“The Living Record” – 19 – What They Said…

I figure why not pause a moment to look back at some of the statements that have been made about the Sonnets:

“Scorn not the Sonnet … With this key, Shakespeare unlock’d his heart.”
William Wordsworth, 1827

“The Sonnets on the whole contain such a quality of thought as must astonish every reflecting reader.”
Alexander Dyce, 1832

“The Sonnets as a whole are concerned with actual fact.”
Thomas Tyler, 1890

“Whoever wrote the Sonnets must have known the depths of spiritual suffering.”
Barrett Wendall, 1894

“The analogy of a correspondence, carried on over years between friends, offers the best clue to their varying continuity.  Their numbers seem to have been chronologically arranged.”
George Wyndham, 1898

“There is much to support the view which holds that the Sonnets are a series of ‘verse letters’ written to two people on the subject of the poet’s relation to them.”
Edward Hubler, 1952

“It is a reasonable assumption that Sonnets 1 through 126 are in sequence.  There is a logic and rightness in their order which is greatly superior to that of any proposed rearrangement … and this order is at least as likely to be the author’s as the editor’s.”
Northrop Frye, 1962

“What is astonishing about the Sonnets, especially when one remembers the age in which they were written, is the impression they make of naked autobiographical confession.”
W. H. Auden, 1964

“There is nothing else quite like them in our literature, and none that have made so ineffaceable an impression upon men’s minds.  This is the reason: they are not ‘literary’ sonnets, in the way that so many sonnet sequences were … They were intensely autobiographical.”
A.  L. Rowse, 1964

“He wrote them, I am quite certain, as one writes a diary, for himself alone, with no thought of a public.  When the sonnets are really obscure, they are obscure in the way that a diary can be, in which the writer does not bother to explain references which are obvious to him, but an outsider can’t know.”
W. H. Auden, 1964

“The continuities are often self-evident … A rhythm, a rhyme, a quirk of syntax, or an echoing image: such minutiae, hardly discernible in conscious reading, knit the poems together … Links like these – and they recur throughout the sequence, with particular density in Sonnets 1-126 – suggest that the poems need no reordering.”
John Kerrigan, 1986

“The real problem of the Sonnets is to find out who ‘Shake-speare’ was.  That done, it might be possible to make the crooked straight and the rough places plane – but not till then … It has sometimes been said that if we could only know who wrote the Sonnets we should know the true Shakespeare.  That he would be found among cultivated Elizabethan courtiers of high position, I have no doubt.”
Sir George Greenwood, 1908

“This autobiography is written by a foreign man in a foreign tongue, which can never be translated.”
T. S. Eliot, 1927

“William Shakespeare was almost certainly homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.  The sonnets provide no evidence on the matter.”
Stephen Booth, 1977

“The question WHEN the sonnets were written is in many respects the most important of all the unanswerable questions they pose.  If it could be answered definitely and finally, there might be some chance of establishing to general satisfaction the identity of the friend, the dark woman and the rival poet (supposing that all were real individuals), of deciding what contemporary sources Shakespeare did or did not use, and even of determining whether the order is the author’s or not.  In the past and at the present, such a solution has been and remains an idle dream.”
Hyder E. Rollins, 1944

I emphasize that final sentence because, if you’ll forgive my boldness, the main goal of this “blog book” is to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that in fact “such a solution” has been found.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 18 – The Bridge

So Oxford’s great obsession with TIME in the Sonnets suddenly became understandable in a very concrete way — in a literal way.  Is it possible, I wondered, that the actual time line of Sonnets 1-126 (where TIME appears exclusively) was tied to the ever-waning life of Elizabeth, leading to her death and the succession?  If so, it meant Oxford was writing the entries of this poetical diary while on the edge of his seat, so to speak; he knew it would come to a screeching halt when the Queen died (or at least upon her funeral), but he could not know when that would happen; so he was writing in a very real race with time.

In doing so he was creating his own record of Southampton as Elizabeth’s rightful but unacknowledged heir, right up to the bitter end; and this accounts for the amazing and even terrifying sense of urgency in these lines as they lead up to Sonnet 126 as the final “envoy” of farewell.

