Will will fulfil

I was reminded today of just how goofy Shakespeare's 135th and 136th sonnets are, with their incessant pounding punning on the word "Will", as volition, as desire, as schlong (your willy), possibly as lady-bits, as auxiliary verb, and as Shakespeare himself. Many of the Wills were apparently italicized in the 1609 Quarto edition (and we all know about Italian Wills, knowwhatImean?).

Sonnet CXXXV.

WHOEVER hath her wish, thou hast thy Will
And Will to boot, and Will in over-plus;
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
  Let no unkind ‘No’ fair beseechers kill;
  Think all but one, and me in that one Will.

Sonnet CXXXVI.

IF thy soul check thee that I come so near
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there;
Thus far for love, my love-suit, sweet, fulfil.
Will will fulfil the treasure of thy love,
Ay, fill it full with wills, and my will one.
In things of great receipt with ease we prove
Among a number one is reckon’d none:
Then in the number let me pass untold,
Though in thy stores’ account I one must be;
For nothing hold me, so it please thee hold
That nothing me, a something sweet to thee:
  Make but my name thy love, and love that still,
  And then thou lov’st me,—for my name is Will.
I'm not saying "Will will fulfil the treasure of thy love / Ay, fill it with wills, and my will one" is a bad couple of lines -- but it is the sort of aggressive wordplay, the sort of relentless silliness, the sort of excessive disproportionality that usually gets supressed from the canon. I am glad Will willed his wills into his work, so they might willy-nilly get preserved, when surely hundreds of similar poems were relegated to the dustbins.

Exercise for the reader: Rewrite the sonnets as if his name were Richard Shakespeare.



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