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O! lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death,–dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove.
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O! lest your true love may seem false in this
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
     For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
     And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

 

Analysis

Sonnet 72 sees the poet imagining that anything the beloved could justify their love with would be false, and embarrass them both.

Billy imagines that after he is dead, the world challenges the youth to list any merit he possessed to would justify their love. He bids the youth to forget him entirely at this point, for there will be nothing worthy to say that isn’t a generous lie. To prevent their true love from becoming false, as it will under such well-meaning exaggerations, let he hopes that his name is buried with his corpse and no longer bring shame to anyone. For I’m ashamed of what he produces, and encourages the young man to share the shame for loving such worthless things.

 

Will’s Wordplay

“Niggard” means miserly or sparing; the truth would leave him morally impoverished.

There is a lurking secondary meaning of the line “And live no more to shame not me or you”. It can also imply, “You yourself should not live any longer, shaming both of us by your refusal to speak of and acknowledge our love.”

 

Seneca Village, Central Park, Manhattan

Seneca Village was a small village on the island of Manhattan, founded by free blacks, Seneca Village existed from 1825 through 1857, when it was torn down for the construction of Central Park. The village was the first significant community of African American property owners on Manhattan, and also came to be inhabited by several other minorities, including English, Irish and German immigrants. The village was located on about 5 acres between where 82nd and 89th Streets and 7th and 8th Avenues would now intersect, an area now covered by Central Park.
“Although the reason for the name Seneca Village is unknown, recent historical and geophysical research has uncovered a great deal of information about this unique community and its inhabitants. Seneca Village, which was located from 81st to 89th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in what is now a section of Central Park, is important to the history of New York City because it may possibly be Manhattan’s first prominent community of African American property owners.
Beginning in 1825 parcels of land were sold to individuals and to members of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, described as the “largest and wealthiest church of coloured people in this city, perhaps in this country.” Within a few years the community developed into a stable settlement of over 250 working-class people, with African Americans owning more than half the households in the village – an unusually high percentage of property ownership for any New York community. The presence of an abundant natural spring near 82nd Street would have provided the fresh drinking water necessary for the maintenance and stability of a large community”.[1]

In the early 19th century, Seneca village attracted many other ethnic groups for different reasons. Seneca Village grew in the 1830s when people from a community called York Hill were forced to move after a government-enforced eviction; the York Hill land was used to build a basin for the Croton Distributing Reservoir. During the potato famine in Ireland many Irish residents came to live in Seneca Village. The village grew by 30 percent during this time. [2]

The village had three churches, a school, and several cemeteries. The First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of Yorkville laid its cornerstone in Seneca Village in 1853. A box put into the cornerstone contained a Bible, a hymn book, the church’s rules, a letter with the names of its five trustees and copies of the newspapers, The Tribune and The Sun. There was a school located in a church.

In 1855, a New York State Census found that Seneca Village had 264 residents. [3] At this time in New York City’s history, most of the city’s population lived below 14th Street, and the region above 59th Street was only sporadically developed and was semi-rural or rural in character. No one knows where the residents of Seneca Village resettled. Unfortunately, to date, no living descendants of Seneca Villagers have been found. [4]

As the campaign to create Central Park moved forward park advocates and the media began to describe Seneca Village and other communities in this area as “shantytowns” and the residents there as “squatters”. The village was razed for park construction. Residents were offered $2,335 for their property. Members of the community fought to retain their land. For two years, residents resisted the police as they petitioned the courts to save their homes, churches, and schools. However, in the summer of 1856, Mayor Fernando Wood prevailed and residents of Seneca Village were given final notice. In 1857, the city government acquired all private property within Seneca Village through eminent domain. On October 1, 1857, city officials in New York reported that the last holdouts living on land that was to become Central Park had been removed. [5]

 

The Site Today

A little beyond Spector Playground, there is what appears to be a stone outcropping which is the corner of a foundation. This is believed to be what is left of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. On Saturday, February 10, 2001 Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern, State Senator David Paterson, Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and New York Historical Society Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum unveiled the Historical Sign commemorating the site where Seneca Village once stood. [6]

In the summer of 2011, the Seneca Village Project organized an archaeological dig of the site. This eight-week field season uncovered the homestead of William Godfrey Wilson, a sexton for All Angels’ Church, and another important deposit from the backyard of two other Seneca Village residents. Ten undergraduate students worked diligently on the site, finding artifacts such as the bone handle of a toothbrush and the leather sole of a child’s shoe. In all, they excavated over 250 bags of artifacts. The public location of the site in Central Park meant that excavators had to back-fill incomplete units each weekend and could not cut any root thicker than half an inch. Nighttime guards also monitored the site to ensure that it was undisturbed. Excavations concluded in July with an open house in which each student presented a poster on some element of the site’s material. These posters are now on display here.

 

References

1. http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/great-lawn/seneca-village-site.html
2. http://www.harlemlive.org/community/parks/senecavillage/seneca.html
3. “Seneca Village”. The New York Historical Society. Retrieved 2006-05-15.
4. Martin, Douglas (January 31, 1997). “A Village Dies, A Park Is Born”. The New York Times.
5. http://www.irishecho.com/newspaper/story.cfm?id=17187
6. http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_newsroom/media_advisories/media_advisories.php?id=8572

 

ACTOR – Edith Bukovics

Bio Coming Soon

 

DIRECTOR – Elitza Daskalova

Elitza Daskalova is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Her interest in film and theatre span over two decades and several continents beginning from her native Bulgaria. She received her BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and earned her filmmaking stripes from sets big (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and small (most recently, The Applicant).

Previously, Elitza partnered with The Sonnet Project on Sonnet 43, which was featured in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (UK) and CineFuturo Film Festival (Brazil). Her past work has been shown in the NYC International Fringe Festival, NewFilmmakers Festival & in variety of media across USA, Europe, & Asia.

Elitza is, at best, an amateur astronomer and at worst, an avid enthusiast.

www.elitzadaskalova.com

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