Sunday, April 23, 2017

SONNET 5 FRAME: Those hours, that with gentle work did frame



Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there,
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'ersnowed and bareness every where.
Then were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid pris'ner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
   But flow'rs distilled, though they with winter meet,
   Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.



SONNET INDEX


This sonnet and the following are a pair and it's easier to think of them as one extended sonnet theme.


Mnemonic Image: Death, the FRAME of Bone

Memory Passage: Beauty's ROSE in a World War I TRENCH is reflected in a GLASS also showing the face of the EXECUTOR, Death, who admires the FRAME of Bone which holds the mirror


Idiosyncratic Abstract: The FRAME of Bone which holds the MIRROR wherein Narcissus sees his own face as Death. At the top of the FRAME, inset into the polished bone is a crystal vial filled with the the Young Man's semen.


Couplet Imagery: A glass vial of the essential substance of the Young Man and the tyrant figure of Old Man Winter.


A glass vial containing the essential substance, oil, fragrance, of the flower which has died. Prurient images of the vial containing semen, referenced in Sonnet 6, and of the woman's uterus as the vial wherein the Young Man's sperm is "distilled" into a child.


 But flow'rs distilled, though they with winter meet,
   Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.


The distillation of a flower is its fragrance. And while the flower itself withers, fades and dies as its season passes, the distilled fragrance, the substance, can be captured and kept within the walls of glass.


The process, not remarked upon by Shakespeare, is enfleurage. And because this metaphor is abundant in the the sonnets, explicit and implicit, it is worthwhile to get a sense of it for mnemonic reference. Keep in mind Beauty's Rose as an emblem for the Young Man. There is apt resonance between the process of distilling the fragrance of the flower and capturing the essence of the Young Man.


http://journal.illuminatedperfume.com/2012/03/jasmine-enfleurage.html


Many flowers are too fragile to sustain steam distillation. This includes many of my favorites: wisteria, lilac, lily of the valley, gardenia, jasmine, honeysuckle. The method used to capture the scent of these flowers is called enfleurage, a term much too pretty for the method itself.

In its most developed form, as practiced in Grasse, the perfume center of France, during the nineteenth century, fresh flower petals are placed on panes of glass which are smeared with purified fat. The fat absorbs the odors of the flowers, which are replenished when they are spent, until the fat is thoroughly imbued with fragrance. Then the scented fat, which is called a pomade, is washed with alcohol which absorbs the scent. The leftover scented fat was often used to make soap. The scented alcohol is called an absolute. If the alcohol is allowed to evaporate, what is left is an essential oil.

http://www.livinginseason.com/naturalworld/perfume-and-flowers/



http://journal.illuminatedperfume.com/2012/03/jasmine-enfleurage.html


Many of the industry’s most delicate and expensive flowers cannot be treated in this manner. It is a process reserved for twigs woods leaves and other hardier parts of plant life. A few flowers are exceptions: the rose orange blossom and ylang ylang are steam-distilled.  However most  flower oils are too easily  altered  under high temperature to withstand such drastic treatment and their great values justify more expensive operating methods.

One of these more expensive methods is known as "enfleurage." It is a process that has undergone little change in the past few centuries and its method of operation is out of keeping with the picture of modem civilization and the tempo of present-day life. 

Even the language of enfleurage is untranslatable into our tongue so linked is the process with the French producers. It has been described in English as “cold extraction with fat” and translated by some as “inflorescence,” a term that has not been assimilated into our language.

It is an amazing thing about the enfleurage process that more oil is obtained from a flower than was present  in  the  flower.  In  1897, Jacques  Passy,  noting this phenomenon offered an explanation. These flowers, he wrote, "do not contain their perfume all formed or contain only an insignificant quantity of it the flower produces it and exhales it in a continuous fashion." Enfleurage is possible, the author continued, because this process respects the life of the flower.”

After the flowers are picked in the fields they are brought to the nearby factories, where within a few hours they are placed by hand on layers of fats made up primarily of a highly refined lard. These fats are laid out on both sides of a framed glass known as the chassis (pronounced shahsee) where the petals remain for about twenty-four hours. The fats are known as the corps (pronounced core). During this period the flowers continue to manufacture and exhale their perfume and the absorbent fats capture and hold the oils. The chassis are placed on top of one another so that the perfume cannot escape and be lost in the air.



https://annadannfelt.com/tag/enfleurage/


After a day the chassis is shaken so that the petals fall off and those that do not come off easily are picked by hand and on the over side a new group of petals is placed.

What a painstaking process for these days of mass production and laborsaving devices! Each petal to be placed on the fat by hand and many taken off by hand with special care that it is in sufficient contact with the corps to permit ready absorption and sufficiently loose to be taken off without having more than a negligible amount of the fats cling to it.

The same corps is used over and over again for several weeks, and when it is saturated with the perfume oil it is removed. It is heated up slightly melted and then frozen into a uniform semisolid body a waxy substance called a “pomade.”

