Numerical values of Alphabet

B. TWO PARALLEL PHRASES AND DARK LADY'S ACROSTIC

Structural and Numeric Relevance

I. Two Parallel Phrases

II. Meaning of Structure

III. Numeric Aspects

IV. Gematria

V. First and Last Letters of Lines (I)

C. Gematric Values of Whole Sonnet

This part continues the analysis of Sonnet 136, dealing with Contents, Structure and Gematric Relevance. The two parallel phrases to be first discussed are

(l.4) LOUE-SUTE, SWEET

(l.12 SOME-THING SWEET

I. Contents of the Two Phrases

1.      The poet is aware of an obvious inconsistency in his lady's behaviour. On the one hand she enjoys other lovers beside him (l.6), on the other hand she complaints of his too stormy love desire (l.1). The fact that she has more lovers at the same time suggests that she is more interested in sexual enjoyment than in true personal relationship. With regard to the poet, however, she seems to demand a higher standard of morality. Perhaps she wants to appear more moral than she really is.

2.      The poet tries to overcome the problem in the first part of the poem, but feels that he is not able to bring about a personal love relation of mind and body, as his lady is too far away from this ideal or has no confidence in it. So he must try a new way of convincing her in the second part of his sonnet. He wants to achieve an inversion of relationship: He no longer strives to come near to her, but tries to make her come near to him. He wants to give her new confidence that sexual love is identical with personal love.

3.      The personal nature of love is contained in the first phrase:

Thus farre for loue my loue-sute, sweet, fulfill

The poet calls his desire of a personal relationship love and expresses it by addressing his lady as sweet, which is a name of love.

The second phrase refers to the poet's physical organ that he claims to perform personal love as a union of soul and body.

Hold/ that nothing me, a some-thing sweet to thee

The poet suggests that the sweet sensations that the physical act gives to his lady are due to the feelings of his own heart towards her. Thus the sense of the second phrase is semantically associated with the first.

II. Meaning of Structure

1.      Good poetry shows three characteristics:

          Each word is related to all the others.

          No structural element is accidental.

          Structural elements are linked together to a high extent of condensation.

2.      Numeric structure refers both to Contents and Form:

Contents is based on a succession, i.e. a certain number of logically connected thoughts and expressed in syntactical units. So there is a Beginning, an End and a Between both of Contents. The successive units are countable.

Form can refer to Prose or Poetry. Form of Prose is mainly connected with numeric organisation of contents. Poetry depends on Verse, i.e. metric schemes and number of lines. Therefore the number of thoughts depends on the poetic Verse Form, which also determines Beginning, Middle, and End of single Lines and Units of Lines.

3.      Any Number as a whole can be subdivided into Numeric Units. As Number refers both to Syntactical Units and Verse Form, there is a certain interrelation between these two principles.

4.      Verse Form is filled with Words. Each word occupies a Structural Position within a given Verse Form. A single structural position can have a number of Relations to other positions.

Related Positions can be occupied with Related Words.

5.      Words consist of Letters. So especially Beginning and End can refer to the respective letters of a single Word or a Line. First and Last letters also have Structural Meaning.

III. Numeric Aspects

1.      There is no doubt that any good poet knows the great importance of Structural Organisation of what he wants to say in a poem and proceeds accordingly. But this does not necessarily mean that he counts words and letters.

2.      Once a poet embarks on Counting, however, he needs some Model of Reference to provide him with Meanings of Numbers. Here lies a crucial problem and obstacle. How can the analyzer of a poem know about it? A poet will hardly invent a complete system of his own but follow certain conventions of his time. So reliable information about numerological conventions of a time must be obtained, if possible.

3.      Provided a poet has a comprehensive knowledge of the meanings of numbers, he can shape and determine everything countable in his poem according to it.

