnet type: the original Sicilian -- Sicilian sonnet 0 (as in Ground Zero) -- mother of all sonnet rhyme schemes

Sir Francis Bacon and his disciple.
Sir Francis Bacon and his disciple.

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 1

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

Notes and Commentaries

"when it is you of regal birth" and "a prince like you"

Mark Twain and many others believed that the true author of the Shakesperian plays and poems was Sir Francis Bacon. Furthermore, many of Bacon's contemporaries and many other people during the centuries thereafter believed that Bacon was a son of Queen Elizabeth I although this was never publicly acknowledged by the queen.

"or else your friend, a truer saint than I."

This passage refers to that other great lord chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More. Although Bacon and More were not contemporaneous, the two are close friends. But that's another story, and long.

"gaudy spring" and "Golden Age"

Sir Francis Bacon, writing under his own name, referred to this as the "Great Instauration" -- a time of great progress in various fields after a long period of decay. For certain individuals and organizations, both the Shakespearian term ("gaudy spring") and the Baconian term ("Great Instauration") may be regarded as synonymous to "the great golden age of Aquarius".

"black-pot ribbing"

This refers to the English idiomatic expression "the pot calling the kettle black". Like the author of the reply, Bacon never begat a son.

"You too begat no son at any age!"

I am indebted to Marshall Haley concerning the thrust of this sonnet, especially line 14. (Needless to say, it would affect the overall thrust of my Replies.) Like Mark Twain and myself, he also believes that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of the Shakespearian plays and poems. So when we discussed one time the Shakesperian sonnets, particularly the tenor of the first 17 which are collectively dubbed as "procreation sonnets", he commented about the fact that Bacon himself begat no son. Most of my helpers are invisible; but this one is certainly quite visible although we never met personally in this life.

"you" & "I"

The octave used the words "you" and "I" as end-rhymes in what is known as "identical rhyme" (meaning, a word rhymes with itself). This is how the original Sicilian sonnet was written. I chose the word pair "you" and "I" to indicate that the Shakesperian sonnets and my replies are primarily a matter between Sir Francis Bacon and I.

"gold", "age" & "Golden Age"

I chose the words "gold" and "age" as the end-rhymes of the sestet to refer to the Golden Age, or what Sheakespeare's sonnet I refers to as "the gaudy spring" and what Sir Francis Bacon calls "the Great Instauration". This subject is of primary importance to both Bacon and myself. The Shakesperian author himself repeatedly used the words "gold" and "golden" in his 154 sonnets -- including Sonnets 3 ("Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time") and Sonnets 7 ("attending on his golden pilgrimage").

My reaction after crafting the first Reply

Yes! I did it! My first Reply : ) Actually, one of my 2000 sonnets answered Shakespeare's sonnet 9. But it is not my official reply, it was just a sort of dry run for answering the Shakespearian sonnets : )


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