“The Fable of O” – Written by Edward de Vere, the Future Earl of Oxford at Age 10 in 1560?

This is the frontispiece of a book published anonymously in 1560, when Edward de Vere, the future Earl of Oxford, was ten years old.  Had he written it?  Had he created this work as a boy?

The Fable of O - 1560 - The original frontispiece had borders filled in with rude woodcuts, undoubtedly an expensive private project

The full title is THE FABLE OF Ovid treating of Narcissus, translated out of Latin into English Metre, with a moral ther(e)unto, very pleasante to re(a)de.  [Note: CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEWS]

Two years later, at age twelve upon his father’s death, Oxford would become a royal ward of Queen Elizabeth living at Cecil House in London — where a famous translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (containing the Narcissus tale), from Latin into English, would be carried out.  This work would be attributed to Oxford’s maternal uncle, Arthur Golding, the puritanical scholar who also lived there during part of that time; and decades later it would become known as Shakespeare’s favorite classical source.

"The 15 Books of P. Ovidius Naso, entitled Metamorphosis, translated out of Latin into English meeter, by Arthur Golding, Gentleman" - 1567

Did the teenage Edward de Vere actually compose the youthful, spirited, sensual translation of the fifteen books that comprise Ovid’s Metamorphoses as by Golding, published partially in 1565 and fully in 1567?

And as preparation, had he already been copying and translating Ovid’s stories from childhood?  If so, perhaps he worked upon various English versions Ovid’s stories, including this translation of Narcissus, and had it printed in 1560 at age ten as a limited edition – not with his name on it, but with a title page bearing a top line reading The Fable of O … as a little private joke … indicating The Fable of Oxford.

[In a letter to Lord Burghley in 1576 at age twenty-six, Oxford would refer to gossip about his wife being unfaithful as “the fable of the world.”]

In the “Moralization of the Fable” that follows the translation, the same writer refers to “youthful years,” perhaps referring to his own young age:

A careles lyfe thus led in youthfull yeares

A wilfull waye be seemeth well to take;

So this same witte as wilde desire him stirs

Unconstantely, for luste and pleasures sake;

From this to that his vaine inventions wake

A restless time in nedless worke doth spende,

Till that hereof he findes the foolish ende.

I recommend the edition by John Frederick Nims (1913-1999), which was reprinted by Paul Dry Books in 2000 with an essay by Jonathan Bate, who writes of the “Golding” work:

“It is certainly the most famous translation of Ovid into English.  It was the English Ovid from the time of its publication in 1567 until about a decade after the death of Shakespeare in 1616 – the Ovid, that is, for all who read him in English during the greatest period of our literature.  And in its racy verve, its quirks and oddities, its rugged English gusto, it is still more enjoyable, more plain fun to read, than any other Metamorphoses in English.”

Sounds to me like the rugged boyish gusto of the spirited young Shakespeare himself…

[To find the original text of The Fable of O, see W.E. Buckley (Ed); Cephalus and Procris; Narcissus; Roxburghe Club; 1882]

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  1. Thank you very much for the picture of the title-page of “The Fable of O”, for now I am translating the book “Ver, begin” into English and can include this link of your blog to the readers.

    With the picture facing the reader (by clicking on the link in the footnote) the idea of de Vere declaring his “fable” is much clearer.

    Loved watching “Anonymous,” although I expect another movie: one longer, as long as Branagh’s “Hamlet” (4 hours): HA!

    By the way, my investigations on the “new” poet I told you are being confirmed as I proceed more and more into his pen names…

  2. Hank, that title page is certainly an “eye-opener,” you’ve got to admit!

    • Roger — yes indeed! And maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that any printer setting the letters into place could not have divided “Ovid” into “O” and “vid” on separate lines by accident. And given that it must have been deliberate, the explanations would seem to be limited: (1) it’s kinda catchy this way, (2) it is meant to signify something or someone, (3) ?