A poem offers many ways of counting. Let us concentrate on those that are most related to the term Numerology. There is a progression from larger to smaller units, from Words to Letters. Letters, finally, can have Numeric Values according to a certain scheme. The most common and simple way is to give each letter the number that it occupies in the order of the alphabet. Counting numeric values of letters is called Gematria.

4.      There is a last important question that leads us to Shakespeare. If a poet deals with counting, does he do so totally or perhaps partially. As soon as starts counting words, he may feel obliged to count letters as well, and if he has figured out the numeric value of one word, he might feel urged to do so with all words.

Principally a poet is free to decide how many Structural Elements he wants to make use of. Counting words, letters and numeric values belong to structure as well, but they are rather optional. So I am inclined to think that Shakespeare employed gematric counting in particular only partially.

As to Gematria I'm confining myself to Sonnet 136 only, but would gladly encourage further studies in this field, especially regarding Shakespeare's numerological frame of reference.

IV. Gematria (1)

1.      We may assume that at the centre of Shakespeare's gematric interest is his and his lady's name. As I have pointed out in the first part of my study, Shakespeare plays on four names: WILLIAM, its short form WILL and the varying spellings of EMILIA and AEMILIA.

A first illustration of Numeric Relevance might be the 63rd and central word of the poem in line 7, WE, consisting of the initials of WILLIAM and EMILIA. Its numeric value is 21+5 = 26 = 2*13, the last word WILL has the value 52 = 4*13, together 78. If you add 15, the value of the first word IF, you get 93 = 3*31. So Shakespeare has contrived another example of inversion: the numbers 13 and 31.

The initials WE show connection to the sonnet form if their gematric values are multiplied: 21*5 = 105, corresponding to the sum of the numbers 1-14. The two letters get special meaning from LOVE again if the ratio of the gematric value 50 and the value of the two number letters LV = 55 is performed: it's 5*(10+11) = 5*21.

2.      So far I haven't included the name SHAKESPEARE into my calculation, because there are different spellings, though today's spelling was the most frequent also at his lifetime. Counting the letters of AEMILIA and EMILIA, the result is 13, the letters of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE amount to 18, totalling 31.

Number 13 is also contained in the numeric value (NV) of the poet's initials WS = 21+18 = 39 = 3*13. With change of position SW are the first two letters of SWEET.

The still lacking 4 letters of WILL add up 31+4 letters to 35, which is one third of 105, the sum of the 14 sonnet lines. The multiplication 4*31 is 124, which can refer to lines 12 and 4 with the two phrases. In fact, if the two hyphenated words loue-sute and some-thing are counted as one word each, the total of words is 124.

Following the ascending number of lines, one gets the three-digit number 412, which divided by 4 leaves 103, which is the NV of SHAKESPEARE.

If, however, the hyphens are considered to mark two separate words, the total number of words is 126, which is the combined NV of WILLIAM (74) and WILL (52). 126 is 6*21 or 7*18, the NV of the poet's initials WS.

3.      The following table shows how the 5 names, whose average number of letters is 7, are woven together:

 

NV

 

NV

LET

WILLIAM

74

AEMILIA

48

14

WILL

52

EMILIA

47

 

 

 

SHAKESPEARE

103

21

 

126

 

198

 

 

7*18

 

11*18

35

 

(7+11)*18 = 18*18 = SS

 

18 is the numeric value of S, the square result of the 5 names 18*18 can be related to the two root words of SHAKE-SPEARE's name. The factors 7 and 11 correspond to the letters of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. The number of letters can be grouped in 2+3 names with letters multiplied by 7 each.

4.      Number 31 is also contained in the numeric value of the two phrases:

loue-sute 50+62 = 112 (16*7)

some-thing 49+56 = 105 (15*7)

217=31*7

V. Gematria (2): First and Last Letters of Lines

1.      To give a string of Initials secret meaning has always captured the imagination of authors. Investigating into the initial and final letters of Sonnet 136, I was quickly successful. The problem is to have the right idea of what kind of acrostic device might be found.