The royal subject matter and theme are interwoven with TIME:

But reck’ning TIME, whose million accidents
Creep in twixt vows, and change decrees of Kings…
Sonnet 115

We can feel the dying of “love” (his son’s royal blood) and his growing sense of inevitability that the Tudor Rose dynasty will be cut down by the sharp, merciless blade of TIME:

Love’s not TIME’S fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks…
Sonnet 116

And he shouts his defiance at TIME as its ending in the Sonnets approaches, accusing TIME of leaving behind its false “registers” or records, which “lie” to posterity rather than tell the truth:

No!  TIME, thou shalt not boast that I do change…
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond’ring at the present, nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee!
Sonnet 123

And even at the end of TIME in these verses, he cries out to his royal son, who has “grown” in this diary according to the “waning” of Elizabeth the Moon:

O Thou my lovely Boy who in thy power
Dost hold TIME’S fickle glass, his sickle hour,
Who hast by waning grown…
Sonnet 126

And it occurred to me soon enough that Oxford had done something else that appeared to be sheer magic: he had tied the specific time line of the Sonnets to some very real dates in history –– dates on the calendar that he knew would never change or die, starting with Queen Elizabeth’s death on March 24, 1603 and her funeral on April 28, 1603.  In this simple way, Oxford created a bridge allowing us to step from the universal poetry of love to his specific and truthful record of events leading to the royal succession and the final loss of any chance for his royal son, Southampton, to succeed his mother the Queen:

When in the Chronicle of wasted TIME…
Sonnet 106

Now I would begin to cross that bridge to see what might be on the other side.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 17 – Love & Time

How could I have overlooked LOVE and TIME, undoubtedly the two most important words in the Sonnets?  I already knew that TIME appears 78 times in the sequence, all within the long opening Fair Youth series (1-126) to Southampton but appearing neither in the Dark Lady series (127-152) to Elizabeth nor in the Bath epilogue (153-154).

And of course LOVE is used a lot in each of these segments, some 200 times in total!

Other commentators have observed that the Sonnets appear to be recording a dramatic struggle of LOVE versus TIME:

And all in war with TIME for LOVE of you!
Sonnet 15

So how would these two crucial words fit into the “special language” revolving around Oxford’s royal son (Southampton) and his son’s mother (Elizabeth)?

He writes to Southampton:

O know, sweet LOVE, I always write of you,
And YOU and LOVE are still my argument…

Sonnet 76

On one level LOVE means what it usually means; Oxford is writing as a father about his unswerving LOVE for Southampton, whom he calls LOVE.

But on the other, more important level, he’s recording his commitment to his son’s royal blood inherited from the Queen and his son’s blood right to succeed her. Therefore the “argument” (topic) of the Sonnets must be SOUTHAMPTON and HIS ROYAL BLOOD.

Oxford’s son is:

A God in LOVE, to whom I am confined.
Sonnet 110

He writes of him as a “child of state” (prince) whom “fortune” (the Queen) would turn into a royal bastard:

If my dear LOVE were but the child of state,
It might for fortune’s bastard be unfathered,
As subject to TIME’S LOVE, or to TIME’S HATE…

Sonnet 124

O Thou my LOVE-LY Boy who in thy power
Dost hold TIME’S fickle glass, his sickle hour…

Sonnet 126

A syllogism emerges:

The Sonnets = Southampton versus Elizabeth

The Sonnets = Love verses Time


Southampton = LOVE
Elizabeth = TIME

I recall the shock of a simple realization:

TIME in the Sonnets must refer not only to time in general, but, also, the  specific, measurable, ever-dwindling calendar time of Queen Elizabeth’s life, leading inexorably and inevitably to her death and the moment of succession to her on the throne, when the fate of Southampton’s royal blood and claim as well as that of the Tudor Rose dynasty will be determined.

And a thought that quickly followed:

So this constant onrush of TIME according to Elizabeth’s waning life must be the actual TIME LINE of Oxford’s poetical diary.

