Wyndham Lewis’s Shakespearean Sonnetlike Composition

 

In his autobiographical work Rude Assignment: A narrative of my career up-to-date, Wyndham Lewis tells us that as a student he wrote Shakespearean sonnets:

 

“About the time I went to the Slade I began to write Petrarchan sonnets, but soon changed to Shakespearean. They were easier to do. Some were so like Shakespeare’s that as I recall lines from them I am never quite certain whether they are Shakespeare’s or mine. It remains for me a mystery how so dumb a youth as I was can have produced them.” (p. 115)

 

He goes on to produce one “sonnetlike composition of that period” (which is impressive, but it is reasonable to ask for more evidence):

 

Doubt is the sole tonic that sustains the mind,

The keynote of this universe entire.

Self-conscious certainty is Doubt, and blind

God-worship but Doubt’s sanctified attire.

God fashioned us in Doubt: for Eden-trees

Were planted in God’s initial Doubt:

... hope doth but tease

Us into ... where certainty could not.

 

ß