      Also, as J. T. Looney remarked in identifying Oxford in 1920, one must take into account the “context” of “discovering” something. In other words, that frontispiece had been there all along (as Oxford’s grant had been, I believe) and obviously had meant nothing to those who had gazed at it. But we look at it having first postulated Oxford in connection with Ovid, and lo! it opens the eye, as you say!

  3. One of the reasons I am more agnostic about Oxford’s candidacy is posts like this. There are assumptions here that I am not sure are well founded in literary analysis but more in conjecture. I am not a great fan of Terry Ross but when he is good, he can be very good. Here is a link to an essay of his on HLAS on this subject. If one wishes to deal with the subject, one has to deal with Ross’ challenge which appears quite strong.


    To get in, sign in, search Ross, Oxford, Golding, Ovid and find “What, Golding Again? was Re: Juvenilia”, Then go to the first post which is Ross. He makes a very compelling case for Golding’s authorship.

    (I presented on this at Portland years ago as part of the “State of the Debate”.)

    We have to be extremely assiduous. Many Oxfordian assumptions through the years have been discredited. (“Will Minoxz” for one).

    I have to see a true literary rebuttal of Ross’ well thought out and presented argument before I can even begin to discuss the possibility that Devere translated Ovid.

    On the other hand, Ross can be ludicrous as he was in trying to rebut Pat Dooley and ridiculous in his essay ob Polonious as Burghley when he uses the classic Ross technique of conflating a minor piece to attempt to deal with the major premise. Kind of bi polar in a literary sense.

    So read his essay and refute it before going off in a giddy way.


  4. Here is Ross’ post on the matter. Have at it.

    I blame myself. I have been busy with other matters, and have found the
    Sondheim series at the Kennedy Center a vastly more interesting use of my
    weekends even than hlas, and as a result, Oxfordian chestnuts that were
    dealt with years ago are sprouting again as if they were new and, this
    time, might be magically inoculated against the blight that keeps them
    from maturing. I really should put my Peacham and Golding material up at
    the Shakespeare Authorship site, and I need to do the same for my
    elucidations of Price’s filter. Oh well, for now, let me do the Golding
    bit one more time.

    On 27 Jul 2002, Truepenny25 wrote:

    > Both (all) sides in the authorship controversy would like to discover
    > some of their author’s juvenilia that supports their case.

    It doesn’t matter whether somebody wishes there were more “support” for
    Shakespeare’s authorship of his works. What we have is plenty — more
    than for most of his contemporaries, and more than enough to establish his
    authorship of the great bulk of the works generally attributed to him.
    For a brief outline of the evidence, see Tom Reedy and Dave Kathman’s
    essay at http://ShakespeareAuthorship.com/howdowe.html

    But you had Oxford in mind, I think.

    > Since Shakeare’s favorite allusion book is Ovid’s Metamorphes, both in
    > the original and Golding’s translation, it is instructive to examine the
    > language employed by Golding who is best known for translating Calvin
    > sermons.

    Everybody agrees that Shakespeare was very familiar with the
    *Metamorphoses*, in both Latin and Golding’s English version, but it is
    harder than you might think to tie very many particular passages in
    Shakespeare to particular passages in Ovid (or Golding). It’s much easier
    to find parallel passages in Shakespeare and North’s Plutarch, or
    Shakespeare and Holinshed.

    > Frederick Nims’

    John Frederick Nims.

    > introduction to the Simon & Schuster 1965 edition of Golding’s
    > translation says, among other things: “He begins by metamorphosing Ovid:
    > by turning the sophisticated Roman into a ruddy country gentleman with
    > tremendous gusto, a sharp eye on life around him, an ear for racy
    > speach, and a gift of doggerel…When he doesn’t translate names, he
    > declassisizes them with jaunty Elizabethan abbreviations. Pentheus,
    > Theseus, Orpheus, and others lose a few inches of their heroic stature
    > when they are called “Penthey,” “Thesey,” and “Orphy.” Thisbe tells
    > Pyramus she is his darling “Thisb.”…”hit or miss” becomes “hittymissy”
    > and “strong drink” becomes “merry-go-down”… “Sometime, with Golding’s
    > weird and piquant vocabulary, we feel we are in Lewis Carroll country,
    > in a land where courses whewl, where orpid bugs sty awkly in the queach,
    > where froshes yesk, and flackering pookes ensue.”