To be continued…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 25, 2009 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 16 – Family Triangle

So basically the special language of the Sonnets revolves around the “family triangle” of Oxford (father) and Elizabeth (mother) and  Southampton (royal son) identified by his motto One for All, All for One and simply as “all” and as “one”:

Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so…
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference…
Fair, kind, and true have often lived alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.
Sonnet 105

(The family triangle has never kept the “seat” or throne in the person of their “one” royal son, who should be king.)

Resembling sire, and child, and happy mother,
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one
Sonnet 8

In the Dark Lady series to Elizabeth, as Oxford pleads with her on behalf of his son as “my next self,” again we find the three of them:

Me from my self thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed.
Of him, my self, and thee, I am forsaken,
A torment thrice three-fold to be crossed.
Sonnet 133

(As we shall see, the above lines are written to Elizabeth while Southampton is in the Tower during 1601-1603.  Oxford pleads on behalf of his imprisoned son while portraying himself as a tragic Christ figure being tortured by mental and emotional agony.)

In my mind I picture Oxford caught between them, trying to bring harmony between his royal son and his sovereign mistress.  As he wrote in a sonnet published in 1599 and then revised and inserted in the Dark Lady series:

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still,
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit is a woman colored ill.
Sonnet 144

Elizabeth is “black” or “dark” or “colored ill” only because of her negative viewpoint toward their son.  Oxford describes the birth of his royal son in Sonnet 33 and how “the region cloud” (Regina’s dark cloud of shame) covered or “masked” his royal identity (and even, at the beginning, removed him from Oxford’s sight):

Even so my Sunne one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendor on my brow,
But out alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath masked him from me now.
Sonnet 33

As a participant in the story, Oxford himself is deeply involved; but as the author, he also “stands outside” while recording the story; and in this capacity he’s chronicling the real-life dramatic conflict between the Prince and his mother the Queen:

The fundamental story is that of Southampton struggling against Elizabeth to succeed her on the throne, with Oxford trying mightily to help him.

The words fall easily into place: Elizabeth’s dynasty of the Tudor Rose is The Rose; her House of Tudor is House and Mansion and Roof; her realm of England is The World; her royal will or pleasure is Pleasure and Will and Desire.  Southampton is The Boy, Bud, Cupid, Flower, Nativity, Creation, The Little Love-God, Fairest Creature, God in Love, Herald, King, Lord, Jewel, Ornament, Successive Heir, Sunne, Sun…

Once I had listed all the various words revolving around these two main characters (Southampton as protagonist and Elizabeth as antagonist), it suddenly struck me that I had actually overlooked the two most important and most frequently used words of them all:  LOVE and TIME.

And this, it would turn out, is the key…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 24, 2009 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 15 – Light vs. Dark

The Earl of Oxford’s special language (“invention”) in the Sonnets enables him to create two entirely different stories running simultaneously: one fiction, the other nonfiction; one expressing the universal and timeless poetry of love, the other recording real events occurring in real time.

The trick of this double-image writing is that, while proceeding “with the time” as in a diary, he restricts his subject matter to Southampton and the Queen while using many different adjectives to create the illusion of variety.  Refusing to acknowledge Southampton as her natural heir, Elizabeth regards him with her imperial frown that casts its dark clouds and shadows of disgrace upon him, as Oxford writes to him in Sonnet 53:

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?

Wholly committed to his royal son, Oxford shines his light into this darkness to keep illuminating him. The Sonnets record this struggle between Elizabeth and Oxford … between her negative, dark view of Southampton and his own positive, bright view of their son … this battle between the Queen’s view of Southampton as a bastard and Oxford’s view of him as a prince.  And in this
way, reflecting the struggle, he uses a variety of dark and light adjectives.

