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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Poems                       383


" ' Cleanse Łou me from my secret sins.' I heard a man
moralising on this and shocked him by saying demurely that I
did not mind these so much, if I could get rid of those that were
obvious to other people."

He w/ote the sonnet in igoo or 1901. In the first quatrain
" spoken " does not rhyme with " open " ; Butler knew this and
would not alter it because there are similar assonances in Shake-
speare, e.g. " open " and " broken " in Sonnet LXL

xiii. Karma

I am responsible for grouping these three sonnets under this
heading. The second one beginning (< What is't to live"
appears in Butler's Note-Book with the remark, " This wants
much tinkering, but I cannot tinker it"—meaning that he was
too much occupied with oilier things. He left the second line
of the third of these sonnets thus:

11 Them palpable to touch and view."

I  have "tinkered" it by adding the two syllables "clear to9'
to make the line complete.

In writing this sonnet Butler was no doubt thinking of a note
lie made in 1891:

II  It is often said that there is no bore like a clever bore.   Clever
people are always bores and always must be.   That is, perhaps,
why Shakespeare had to leave London—people could not stand
him any longer "

xiv. The Life after Death

Butler began to write sonnets in 1898 when he was studying
those of Shakespeare on which he published a book in the follow-
ing year. (Shakespeare's Sonnets Reconsidered, &c.) He had
gone to Flushing by himself and on his return wrote to me :

24 Aug. 1898. "Also at Flushing I wrote one myself, a poor
innocent thing, but I was surprised to find how easily it came ;
if you like it / may write a few more."

The " poor innocent thing " was the sonnet beginning " Not
on sad Stygian shore," the -first of those I have grouped under
the heading " The Life after Death." It appears in his note-
books with this introductory sentence:

" Having now learned Shakespeare's Sonnets by heart—and