A first minor clue refers to the poet's and his lady's initials already discovered in the word WE as the central word of the poem. Line 5 starts with WILL and ends with LOUE.

2.      The gematric result of the 28 letters is 255 = 17*15. This gives rise to the assumption that the numbers of lines have to be included into the calculation, as successive addition of 1-14 totals 7*15. The result (7+17)*15 = 360 suggests the sonnet being comparable to a circle of 360 degrees.

The numbers 24 and 15 can be related to the sum of letters of the poetic couple: WILL EMILIA WILLIAM AEMILIA (24), WILL SHAKESPEARE (15). Besides, the gematric sum of EMILIA + SHAKESPEARE is 150. The 17 letters of the two names may have been a motive for Shakespeare to form the product 15*17 = 255.

3.      Previous examination has already shown that Shakespeare divides the sonnet into two parts of 7 lines. If one line is alternately put in the first and the next in the second group, the rhymed pairs of lines of the three quartets are kept together in their respective group, one line of the final couplet is put in the first, the other line in the second group:

LINE

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

49

56

105

initial

I

S

A

T

W

I

I

A

T

T

F

T

M

A

77

86

163

final

E

L

E

L

E

E

E

E

D

E

D

E

L

L

39

53

92

in+fin

14

29

6

30

26

14

14

6

23

24

10

24

23

12

165

195

360

 

7*15=105

10*15=150

 

 

+LINES

105+15 = 120

150+90 = 240

 

 

The two sums 165 and 195 are divisible by 15, their ratio is 11:13. 49 and 56 are also the gematric values of SOME-THING.

4.      Proportion also becomes evident if the pairs of letters are grouped symmetrically:

LINE

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

 

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

 

sum

14

29

6

30

26

14

14

133

sum

12

23

24

10

24

23

6

122

 

26

52

30

40

50

37

20

255

 

78

120

57

 

The ratio of the first two pairs is 26:52 = 1:2, corresponding to the numerical values of the initials WE and WILL. The three central pairs have exactly symmetrical results. 8:6 lines have the ratio 135:120 = 15*(9:8). If you add 15 for each pair, the ratio is again 195:165 = 15*(13:11).

5.      We may assume that Shakespeare, for the praise of (A)EMILIA, chose a number of lines with first and last letters fitting the letters of her name. Half of the sonnet's lines, perhaps according to the 7 letters of AEMILIA, apply:

LINE

1

3

6

7

8

13

14

31

21

52

initial

I

A

I

I

A

M

A

23

19

42

final

E

E

E

E

E

L

L

32

15

47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

86

55

141

Again there is a symmetrical structure with a centre of three lines and two border lines on each side. The sums 42 and 47 obviously represent the words MILIA and EMILIA, whereas the sum of line numbers refers to the gematric value of WILL.

The total result 141, divided by 3, refers to EMILIA's value 47 again.

The subdivided sums can be assigned to letters of the words they represent:

31

ILL

21

W

23

ML

19

IIA

32

MLI

15

EIA

The Roman number letters in the left and right columns amount to 2202+3 = 2205 which can be divided into the factors 5*21*21, which in added form result in EMILIA's gematric value 47. The 3 factors may be regarded as initials of EMILIA+WILLIAM+WILL.

6.      Finally the gematric values of all the initial and last letters contained in AEMILIA can be added:

 

A

E

M

I

L

 

 

frequ.

3

-

1

3

-

 

7

value init.

3

-

12

27

-

42

 

frequ.

-

8

-

-

4

 

12

value final

 

40

 

 

44

84

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

126

19

The gematric values of the initial and final letters 42 and 84 have the ratio 1:2 again. 42 is the gematric value of MILIA, the total 126 of WILL (52)+WILLIAM (74).

There may be a curiosity. EMILIA was married to LANIER (56), or in other spelling, LANYER (70). The added gematric values also total 126.

 

Written: December 2008

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