Sonnets, Ellipses and Harmony

On this day in 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published, all 154 of them, by a certain Thomas Young, perhaps illegaly; but, they were more chill with copyright back then. A fitting one on this fine day – at least where I write – is the 18th, ‘Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?’, even though it still be spring, as we have not passed the summer solstice, as these things are measured.

And on that note of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun, 1609 was also the year that Johanne Kepler published his first two laws of planetary motion, in his ‘Harmonices Mundi’, – the ‘harmonies of the world’. Kepler had each of the planets not only move on ellipses around the Sun – very controversial in his day – bu also placed on a metaphorical musical scale, with, if memory serves, Earth a baritone, Venus in the soprano range, and Jupiter, of course, a basso profundo. The planets actually do ‘sing’, emitting frequencies far off any of our measurable instruments.

Poetic cadence and planetary harmonies – there is beauty to be found, so long as men can breathe, and eyes can see.