Once these pomades were used directly in perfumery. They had a slight scent of fats, which was more than overcome by the powerful concentration of the fragrant perfume. But latter-day perfumery found these pomades difficult to handle and preferred to make an extraction with alcohol. The alcohol is agitated in the pomade and the perfume dissolved in the alcohol finally passing completely from the fats.

From these alcoholic washings there is obtained the “lavage de pomade,” or pomade washings, which are alcoholic solutions of the flower oil obtained by enfleurage. It is not difficult to remove the alcohol and leave a pure flower oil. This is accomplished by a process known a “vacuum distillation,” generally referred to by its Latin term, “distillation in vacuo.”

The principle of vacuum distillation is not unlike that of steam distillation, but the method of arriving at the same end differs. When the atmospheric pressure is reduced by the creation of a partial vacuum, it requires only moderate heat to overcome the small partial pressure remaining inside the still. When the amount of pressure approaches zero, but never reaches it, we have what is almost a complete vacuum and many substances evaporate at very low temperatures. Thus, vacuum distillation avoids heating an oil up to a temperature that would be deleterious to its quality.

By vacuum distillation the alcohol is removed and the oil remains. This oil is called the "absolute of enfleurage,” or the “absolute of pomade,” although the term “absolute,” by itself when applied to flower oils is generally not used in reference to the enfleurage process.

Enfleurage is today in use primarily for two flowers, jasmin and tuberose, and for it only the most perfect flowers are employed. If the flower has been left standing too long or if it has been bruised in the picking it may undergo a putrefying process while on the chassis and adversely affect the odor of the oils.

The petals that have been picked and already used for enfleurage are not thrown away. They still have some perfume oils which had not been absorbed by the lard and they also contain waxy material of definite perfume value. These partially exhausted flowers are subjected to extraction with volatile solvents a process which we shall describe presently and the oils obtained are known by the name of "chassis" if the flower is jasmin this oil is called “jasmin chassis.”

The enfleurage process is delicate. It is associated with carefully guarded secrets and techniques belonging to each house. The absolute of enfleurage of one particular brand has a special character of its own and in order to guard that typical note the big producers grow their own flowers on plantations owned by the factories. From the fertilization to the harvesting, they can control every stage of the production of the flower and the oil.



The absolute of enfleurage strongly resembles the odor of the living flower but is not an exact duplication of it. By some perfumers it is treasured as the ne plus ultra of the essential-oil industry. Rooted as it is in tradition, with methods originating centuries back, with its secrets passed down by word of mouth and kept within a family, with little literature and less research this process gives font an oil that wins the admiration of users the world over. [emphasis mine]

- The Science and Art of Perfumery By Edward Sagarin


Vintage Perfume Bottle


So where are we? Using the couplet as the Image Key, we have,

 But flow'rs distilled, though they with winter meet,
   Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.


We have unpacked flowers distilled. Now they meet with Winter.  A manifestation of time, Old Man Winter and Old Man Time are hand in hand. Both are tyrants, cruel rulers who subject all to their power.

But even though the Young Man will be meet with the tyrant Winter, his substance can endure. if Beauty's Rose is distilled into a fragrance which can be transferred to another container.

Time Smoking a Picture, Hogarth
http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/time/art/time-time-smoking-picture

Father Time



Now, on to the first Quatrain.

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell

From the first two words, those hours, Time is immediately present. The image of Father Time as a painter painting or a sculptor in flesh shaping, framing the Beauty of the Young Man's face. The Face of Beauty where every eye desires to make as its home, to linger there, dwell within.

Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;

Now enter the Tyrant, the cruel ruler who subjects all to his power. And that Tyrant is Time here making his first entrance onto the stage of the sonnets. Those hours Father Time spent in sculpting the beautiful face, he will now continue to carve and line, relentless in his inhuman artistry, defacing the face of the Young Man. These themes will sound again and again throughout the sonnets. It's vital to get a strong visual image of this Figure of the Tyrant Father Time who stands hand in hand with his twin brother, Death.

For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there,

Father Time as relentless, always stepping onwards, each step an instant, a second, moment. Time never stops. And this image of Time leading Summer, as a Father would lead a child, into hideous winter. What hideous? Etymological seeds of disgust, the repulsive, the horror, along with tones of fear and dread. Monstrous in what it reveals, demonstrates. How Father Time will ruin and make us all hideous. But also here: confounded. Following Kerrigan, a toppling together, destructive confusion. I see the Young Man being led forth by Time, pulled along out of summer into this hideous reality of winter, pulled along at an ever increasing pace, running, until he tumbles and falls into a heap, an old man incapable of keeping up, collapsing upon the way. Suddenly, without any warning it seems, he is a heap of bones and old weak flesh, shaking and shivering, confounded upon the path. Time not letting go, dragging his collapsed frame through the dust, ever onward into annihilation.

Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'ersnowed and bareness every where.

In a jump cut metaphor shift, now the Young Man in Summer / Old Man in Winter finds analogue in the tree, his blood / semen is sap, cold now and unflowing, his lusty leaves, green and unfurled, his full head of hair, his proud erect full and leafy branches now bare, quite gone, and, what is one of the most beautiful lines in the sonnets:

Beauty o'ersnowed and bareness every where.

