The Living Record Resumes – and a word about the Rival Poet

Our chronicle of the Sonnets as “the living record” of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (and his royal claim as the son of Oxford and Elizabeth) will resume in place of my “critique of the critique” of the Monument theory by Lynne Kositsky and Roger Stritmatter — two leading members of the current Oxfordian movement and the Shakespeare Fellowship.  It’s all the same subject, anyway — the Sonnets! — and I’ve realized that attempting to write two narratives at once is, frankly, not a good idea.

Having said that, I’d like to use this space (as this Labor Day Weekend begins) to state or re-state plainly and simply that the so-called Rival Poet of Sonnets 77-86 is NOT any real individual of flesh and blood but, rather, the PEN NAME that Oxford adopted in 1593 and 1594 on the dedications of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece. I know, it’s difficult to wipe away a preconceived notion or idea to make room for a wholly different one; but, folks, this is actually the crux of the matter:

Edward de Vere wrote the Sonnets to leave behind him a “monument” of verse to preserve “the living record” of Southampton up to the moment of the royal succession in 1603; and in the process, he recorded why and how he had to bury his name or identity behind the mask of Shakespeare.

J. Thomas Looney wrote in 1920:  “The identity of the young man of the sonnets with the one to whom the long poems were dedicated is further attested by sonnets 81 and 82.”

He first cited these lines from Sonnet 81:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die…

Your monument shall be my gentle verse…

Looney continued:  “As, then, the name of Southampton is the only one which the poet has associated with his verse, not even excepting his own, it is difficult to see how the young man addressed could be any other than he; especially as the companion sonnet [82] proceeds,

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore may’st without attaint o’erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

Sonnets 81 and 82 are within the so-called Rival Poet series, wherein Oxford gives us a clear signal that the “rival” he’s talking about is the pen name “Shakespeare,” behind which he must die to “all the world.”

The printed name “Shakespeare” is the “better spirit” that can praise Southampton publicly while Oxford can’t speak:

Sonnet 80:

O how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame!

Sonnet 86:

Was it his spirit [“Shakespeare’s”]
taught to write above a mortal pitch
That struck me dead?
When your countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

Oxford’s sacrifice is part of the bargain to save his son (Southampton) from execution and gain the promise of his release from the Tower.  The terrible irony is that he makes this bargain with the enemy, Secretary Robert Cecil, whom he must help to bring James of Scotland to the throne instead of his own royal son.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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