    You appear not to have read Golding’s Ovid, or Nims’s Introduction, but
    only to have looked at Ogburn. Ogburn, by the way, gives no sign of ever
    having read anything by Golding, or he never would have referred to
    Golding’s translation of Beza’s play as one of the “grim works like
    *Abraham’s Sacrifice* (445) — does Ogburn even know the Biblical story of

    Here are some comments I made on an earlier occasion when some Oxfordian
    trusted Ogburn on Golding:

    Although I doubt Ogburn has actually read Golding’s *Metamorphoses*, he
    has seen and misread John Frederick Nims’s introduction to a modern
    reprint of the work. Nims does not doubt Golding’s authorship of the
    work; indeed, he delights in Golding’s sometimes “wierd and piquant
    vocabulary.” He says that sometimes in Golding’s book “we feel we are in
    Lewis Carroll country, in a land where corsies whewl, where orpid buggs
    sty awkly in the queach, where froshes yesk, and flackering pookes ensue.
    None of this may be quite ‘beautiful,’ but it would be hard to deny it is
    rich in delights of its own.” From this, Ogburn guesses that the actual
    author was the 14-year old Oxford.

    Nims, himself a fine poet, translator, and fan of the English language,
    does not say any of those colorful terms are inaccurate, and far from
    objecting to them on that basis, he finds them delightful (for what it’s
    worth, “Jabberwocky” was written not by a teenager but by a man in his
    late 30s — about the age Goldinmg was when he translated Ovid). Golding
    said his purpose to make Ovid “so well acquainted with our toong, / As
    that he may in English verse as in his own be soong.” Nims says of
    Golding, “certainly no one has translated so successfully OUT of Latin–or
    into so native an English.”

    Ogburn ignores (or, more likely, doesn’t know) the publication history of
    Golding’s Ovid. When the first four books of Arthur Golding’s translation
    of Ovid’s *Metamorphoses* appeared in 1565, Golding (and only Golding) was
    named on the title page as the translator. When the complete edition came
    out in 1567, Golding (and only Golding) was named as the translator;
    moreover, the author’s epistle bore Golding’s name at its beginning and
    end. Golding nowhere suggests that the translation was anything but his
    own work. In each of the seven later editions Golding (and only Golding)
    was named as the translator. Contemporaries referred to Golding (and only
    Golding) as the translator. The same Arthur Golding translated other
    Latin works and was fully capable of doing the job. Oxford, on the other
    hand, never translated Caesar or Seneca that we know of, let alone Ovid.
    Oxford’s poetry does not resemble Golding’s. I know of no one before
    Ogburn’s esteemed progenitor D. M. Ogburn that ever doubted Golding’s
    authorship, and none of the Ogburns has made a case either against the
    attribution to Golding or in favor of awarding the credit to Oxford.

    Here are some lines from book 2 that Ogburn would have us believe are the
    work of the 14-year-old de Vere (Phaeton is about to ride the chariot of
    the sun):

    His father having made delay as long as he could shift,
    Did lead him where his Chariot stood, which was of Vulcan’s gift.
    The Axeltree was massie golde, the Bucke was massie golde,
    The utmost fellies of the wheeles, and where the tree was rolde.
    The spokes were all of sylver bright, the Chrysolites and Gemmes
    That stood uppon the Collars, Trace, and hounces in their hemmes
    Did cast a sheere and glimmering light, as Phoebus shone thereon.
    Now while the lusty Phaeton stood gazing here upon,
    And wondered at the workmanship of every thing: beholde
    The earely morning in the East began me to unfolde
    Hir purple Gates, and shewde hir house bedeckt with Roses red.
    The twinckling starres withdrew which by the morning star are led:
    Who as the Captain of that Host that hath no peere nor match,
    Dooth leave his standing last of all within that heavly watch.
    Now when his Father sawe the worlde thus glister red and trim,
    And that his waning sistres hornes began to waxen dim,
    He had the fetherfooted howres go harnesse in his horse.