Snow as a soft blanket of insidious forgetfulness, falling softly, faintly falling. I cannot help but hear Joyce in that last passage from The Dead:

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

Beauty oversnowed. Bareness everywhere. There is also something of the lines from Longfellow's Dante, Paradiso 33:

Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed, 
Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves 
Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost.

So Q1 sets up the Face of Beauty which Father Time shaped and will tyrannically deface. And Q2 has Father Time leading (beguiling) the vibrant summer green leafy lusty sap oozing phallic tree of the Young Man into a hideous winter where he becomes a befuddled confounded bald impotent barren bare snow covered Old Repulsive Creature.

Q3 comes offers salvation,

Then were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid pris'ner pent in walls of glass,

Distillation. A refinement. The process by which the very essence of a thing is captured and made independent from it's existence. Summer's distillation, the lusty sap oozing over every labial leaf, is collected like a bee harvesting nectar to be distilled and then captured in in a glass container. Note the subtle critical tone in prisoner. As if Shakespeare already has in mind a more appropriate use for the distillation of the Young Man's beauty. Perhaps instead of squirting it into an uneared womb, it might find a more enduring aesthetic birth in a more lasting creation, the Word. Later sonnets will amplify this nascent theme.

Also, via Kerrigan et al. the influence of the passage from Sydney's Arcadia is instructive for refining mnemonic imagery:

Have you ever seen a pure rose-water kept in a crystal glass ? How fine it looks, how sweet it smells while that beautiful glass imprisons it ? Break the prison ; and let the water take its own course, doth it not embrace dust, and lose all its former sweetness and fairness ? Truly so are we, if we have not the stay, rather than the restraint of crystalline marriage. 

The final two lines of Q3 need some unpacking,

Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:

Summer's distillation, the Rose essence of the Young Man's beauty, is captured and confined (note echo with the tumbled heap of confound above) in an elegant container, walls glassine, crystalline, uterine. But if this distillation of essence, seed, semen, is NOT captured by such walls, then Beauty's effect, the distillation, is lost, removed, taken away (Booth). If such as loss occurs, no one will remember what the Beauty once was. Think of how difficult it is to remember the smell, fragrance of someone you love who died. But then you open a trunk full of their old clothes and this unique and instantly identifiable essence of them rises up like a perfect ghost. If you could only bottle that, how happy would you be?

When I was younger, I lost my dog, Mookie. He used to sleep on this one afghan style blanket. It was soaked with his scent. I would lay in my room with my head buried in Mookie's blanket, crying in grief. Finally, my mother couldn't stand it anymore. When I was gone, she took the blanket and washed it. At first, I would not forgive her. But sure enough, it broke the spell of grief.

Not long ago, my mother died. I found a red coat she used to wear and it was just the same as that blanket, redolent of her. Wearing it, inhaling her essence, was heartbreaking and immensely comforting. I still have the coat but the distillation of her that imbued it has faded to the faintest of hints, a teasing of the memory at times. How I wish I had that distillation, that particular perfume that was her being. But what profound suffering and unrelenting ache of being would fill my heart and soul every time I opened that bottle? Eliot was right:

And the lotus rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

It's a common observation Sonnet 5 is best understood as half of a developed theme. It's as if Shakespeare was thinking about Sydney's fine Arcadia image of the rose-water in the crystal glass, tying it back to Beauty's Rose, about developing the breeding / procreation argument. This Tyrant Time starts off, the seasonal metaphor of Summer and Winter, the stark image of oversnowed Beauty and bareness everywhere. What can lead us out of this Waste Land? Ah, Sydney! The essence of the Rose is distilled into a crystal prison, whereby it might be liberated from the transient existence, freed from Time and seasons and being oversnowed. But it is problematic on it's own. I imagine the Young Man reading this and wondering what he is supposed to do? How is he to distill himself? The notion of being confined to a crystal prison is not encouraging. How can he rescue Beauty's Effect? How he be remembered?

Sonnet 6 offers solutions.

Vendler points out 5 as being a rare impersonal sonnet, similar to the scathing 129. Perhaps. I am inclined to simply view it as the working through of a more generalized theme, setting up the extremely personal pronouns in Sonnet 6: put your semen into a womb!  The Young Man would have undoubtedly understood the personal gist. I will allow that since Shakespeare's art encloses my slight understanding in its vast circumference, I am always fated to inductive surmises. Clearly, whenever he employs the distancing language of economics or imports legal terminology, you get a sense he is protecting himself or, rather obscuring, his intention. The prisoner reference, imported from Sydney, especially in light of the later sonnets, carries with it a certain agenda. Is Shakespeare so transparent as to move into the impersonal, abstaining from all pronouns, when he senses his feelings for the Young Man are growing stronger? I doubt it. Nevertheless, these are all helpful mnemonic textures to place the sonnet in deeper waters.


SONNET INDEX


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