Elizabeth casts the shadow of her all-powerful frown upon Southampton, so he becomes:

Bare, Barren, Base, Black, Blamed, Dark, Darkly, Dateless, Despised, Disdained, Disgraced, False, Forlorn, Foul, Ghastly, Hidden, Masked, None, Profaned, Rank, Rotten, Sable, Scorned, Shamed, Slandered, Sullen, Sullied, Suspect, Ugly, Unfair, Unseen, Untrimmed, Vulgar, Wasted, Worst…

Oxford shines his light upon him so he becomes:

Abundant, Alike, All, Alone, Always, Beauteous, Beloved, Best, Blessed, Bounteous, Bright, Celestial, Clear, Constant, Controlling, Crowned, Darling, Dear, Dearest, Dearly, Divine, Entitled, Eternal, Excellent, Fair, Fairer, Fairest, Fairly, Fragrant, Fresh, Fresher, Full, Gaudy, Gentle, Gentlest,  Gently, Gilded, Glorious, Golden, Gracious, Green, Happy, High, Holy, Immortal, Kind, Lovely, Mightier, Near, Nearly, One, Only, Perfect, Powerful, Precious, Proud, Proudly, Pure, Purple, Rare, Religious, Rich, Richer, Right, Rightly, Riper, Scarlet, Silver, Special, Strong, Successive, Sweet, Sweetest, Sweetly, Tall, Tender, True, Virtuous, Wondrous, Worthy…

The lines of these sonnets are “lines of life” (Sonnet 16); they are lines of verse and blood lines; they are recreating Southampton’s life and blood; and because the Queen has turned him “black” with disgrace, the lines on the page have also been turned black.

Here is Oxford shining his light on their royal son in Sonnet 60:

Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,
Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight…

And here’s his defiance on behalf of Southampton’s “beauty” or blood from Elizabeth (who is Venus, goddess of Love and Beauty) in Sonnet 63:

His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
And they shall live, and he in them still green.

In Sonnet 67 he wonders why “poor” Elizabeth (who is bankrupt of any other blood heirs) should cast her shadow upon the Tudor Rose when her son’s Tudor Rose blood is true or royal:

Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
Roses of shadow, since his Rose is true?

The universal poetry is still right there in front of us, but soon it becomes transparent and we can “see through it” to recognize the dynamic true story running in parallel just below the surface.  But for me this early glimpse of Oxford’s “invention” was just the beginning…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 22, 2009 at 5:59 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 14 – Son. 76 (C)

In the opening line of the second quatrain of Sonnet 76, the Earl of Oxford tells us he is always writing about Southampton (“all one”) in relation to Elizabeth (“ever the same”) in this poetical diary:

Why write I still all one, ever the same… *

According to our hypotheses up to now, Southampton is Oxford’s son by the Queen; so the younger earl is a prince and the “protagonist” of the chronicle.

In fact Oxford uses the first two lines of the next quatrain by telling his son the prince (and us) that he is “still” or always writing about him; and, too, that his constant “argument” or theme or topic is “you and love.”

O know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument.

And he continues:

So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent.

Here is the simple answer to his special language:   “all” the best he can do (“all” indicating Southampton again) is to keep “dressing old words new” or using a variety of other words to mean the same thing. By way of example, for Queen Elizabeth (and her Tudor blood) he can use Beauty.  And to create the illusion of variety, he can also refer to her as Fortune and Heaven and Nature and Mistress and Moon and so on.

The key is consistency.  Take Fortune, for example:  on the surface, for the universal side of the double image, that word can have all kinds of meanings and reverberations; while also recording his real-life story, however, Oxford must use Fortune for Elizabeth each and every time it appears.

Is this some kind of “code” or new language?  Well, yes and no.  In actual practice, for example, the Queen was in fact referred to not only as Beauty but, also, as Fortune and Heaven and Nature and Mistress and Moon!  On the universal side, each word has its individual meaning or meanings; but on the specific side, each word signifies the Queen and the Queen alone:

Sonnet 127: But now is black beauty’s successive heir…

Sonnet 29:  When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes…

Sonnet 29:  And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries…

Sonnet 2:  Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend…

Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the Sunne…

Sonnet 107: The mortal Moon hath her eclipse endured…

Using this deceptively simple method, Oxford can write the truth and conceal it at the same time; he can keep recording his story while giving the impression that he’s writing universal poetry.