    I think this is a fair sample of Golding’s work, neither the best nor the
    worst. As an attempt to put Ovid into the English tongue this is not at
    all bad, and though it lack’s Ovid’s “pleasant style” it is not without
    charm, though nobody except an Ogburn would suspect that its author was
    capable of writing Shakespeare’s works.

    Golding’s translation is some 14,500 lines long, but there is not much of
    a learning curve. The translator’s apparent skills in Latin and poetry
    neither advance nor retreat throughout the 15 books of the
    *Metamorphoses*, which is what we should expect from a mature and
    experienced craftsman like Golding. If, on the other hand, a 14-year-old
    boy had begun the work, we should expect some development in style or
    versification, but there is none. Ah, but according to Ogburn and
    associates, this is not just any 14-year-old boy, but the lad who will
    grow up to write Shakespeare’s plays–yet it is simply inconceivable that
    Shakespeare’s development would have come to a halt for 14,500 consecutive
    lines, which is about the length of five of Shakespeare’s plays.

    > Some of this same piquancy shows up in Venus and Adonis, A Midsummer
    > Night’s Dream, etc. I can see Oxford at 13-14 testing himself by
    > translating Metamorphoses, 25-30 years later revisiting it and
    > incorporating it in his poems and plays attributed to William
    > Shakespeare today.

    What an Oxfordian “can see” is not always a reasonable basis for stealing
    a work from one writer and giving it to another. Oxfordians have been
    “seeing” things for years, but their hallucinations should not take the
    place of reasoned argument. The “piquancy” that one may find in Golding’s
    Ovid also appears elsewhere in Golding — of course, you will not learn
    this from Ogburn or any other Oxfordian; you will have to take the very
    un-Oxfordian step of actually reading Golding.

    Here are a few paragraphs from Golding’s translation of Solinus’s
    *Collectanea* (*The Excellent and Pleasant Works of Iulius Solinus

    “Megasthenes saith, that in divers mountains in Inde are nations that have
    hands like dogs, armed with talents, clad in hides, having no likelihood
    of man’s speech, but uttering a noise of barking, with rough chaps. We
    read in Ctesias that certain women bear child but once, and the babes as
    soon as they be born, become by and by gray-headed; and that there is
    again another nation which in their youth are hoar-headed, and were black
    in their age, which endureth far beyond the race of our peers. We read
    also of a people called Monoscelans, born there with one leg apiece, of
    singular swiftness: who when they will defend themselves from the heat,
    lay themselves down upon their backs and shadow them with the largeness of
    their feet.

    “They that dwell at the fountains of Ganges need no manner of victuals to
    feed upon. They live by the scent of stubfruit and crabs, and when they
    have any long journey to go, they carry the same with them for their bate,
    to refresh themselves with the smell of them. And if it happen them to
    take any corrupt air, certain it is that they die of it. There is
    reported also to be a nation of women which bear children at five years of
    age, but their life endureth not above eight. There are that want heads,
    and have their eyes in their shoulders. There are also wild men,
    rough-skinned, toothed like dogs, and that make a terrible gnarring. But
    among them that have some more care to live according to reason, many
    women are married to one man, and when the husband is deceased, each of
    them pleadeth before most grave judges concerning her deserts, and she
    that by the sentence of the judges is deemed to have been more dutiful and
    serviceable than the rest receiveth this reward of her victory: that at
    her pleasure she may leap into the fire where her husband is a-burning,
    and offer herself as a sacrifice upon his hearse; the rest live with


    Solinus, of course, is not Ovid — but neither is he Calvin, yet Golding
    saw fit to translate his odd volume of geography and tall tales. I don’t
    see any sign that the author of this passage — or the rest of this
    translation of Solinus — was anyone but Golding, whose translation was
    done “for the benefit and recreation of all sorts of persons,” as he says
    on the title page.

