Reason No. 7 – Oxford Wrote the First “Shakespearean” Sonnet of Elizabeth’s Reign

This piece of circumstantial evidence that Oxford was “Shakespeare” really speaks for itself, without much additional comment needed from me.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547) - Beheaded a few years before Oxford, his nephew, was born; as a poet he introduced the "Shakespearean" sonnet into England and Oxford followed suit soon after becoming a courtier at twenty-one in 1571

Poetry was part of Edward de Vere’s family heritage.  He was a boy when the lyrical verses of his late uncle the Earl of Surrey were published, and among them were the first English sonnets in the form to become known much later as the “Shakespearean” form.

Soon after Oxford turned twenty-one in 1571 and began his steep rise in the royal favor, he himself composed the first “Shakespearean sonnet” of the Elizabethan reign.

Oxford’s sonnet consisted of a series of questions to himself about the one who was the center of his universe. The answer to each question was Elizabeth, who — “above the rest in Court” — was the one who gave him royal “grace.”   (Only a monarch could give grace.)  All his loyal devotion was directed to his sovereign mistress.

The words and themes of this early work will reappear in the private verses published in 1609, five years after Oxford’s death, entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.

We’ll take a look at a few of these parallels, but, first, his Shakespearean sonnet:

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart?

Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?

Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart?

Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint?

Who first did paint with colors pale thy face?

Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?

Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace?

Who made thee strive in honor to be best?

In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,

To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?

With patient mind each passion to endure,

In one desire to settle to the end?

Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,

As nought but death may ever change thy mind.

The Shakespearean sonnet form using Sonnet 129 as an example

The opening line – “Who taught thee first to sigh alas, my heart” – will be echoed decades later by “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 150: “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more.”

Oxford’s phrase “Above the rest” in the second quatrain will be repeated in Sonnet 91: “Wherein it finds a joy above the rest.”

His theme in the first line of the third quatrain – “In constant truth to bide so firm and sure” – will find similar expression by “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 152:

“Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy.”

Queen Elizabeth I circa 1565-1570, when she was age 32-37

It’s fitting that Oxford’s sonnet to and about Elizabeth is echoed so strongly in the later Dark Lady Series of the Shakespeare sonnets (127-152), given the premise of The Monument that the “dark lady” is the Queen herself – not, I should add, because of any dark physical coloring but because of her “dark” or negative attitude and actions toward the “fair youth,” Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton.

A pretty strong link in the chain of evidence, I’d say.

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We love you Hank! Thanks for gracing us with you insights on the sonnets and the 100 reasons. Can you really do that? Ben

    • Thanks, Ben! Can I reach 100 reasons? Well, here’s a clue to one aspect of my personality: I am not one to draw up a list of 100 reasons beforehand. I’m quite confident that I’ll get there, but wouldn’t want to spoil the fun by planning too much beforehand. This way I can surprise myself! Cheers and best wishes for all success with your great Oxfordian endeavors!

  2. Thanks Hank, for all your great work. I love your series or reasons.

  3. This reason is powerful and should be included in every study on the authorship question for sure.

    Now, reading some Günter Grass’ essays I find this:

    If Plutarch based the decadence and fall of his hero [Corolianus] in that to this half orphan there was the lack of a father, and thus the hand that could educate him, in Shakespeare a penetranting complex of Electra haunts the play (…). Victories are pursued, wounds are accumulated, no doubt for the homeland, but in the first instance to put at the feet of the mother the conquered city, to enrich the collection of scars of the mother; because she, Volumnia, treats her son as a lover (…).

    from ‘Prehistory and history of the tragedy of Corolianus’.

    This difference of Shakespeare from Plutarch is another reason why Shakespeare was De Vere. His complex of Electra or Aedipus is everywhere, as in Hamlet or Bottom in ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’.

  4. There was only one person at this time
    bound “til death do us part.”
    to Edward [“Above the rest in Court”] de Vere:
    ———————————————–
    Who taught thee [Anne Cecil] first to sigh, alas, my heart?
    Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?
    Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart?
    Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint?

    Who first did paint with colors pale thy face?
    Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?
    Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace?
    Who made thee strive in honor to be best?

    In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
    To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?
    With patient mind each passion to endure,
    In one desire to settle to the end?

    Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
    As nought but death may ever change thy mind.
    ———————————————–
    There is also cipher evidence that supports this choice.