Elizabeth had made it high treason for anyone to even speak or write about any royal claim; therefore, Oxford had to give himself  “deniability.” If these verses with their treasonous subject matter fell into the wrong hands, he could say: “Oh, no, I’m not writing about any royal prince with any royal claim!  This is just ordinary stuff about beauty and love and bright eyes and dark hair — you know, poetry!  It’s harmless!”

He describes his method more concretely in Sonnet 105:

Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words,
And in this change is my invention spent

* (All emphases are mine.)

Published in: Uncategorized on January 18, 2009 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 14 – Sonnet 76 (B)

The second quatrain of Sonnet 76 is the key to the special language; and its opening line is the most important one:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,

I decided to accept the hypothesis that Oxford is telling us directly that in this poetical sequence he “still” or always writes about Lord Southampton (One for All, All for One) in relation to Queen Elizabeth (Ever the Same) — that these two individuals, identified by just five words (“all one, ever the same”), are the constant subjects of his ongoing chronicle of real events occurring in real time.  Putting it another way, I thought, he seems to say that throughout the Sonnets he’s deliberately restricting his subject matter to this single topic.

(He’s also glancing at himself with “ever” for E. Ver or Edward Vere.  He’s the third member of the family triangle:  “Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords” – Sonnet 105)

And keep invention in a noted weed,

Okay … he’s continuing to instruct us.  He’s just told us in the first quatrain that he never uses any “methods” other than the one he’s been using all along.  And now he identifies this method as his “invention,” which he weaves within the “noted weed” or familiar costume of Elizabethan poetry.

This “invention” or special language is made possible by the words themselves (commonly used words such as bright, dark, day, night, love, hate, beauty, nature, sun, etc.),  which serve as a disguise that is actually transparent.  His “invention” is hiding in plain sight!

That every word doth almost tell my name,

Of course “every word” suggests “Edward” and echoes “ever” for E. Ver, but I also took him to mean that he literally uses every word to “almost” reveal his own “name” or identity.   And this single line serves as an example of just what he says he’s doing; it “almost” (but not quite) reveals that his “name” is Edward de Vere!

By using “every word” he employs the trick of the artist who creates a “double image” by drawing every line in service of both images at once — like the picture that shows a flock of birds in the sky and simultaneously a school of fish in the water.  So “every word” of these sonnets conveys a universal and timeless fictional image while simultaneously recording the very specific non-fictional story that he’s recording and trying to preserve for posterity.

Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?

The simple word “birth” hooks us back up to the first line of this sonnet, where Oxford wonders why his verse is so “barren” – as a womb is said to be barren – and confirms that he’s trying to give birth or rebirth to his royal son by means of this “living record” within the glorious poetry.  The chronicle of the Sonnets is a womb within which his son can “proceed” or issue and grow.

The final two lines of this quatrain – with “every word” and “proceed” – are deliberate echoes of the Gospel of Mathew, 4.4: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

(David and Ben Crystal in Shakespeare’s Words observe that Shakespeare uses “proceedings” to refer to “lines of descent.”)

The next quatrain will bring all the elements together, showing how to recognize the other side of the double image and, finally, how to read the story that’s been right in front of us all along.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 17, 2009 at 12:32 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 14 – Sonnet 76 (A)

So I figured, let’s see where this takes us.  Nowhere or somewhere…

If Oxford is building a “monument” to preserve “the living record” of Southampton as his royal son by the Queen, then this is a dangerous document of contemporary history.  And since Elizabeth had made it high treason to speak or write about any royal claim, this book by its very existence is treasonous.

Therefore he must be using some kind of special language to create a fictional (and universal) reality on the surface, while also recording the nonfictional (and specific) reality running in parallel just beneath it.  And even a quick glance at Sonnet 76 tells me that right here Oxford has inserted his instructions for understanding the specific meaning of his words.  Let’s start with the first four lines…

“Why is my verse so barren of new pride?”

Hmmm.  He’s talking directly about “my verse” or this particular sequence of sonnets.  And with this rhetorical question he speaks of the sequence as a womb that is now “barren” of what gives him “pride” (i.e., his royal son), as in “the pride of kingly sway” in Richard II, 4.1.206.  He’s a father who is literally trying to give birth — or rebirth — to his son (and prince) by means of the womb of these sonnets.