    Consider the line from his Solinus, “They live by the scent of stubfruit
    and crabs.” “Crabs,” of course, is crabapples, but what are “stubfruit”?
    The word does not appear in the OED, but we would not be surprised to see
    it in Golding’s Ovid. What many people find distinctively attractive
    about his Ovid is the extent to which he “Englished” his source. See also
    the “rough chaps” and “terrible gnarring” in the above excerpt. See also
    this description of a peculiar habit of the beaver (warning: Oxfordians
    may not find this passage sufficiently respectable):

    “His stones are greatly coveted for the medicinableness of them, and
    therefore when he findeth himself put to the pinch, he biteth off his own
    cods, and eateth them up, to the intent men should have no good of them
    when he is taken.”

    Or see this description of how the Hyrcans kill panthers:

    “But the Hyrcans (as man’s nature is ever full of devices) kill them more
    commonly with poison than with weapon. They steep flesh in the juice of
    lybardbane [Golding’s marginal note tells us “this herb is also called
    wolfwort”], and cast it in the ways where divers paths meet: the which as
    soon as the panthers have eaten, by and by their throats are troubled with
    the squince, and therefore the weed is called in Greek Pardalianches.”

    Golding’s use of “wolfwort” came a generation before the first instance
    cited in the OED; in *Metamorphoses* he probably would have worked such a
    gloss into a line, but here he puts the note in the margin. “Squince” and
    “lybardbane” (an old form of “leopard’s bane”) are hardly standard
    translations from the Latin but reflect the same approach to “Englishing”
    that makes his Ovid so lively.

    Can anybody find such “piquancy” in any of Oxford’s literary works?


    In one of my old Golding go-rounds, I discussed some of the elements of
    his verse that make his writing very different from anything we find in
    Oxford’s own writings:

    To a reader who has never read fourteeners, perhaps Golding’s verse seems
    very much like Oxford because ALL poetry in that meter may sound alike.
    This can also happen, by the way, to a reader who has read too much verse
    in this form.

    Here are three specimens of fourteeners whose authors are not in doubt.
    The first is by George Gascoigne (even B. M. Ward and Ruth Loyd Miller,
    who wish to give Oxford some of Gascoigne’s poems, agree that Gascoigne
    wrote this one); the second by Oxford; and the third by Golding (even
    Ogburn believes that Golding wrote the epistle to Golding’s translation of
    the *Metamorphoses*).

    The poems by Gascoigne and Oxford are, we could probably agree, much more
    interesting than Golding’s, but that is not the point today. We have no
    poetry that Oxford wrote in his teens, but the quoted poem appeared when
    he was in him mid-twenties, which is as close as we can get. Gascoigne’s
    poem appeared at about the same time.

    Like most fourteener poets, Oxford composed his sentences in lines and
    couplets: no sentence ended anywhere but at the end of a couplet; In
    Golding’s translation there was a much looser correspondence of syntactic
    structure to metrical structure. Oxford’s verse was considerably more
    alliterative than Golding’s. Oxford inevitably used a medial pause after
    the 8th syllable; Golding’s pauses were much more variable. Here now are
    the three samples. Things to look for in reading: to what extent are
    lines and couplets sytactic units? How often are the strongest medial
    pauses some place other than just after the 8th syllable? How much
    alliteration does the poet use? I will also give another rough test:
    whose verse reads most like prose?

