(GJ) Cantos XLVIII-XLIX (p.16. ll. 24-27, 31).

Her arms: a casque, gules, and blunt spear on a field, sable. 

The tale is told, although neither that subject nor verb is accurate of what we witnessed. There has been no narrative; the sharing has been secretive.

It is unlikely that the Poppers or other contenders for the role of “Dark Who” would be emblazoned with a coat of arms by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although the Rothchild branch in Vienna was decorated despite Jewish roots. Here Joyce awards the lady with a coat of arms, but perhaps not her own. A dark table (sable) displays her adorned hat (casque) and umbrella (a blunt spear) placed diagonally (gules). The display is more than suggestive of the coat of arms first requested in 1596 of England’s Garter King of Arms for the sum of thirty guineas. The requesting family was Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Coat of Arms

Throughout Giacomo Joyce, the author associated himself with The Bard. When discussing Cantos XLVI and XLVII, we saw the similarities between Hamlet and Giacomo, including some of those noted by Mick Greer. There are many more. For example, there are also the dedications shared by Shakespeare’s sonnets to the anonymous “Dark Lady” and Joyce’s composition for the “Dark Who.” These disenchanted married men both conducted illicit underground courtships.

Annie Schliemer claims a marriage proposal from Joyce. Would he share his double’s (Shakespeare’s) heraldry with her if she accepted? He copies Shakespeare’s emblem on the table by arranging the WHO’s possessions. Some believe the arrangement is to mark HER with Hester Prynne’s “A.” I see no actual adultery or unlawful birth here. I don’t see an “A” either.  

John Shakespeare, the poet’s father, had his application for arms denied on the first submission. Later, the Garter reversed its decision based on the family’s service to Henry VII and John’s marriage to Arden’s heiress (politicworm.com). That is, he married above his station, like William’s aspirational love for the “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” (some candidates being affluent) and James for the “Dark Who” (all three named candidates being quite wealthy).

When permitted, the motto was changed to clarify the meaning. The original legend included a comma and would be translated: “No, not deserved.” Removing the comma allowed for the translation: “Not without right.” The irony is at least amusing, where knights pursue illicit loves, honor is undeserved. Ben Jonson poked at the motto penning a character whose coat of arms proclaimed: “Not without Mustard” (Morris, The Shakespearian Blog). 

HER blunt-tipped spear, the umbrella, is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. With it, she fended off the assault against her honor and delivered the poisoned thrust that left Joyce destroyed like Prince Hamlet. While the annihilation of the characters of Hamlet settles all scores, it also allows the Prince redemption after murders, betrayals, acts against family, the State, and love. If Joyce suffers a symbolic death through his rejection by the “Dark Who,” he is saved through his return to Nora. 

But the lady makes the coat of arms her own. Shakespeare’s colors are also hers, the yellow of the train voyage through the ricefield and the black of the basilisk’s poison eye. The images, flowered hat, virginal umbrella, and sable gules recalling odoriferous fur replace the seducer’s mark. She has carried the day. “Envoy: Love me, love my umbrella.”

don ward October 29, 2020

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