“So far from variation or quick change?”

These sonnets never vary — not in their form or contents.  And “quick change” is a deliberate echo of “quick with child” or the “quickening” (motion of the fetus) that signals the imminent birth of new life and growth.

“Why with the time do I not glance aside”

He is writing “with the time” or in relation to real events as they occur in real time, akin to creating the chronological entries of a diary.  And he is keeping his eyes straight, not glancing aside …

“To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?”

… to any new “methods” of writing.  And by this rhetorical question he announces that in this sonnet he’s going to tell us about the  “method” that he himself uses to create these little poems.  This method never varies or changes.  Metaphorically it involves “compounds” or mixtures of chemicals used in alchemy; but here, of course, it involves compounds or  mixtures of words, words, words.

He mixes his words in a strange or unique way to produce something greater than its parts.

Okay, this is exciting.  We’re on the brink of comprehending how he writes these private sonnets and, therefore, of being able to read the story he’s setting down for posterity as time keeps passing.

To be continued…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 14, 2009 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 13B – “A Prince”

While G. Wilson Knight decided that the royal imagery in the Sonnets must be strictly metaphorical and certainly not meant to be taken literally, Leslie Hotson could not deny the “elephant in the living room” and so concluded, in Mr. W. H. of 1965, that “Shakespeare” must have been addressing a real prince in line to be King of England.

Within the traditional authorship paradigm, of course, this conclusion is impossible; it’s absurd to think that Will of Stratford could have been writing to an actual prince.  And yet!  Here is Hotson, staring at the elephant and refusing to blink!

Noting the image of the younger man as a “Sun” and a “God” and an “Ocean,” he states:

“It is well known that, following a general Renaissance practice drawn from antiquity, kings commonly figured as earthly ‘suns’ in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries … ‘Gods on earth’ was proverbially used of kings as far back as Menander, and is frequent in Shakespeare … ‘Ocean’ or ‘sea’ as a figure for king is often found in Shakespeare and his fellow-writers.

“Here, then, we have Shakespeare typifying his Friend variously as a sun, a god, an ocean or a sea: three familiar metaphors which he and his contemporaries use to represent a sovereign prince or king

“Whatever may be meant by it here in the Sonnets, the Shakespearean and Elizabethan element common to the three is certainly king, and the metaphors exhibit a consistency of reference.”

Hotson finds various usages in the Sonnets of succession, heir and issue, noting that these are terms that the same author “elsewhere applies to the paramount problems of royalty.”

He also notes the poet’s direct usage of “sovereign” and “king” to describe the beloved younger man; and this “sustained and unmistakable” royal language in the Sonnets makes it obvious that “what he sets before us is an array of powers peculiar to a king: power to grant charters of privilege and letters patent, power to pardon crimes – in short, the exclusively royal prerogative.”

And, Hotson goes on, we “need no reminder that it was to the king, and to no mortal but the king, that his dutiful subjects and vassals offered oblations; similarly, that it was only to the monarch or ruling magistrate that embassies were directed.”

He notes the poet’s use of “largess” and “bounty”, writing: “Of the first it is significant to note that in his other works Shakespeare applies largess only to the gifts or donatives of kings.  As for bounty, the poet’s attribution of this grace to kings, while not exclusive, is characteristic … In the same way we recognize grace, state, and glory typically in Shakespeare’s kings.”

And finally he points to the explicit usages in the Sonnets of “king” and “kingdoms,” all leading to a grand [and highly unorthodox] conclusion:

“Clearly these consenting terms cannot be dismissed as scattered surface-ornament.  They are intrinsic.  What is more, they intensify each other.  By direct address, by varied metaphor, and by multifarious allusion, the description of the Friend communicated is always one: monarch, sovereign prince, king …

“The harping on the same string is so insistent as to make one ask why it has not arrested attention.  No doubt everyone has regarded this ‘king’ sense as formal hyperbole and nothing more.  Any literal meaning looks quite incredible – a rank impossibility.”