    1. “Gascoigne’s Good Night”

    When thou hast spent the ling’ring day in pleasure and delight,
    Or after toil and weary way, dost seek to rest at night:
    Unto thy pains or pleasures past, add this one labor yet,
    Ere sleep close up thine eye too fast, do not thy God forget,
    But search within thy secret thoughts what deeds did thee befall:
    And if thou find amiss in ought, to God for mercy call.
    Yet though thou find nothing amiss, which thou canst call to mind,
    Yet ever more remember this, there is the more behind:
    And think how well so ever it be, that thou hast spent the day,
    It came of God, and not of thee, so to direct thy way.
    Thus if thou try thy daily deeds, and pleasure in this pain,
    Thy life shall cleanse thy corn from weeds, and thine shall be the gain:
    But if thy sinful sluggish eye, will venture for to wink,
    Before thy wading will may try, how far thy soul may sink,
    Beware and wake, for else thy bed, which soft and smooth is made,
    May heap more harm upon thy head, then blows of enmies blade.
    Thus if this pain procure thine ease, in bed as thou dost lie,
    Perhaps it shall not God displease, to sing thus soberly:
    I see that sleep is lent me here, to ease my weary bones,
    As death at last shall eke appear, to ease my grievous groans.
    My daily sports, my paunch full fed, have caused my drowsy eye,
    As careless life in quiet led, might cause my soul to die:
    The stretching arms, the yawning breath, which I to bedward use,
    Are patterns of the pangs of death, when life will me refuse:
    And of my bed each sundry part in shadows doth resemble,
    The sundry shapes of death, whose dart shall make my flesh to tremble.
    My bed itself is like the grave, my sheets the winding sheet,
    My clothes the mould which I must have, to cover me most meet:
    The hungry fleas which frisk so fresh, to worms I can compare,
    Which greedily shall gnaw my flesh, and leave the bones full bare:
    The waking Cock that early crows to wear the night away,
    Puts in my mind the trump that blows before the latter day.
    And as I rise up lustily, when sluggish sleep is past,
    So hope I to rise joyfully, to Judgment at the last.
    Thus will I wake, thus will I sleep, thus will I hope to rise,
    Thus will I neither wail nor weep, but sing in goodly wise.
    My bones shall in this bed remain, my soul in God shall trust,
    By whom I hope to rise again from death and earthly dust.


    2. from the Epistle to Golding’s Ovid

    Four kind of things in this his work the Poet doth contain.
    That nothing under heaven doth aye in steadfast state remain.
    And next that nothing perisheth: but that each substance takes
    Another shape than that it had. Of these two points he makes
    The proof by shewing through his works the wonderful exchange
    Of Gods, men, beasts, and elements, to sundry shapes right strange,
    Beginning with creation of the world, and man of slime,
    And so proceeding with the turns that happened till his time.
    Then sheweth he the souls of man from dying to be free,
    By samples of the noblemen, who for their virtues be
    Accounted and canonized for Gods by heathen men,
    And by the pains of Limbo lake, and blissful state again
    Of spirits in th’ Elysian fields. And though that of these three
    He make discourse dispersedly: yit specially they be
    Discussed in the latter book in that oration where
    He bringeth in Pythagoras dissuading men from fear
    Of death, and preaching abstinence from flesh of living things.
    But as for that opinion which Pythagoras there brings
    Of souls removing out of beasts to men, and out of men
    To birds and beasts both wild and tame, both to and fro again:
    It is not to be understand of that same soul whereby
    We are endowed with reason and discretion from on high:
    But of that soul or life the which brute beasts as well as we
    Enjoy. Three sorts of life or soul (for so they termed be)
    Are found in things. The first gives power to thrive, encrease and grow,
    And this in senseless herbs and trees and shrubs itself doth show.


    3. “Framed in the front of forlorn hope” by Oxford

    Framed in the front of forlorn hope, past all recovery,
    I stayless stand t’abide the shock of shame and infamy.
    My life, through ling’ring long is lodged, in lair of loathsome ways,
    My death delayed to keep from life, the harm of hapless days;
    My sprites, my heart, my wit and force, in deep distress are drowned,
    The only loss of my good name, is of these griefs the ground.

    And since my mind, my wit, my head, my voice and tongue are weak,
    To utter, move, devise, conceive, sound forth, declare and speak,
    Such piercing plaints, as answer might, or would my woeful case,
    Help, crave I must, and crave I will, with tears upon my face:
    Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found,
    To wail with me this loss of mine, as of these griefs the ground.

