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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 unear'd 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, remember'd not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.
The Nelsonic Reply:
The sun will shine on the dinosaur,
And again break into birds;
There’ll be one more vestal devil,
and one more literary whore.
As the furry helots of the Jurassic,
Became masters of the renaissance;
So will the future fish of the Pacific,
Nibble on “The Gates” of our picket fence.
So was my Mom Cleopatra and Caesar,
Also Caeserion under the knife;
So was she the brave new bard,
and on hospital bed gave death to life.
So was I Orpheus at the world’s end,
But never a father or a fertile pen.
In order to shed light on the composition of my sonnet, I’ll relate something of my recent life and my reflections on it. To start with, I recently helped a lesbian couple become pregnant. Around the time we received our assignment, they heard the child’s heart-beat for the first time. This got me thinking about reproduction and how I felt about it. There’s a part of me that would like to secure the same arrangement with many lesbian couples in order to spread my genetics. But another part of me reminds me that I don’t really fit into this society very well and despite the many wonders of my life, it’s been rather painful.
There’s another sort of reproduction that I think about: the reproduction of my literary work. While I don’t always believe in myself as a person, I always believe in the merit of my literary work. It has been my passion and my crucifixion since I wrote my first short story at the age of twelve. I’ve found a respectable readership on a number of sites online and I’ve had a handful of publications in literary journals. But it is greatly my desire that the best of my work should propagate and become part of the cultural foundation of the modern world. So it was with these thoughts on my mind and a glass of wine in my hand that I sat down to write: “The Nelsonic Reply to Sonnet #3.”
Now, for a breakdown of the lines. Lines one and two: “The sun will shine on the dinosaur/ and again break into birds.” Now, literally, this makes very little sense. It’s hard to imagine the sun breaking into birds, although one can at least imagine it breaking into words. But the meaning of the lines is to suggest that there’s a cycle to evolution and that the dinosaurs will again exist and again devolve into birds.
Lines 3 and 4: “There’ll be one more vestal devil/ and one more literary whore.” The term “vestal devil” uses the vestal virgins of Ancient Greece as a symbol for that which society considers to be holy but sometimes is not. “Literary whore” hearkens back to Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2, Line 571. It is also a reflection of my feelings about literature, namely that it is a powerful force than can corrupt just as it can exalt and that the author has a moral responsibility to weigh the impact of his work, a duty that I have sometimes neglected.
The “furry helots” of line 5 refers to the small mammals of the dinosaur days. “The Gates” is a reference to the family of Bill Gates, whose father was also a billionaire. The allusion wasn’t, however, motivated out of any particular malice toward The Gates family but rather meant to show that the great powers of one age are the birds of the next.
Lines 9 and 10 require some explanation: “So was my Mom Cleopatra and Caesar/
Also Caeserion under the knife;” Directly these lines are a reference to the relationship of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and their son Caesarion. “Caesarion” is a play on the C-section, which is how I was born.
Lines 11 and 12: “So was she the brave new bard, and on hospital bed gave death to life.” My saying that my mother was various people of the past is a way of saying that she’s an admirable person and thus tied to the great force: God, Brahma, what have you. I suppose one could also interpret it as referring to re-incarnation.
Lines 13 and 14: “So was I Orpheus at the world’s end,/ But never a father or a fertile pen..” You know, the best thing about me is that I’m very humble. Basically, in line 13 I’m claiming to be a great poet, one of the incarnations of Orpheus and as far as “at the world’s end,” I couldn’t explain why I wrote that. You see, I write in a sort of trance-like state. And when I say “a fertile pen,” I suppose what I mean is that I haven’t been much a literary success. I haven’t had a single book published, although one may come out soon. As far as my never being a father, well, define “father.”