    • Well, now, Art, you have a point and I’m sure readers would like to hear the cipher evidence — of which you are a master, I might add. I’m glad your point has nothing to do with the main purpose of this blog post, which is Oxford’s writing of an early Shakespearean sonnet; but I did think that the one in “Court” who gave him “grace” would have to be the Queen. Yes, he was married to William Cecil’s daughter, probably an arranged marriage, and yes he could have given Anne Cecil this very sonnet — but I think she would rather have him write “Above the rest IN THE WORLD who gave thee grace.” I mean, by limiting the field to the Court he’s giving himself a pretty wide berth:-)
      Thanks and cheers from Hank

      • Art, I had meant to add that in my view if Oxford had meant Anne the Queen would have been much offended or worse. In the first place the monarch is the one who has “grace” to give; but in any case to say that Anne had more grace than even Elizabeth would have irked her no end and who knows what she would have done to him….

  5. It is a little tricky showing the
    [L]ord of [O]xford: [VERE] / [ANNE] cipher
    in blog format but I will try:
    ————————————-
    Who taught the fyrst to syg{H}e, alas my harte?
    Who taught thy tongue ye woefull wordes of playnt[E]?
    Who fylled your eyes with teares of bitter smarte?
    Who gaue thee g[R]eefe and made thy ioyes to faynte?
    Who fyrste did paynte with cou[L|E]rs pal thy face?
    Who fy{R}ste did breake thy s{L|E}eps of quiet rest?
    Ab[O|V]e the rest in Courte who gaue the grace?
    Who made the stryue in honour to be beste?
    In const[A]nte trouthe to byde so fyrme ad sure
    To scorne the worlde, reg{A}rdi[N]g but thye free{N}des?
    With patient my{N}de eche passione to {E}ndure,
    I[N] one} desyre to settle to the ende?
    Loue then thy choyse wherin such[E] CHO}yse thou bynde
    As noughte but deathe maye euer change thye mynde.
    ————————————-
    The “Who” in question {H}ERE]
    as with the [E]CHO} Verse)
    is [L]ord of [O]xford: [VERE]

    as is shown both in the skip 18 array:
    ……………………………….
    _________

    . [L|E]r s p-a l t h y f a c e W-h-o f
    . y{R}s t e-d i d b r e a k e t-h-y s
    . {L|E}e p s-o f q u i e t r e s-t-A b
    . [O|V]e t h-e r e s t i n C o u-r-t e
    . w-h-o g a-u e t h e g r a c e-W-h o
    . m-a-d e t-h e s t r y u e i n-h-o n
    . O|u-r t o-b e b e s t e I n c-o-n s
    . t[A]n t e-t r o u t h e t o b-y-d e
    . s-o-f y r-m e a d s u r e T o-s-c o
    . r n e t h e w o r l d e r e g{A}r d
    . i[N]g b u_t t h y e f r e e{N}d e s
    . W-i-t h p-a t i e n t m y{N}d e e c
    . h-e-p a s s i o n e t o{E}n d u r e
    ……………………………….
    and especially in the skip 54 (= 3 x 18) array:
    ————————————————-
    Who taught the fyrst to syg-

    -g{H}ealasmyharteWhota u-ght- ….
    _t[E]Whofylledyoureyes___- w-ith- ….
    -g[R]eefeandmadethyioy_- e-sto- ….
    [L|E]rspalthyfaceWhofy___ {R}ste- ….
    [O|V]etherestinCourtew___- h-oga- ….
    -O|u-rtobebesteInconst___ [A]nte- ….
    _r-n-etheworldereg{A}rdi__[N]gbu ….
    _h-e-passioneto{E}ndureI- [N]one} ….
    _t-h-ychoysewherinsuch_ [E]CHO} ….

    As noughte but deathe maye euer change thye mynde.
    ————————————————-
    [ANNE] who [LO|VE]s, chooses & marries ’til deathe
    [L]ord of [O]xford: [VERE] appears in both arrays.

    [ANNE] is also the subject of the [E]CHO} verse.
    ————————————————
    *ECO*: *ECHO* (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese)
    *ECO*: *HERE* (Venetian)
    ………………………………..
    prefatus [E]dwardus [C]omes [O]xon
    .
    Indenture between Oxford and John Lyly, 1584
    http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~ahnelson/DOCS/lyly1.html
    ——————————————

  6. Oh boy…

    That’s what one might call, for its sheer mad romanticism, “a baconian rhapsody.”


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