So how does Hotson deal with it?  Well, first, since the younger man is a prince or king, we have to eliminate the Earl of Southampton, even though the evidence overwhelmingly points to him!  He can’t be any other young nobleman, either — leading Hotson to “discover” that the Fair Youth (who is also “Mr. W. H.” to whom the Sonnets were dedicated in 1609) must have been a student at Gray’s Inn, named Master William Hatcliffe, who played the part of the Prince of Purpoole in a pageant in 1594…

This absurd conclusion also requires Hotson to limit the chronology of the Sonnets to the mid-1590’s, thereby forcing him to deny that Sonnet 107 refers to the death of Elizabeth I (“the mortal Moon”) in the spring of 1603, when the newly proclaimed monarch, James I, immediately ordered Southampton liberated from prison — after he had been “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” in the Tower.

So what begins as a daring, unblinking look at the royal contents of the Sonnets winds up in that same old, frustrating Stratfordian maze, on a path that eventually leads nowhere.  But at first, Hotson’s instinct is right on target — these private verses are recording the life of a prince who deserved by blood to be king.

This vew can be entertained seriously when the Earl of Oxford is perceived as recording that Southampton was his and Elizabeth’s unacknowledged royal son who deserved to succeed her as King IX … but who, instead, was held hostage in the Tower (a prisoner convicted of high treason) until Secretary Robert Cecil could engineer the succession of James and retain his own power behind the throne.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Living Record” – 13A – “Royal Youth”

Those who believe the Earl of Oxford wrote the Shakespeare poems and plays aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed that the Sonnets address the younger man (Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton) as a prince of the royal blood.

The Shakespeare scholar G. Wilson Knight made this observation in The Sovereign Flower of 1958 and, more thoroughly, in The Mutual Flame of 1962; but since he was operating within the traditional Stratfordian paradigm, he was forced to conclude that the poet must have used such royal imagery in a strictly metaphorical context.

Here are some of Wilson’s remarks from the works cited above:

“The Sonnets regularly express love through metaphors from royalty and its derivatives, using such phrases as my sovereign, thy glory, lord of my love, embassy of love, commanded by the motion of thine eyes

“At their greatest moments the Sonnets are really less love-poetry than an almost religious adoration … Royal images recur … The poet addresses the youth as lord of my love, to whom he sends a written ambassage; he is my sovereign and the poet his servant or slave

“The loved one is royal…

“He is crowned with various gifts of nature and fortune, especially all those beauties whereof now he’s King.  Like a sovereign, he radiates worth, his eyes lending a double majesty … Our final impression is of love itself as king, of some super-personality, the Sun … The associations are just, since the king, properly understood, holds within society precisely this super-personal and supernal function …

“Kingship is naturally golden, and golden impressions recur with similar variations in use … The Sun is nature’s king, and also pre-eminently golden.  Throughout Shakespeare king and sun are compared … With the Fair Youth, the association of that Sun, thine eye comes easily enough…

“We have various clusters of king, gold, and sunKing and gold come together in the gilded monuments of Princes; and sun and gold, when the Sun’s gold complexion is dimmed in the sonnet, “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day,” or the young man graces the day and gilds the evening in place of stars.  We may have all three.  So great Princess’ favorites are compared to the marigold opening to the Sun’s eye …

“These impressions are not just decoration … That the poet of the Sonnets was deeply concerned with such themes is clear from the many comparisons of his love to kings and state-affairs.  His very love is felt as royal and stately.  The Sonnets are the heart of Shakespeare’s royal poetry.”

This perception fits right into the hypothesis that Oxford was addressing Southampton as a devoted father-and-subject to his beloved son-and-prince…

But since there’s no way it can fit into the orthodox view of “Shakespeare” as a flesh-and-blood man, traditional scholars are akin to travelers within a maze who come to a wall and have no other choice but to turn around and go back … back again to the drawing board … a treadmill these scholars have endured for centuries.

How could it hurt to learn about the life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who played a very real and dynamic role in the English renaissance of literature and drama leading up to “Shakespeare” in 1593…

Published in: Uncategorized on January 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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