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The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love’s breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love’s veins thou hast too grossly dy’d.
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol’n thy hair;
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both,
And to his robbery had annexed thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
     More flowers I noted, yet I none could see,
     But sweet, or colour it had stol’n from thee.

 

Analysis

Sonnet 99 accuses nature of thieving the beloved’s beauty.

Will criticized the violet, telling it that it had stolen its sweet smell from the youth’s breath, and its purple color from my his veins. He told the lily it had stolen its whiteness from the youth’s hands, and then told marjoram it had stolen his rusty hair; a third flower which was neither color had stolen from both! The red and white roses postured shame and despair at Will’s accusations. In fact, all flowers had stolen something from Will’s beloved youth.

 

Will’s Wordplay

This sonnet has 15 lines, and is the only poem in the sequence which has more than fourteen (126 has 12). Sonnet structure was not fixed during the period, and Sidney Lee adduces many examples of fifteen line sonnets. An extra line is particularly common in linked sonnets, and this sonnet is linked to 98; Malone ended 98 with a colon to demonstrate the connection. However, other scholars have remarked on the clumsiness of the first line and suggested that the quarto text represents an unrevised draft that found its way into print. [1]

 

Scholar’s Corner

The sonnet has attracted some attention as one of those that appears to provide clues about the historical identity of Shakespeare’s subject (on the traditional assumption that the poems are in some sense autobiographical). In 1904, C. C. Stopes noted the existence of a portrait of Southampton at Welbeck Abbey in which his hair curls in a manner similar to young marjoram. This analysis has been disputed by scholars who assert that smell, rather than appearance, is the primary referent of Shakespeare’s line. Because of the extravagant praise of the beloved’s body, some Victorian scholars were reluctant to believe that the poem was addressed to a man; current consensus, however, groups it with the other poems written to the young man. [2]

 

The Packard Plant – Detroit, MI

The Packard Plant was built in 1903. The massive, 350,000 square foot factory was the most modern car production plants ever created at the time. It housed the entirety of the Packard Car Company (later the Studebaker-Packard Company) and was a shining jewel in Detroit’s East Side. Detroit, at that time and through the the 1960s, was a hub of automobile production. Creating a self-sustaining economy that rippled throughout the United States, the Packard Plant was a large part of the city’s success. The plant closed in 1958 for production and all uses of the plant ended in the mid 1990s. Urban decay, crime, and widespread vandalism became the only uses of the once-magnificent center of industry. The homeless, the disaffected and the desperate became the only tenants. The plant fell into disrepair and largely serves as a place to wait out the rain while buying drugs or a relatively dry place to sleep in the summer and what is left of the structure helps block the winter winds. There is still something majestic about the Packard Plant. What it stood for and for how long it stood is a testament to the history and former glory of Detroit. As it stands, though, it represents what Sonnet 99 displays so beautifully: color has been stolen, never to return.

 

ACTOR – Joshua Werner

Joshua Werner is an actor, author, illustrator and all-around creative mastermind infecting the world with his special brand of eccentricity. He resides in the Detroit area, where he spends endless hours at his desk working his hand until it breaks open and bleeds awesomeness out onto paper. His acting credits include feature films such as Schism, Mary’s Buttons and UFO: The Otis Files, as well as his recurring role on the web series Vampirism Bites and several YouTube comedy skits. His hobbies include spending long hours working and chasing every bit of inspiration until it turns into large projects forcing him to have to work even more. Oh, and also working.

 

DIRECTOR – David C. Hayes

David C. Hayes is an author, performer and filmmaker. His films, like A Man Called Nereus, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, Dark Places, The Frankenstein Syndrome, Vampeggedon, Machined, Reborn, Back Woods (and approximately 60 more) can be seen worldwide. He is the author of several novels, collections and graphic novels including The Midnight Creature Feature Picture Show, Cherub, Cannibal Fat Camp, Pegged, American Guignol, Scorn and Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Ed Wood, Jr. As a playwright, David’s full-length and one-act plays have been produced from coast to coast with a run Off-Broadway for the comedy Swamp Ho and sell-out performances in Phoenix for Dial P for Peanuts. He is a voting member of The Horror Writers Association.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR – Tyler DePerro

Tyler DePerro (Cinematographer/Editor) is an artist, filmmaker & visual connoisseur from Toledo, Ohio. His short films have been featured in the Cine Youth Film Festival, 48 Hour Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival, Filmmakers’ Showcase and Camera Jam 2016. He has worked on numerous short and feature films. Most recently he designed Elsie Binx’s whimsical album art for Smile and A Bullet and he was asked to write a script ‘Comfort Food’ for Vega Entertainment. A notable award he received is the gold award from the International Festival & Events Association for his TV promotion of the St. Louis Art Fair. Currently, he owns and operates the Historic Howell Theater, an independent art house movie theater in Howell, Michigan. Some of Tyler’s favorite movies include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Paris Texas and Harold & Maude. He is currently working on an online comic called The Prick with David C. Hayes.