    Help gods, help saints, help sprites and powers, that in the heaven do
    Help ye that are to wail aye wont, ye howling hounds of hell;
    Help man, help beasts, help birds and worms, that on the earth do toil,
    Help fish, help fowl, that flocks and feeds upon the salt sea soil;
    Help echo that in air doth flee, shrill voices to resound,
    To wail this loss of my good name, as of these griefs the ground.


    To what extent are lines and couplets sytactic units? In Gascoigne,
    periods and colons occur only at the ends of lines, and with one
    exception, only at the ends of couplets (there is a colon at the end of
    line 5). We can repunctuate the poem according to modern standards, but
    we will still find that sentences correspond exactly to a couplet or set
    of couplets. Oxford’s poem is written in 6-line stanzas; periods, colons,
    and semicolons are only found at the end of couplets. Again, if we
    repunctuate the line by modern standards, we will still find that all
    sentences correspond to couplets or sets of couplets. With Golding, of
    the nine sentences in the passage, only three terminate at the end of a
    couplet. Two sentences end after the first line of a couplet, and four
    end in the middle of a line. Of the four colons in the passage, two occur
    at the end of a couplet while two occur mid-line. Even if we repunctuate
    the lines, we will find that Golding’s sentences often (and Gascoigne’s
    and Oxford’s never) end in the middle of a line. We will find the same
    thing happening on almost every page of Golding’s translation, which
    suggests that this idiosyncratic violation of fourteener norms is more
    “typical” of both Golding the author of the translation and Golding the
    author of the epistle than it is of either Gascoigne or Oxford.

    How often are the strongest medial pauses some place other than just after
    the 8th syllable? We expect a medial pause after the 8th syllable in a
    line of fourteeners. We can find this pause in every one of Oxford’s
    lines (though one or two may be debatable); there is one exception in
    Gascoigne’s 38 lines:

    The sundry shapes of death, whose dart shall make my flesh to tremble.

    Golding violates this expectation 9 times in 26 lines, placing the
    strongest pauses in various lines after the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, or
    11th syllables. Once again, the practice of Golding in the epistle to the
    translation is more “typical” of what we see in the translation itself
    than what we see in Gascoigne or Oxford.

    How much alliteration does the poet use? Golding uses alliteration, but
    not as much as Gascoigne; while Oxford uses it much more than either of
    them: “My life, through ling’ring long is lodged, in lair of loathsome
    ways.” I know of no line in Golding where six stressed syllables begin
    with the same sound. We commonly find two and often three such syllables
    in a line, and rarely four, but not six. I don’t think there is any
    stretch of 18 lines anywhere in the translation that is as alliterative as
    Oxford’s poem. Again, Golding’s practice is more “typical” of that used
    by the translator of Golding’s Ovid than that of Oxford.

    Whose verse reads most like prose? This is a rough and ready test: if we
    set the passages as prose, how easy is it to tell where the lines of verse
    begin and end? All three passages are in rhyming fourteener couplets, so
    it should be very easy to pick out the lines, but it turns out to be
    noticeably harder with Golding than with Gascoigne or Oxford. One reason
    for this difficulty is that Golding uses run-on lines (and even run-on
    couplets) in ways that Gascoigne, Oxford, and other polished users of
    fourteeners at this time would not have. He ends many lines with such
    words as prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs that are immediately
    followed in the beginning of the next line by the main verb, and
    nominative pronouns that are immediately followed in the beginning of the
    next line by a verb. These are words that we expect to see at the
    beginning of a syntactical unit, not at the end, and thus we would expect
    to see them beginning rather than ending fourteener lines.

    Thus in the quoted passage we have such surprising run-ons as one line
    ending in “be” while the next begins “Accounted”; Oxford would not spread
    the verbal phrase “be accounted” over two lines. We also find in the
    passage such run-ons as “be/Discussed,” “where/He,” “whereby/We,” and
    “we/Enjoy.” There is none of this in Gascoigne’s or Oxford’s poems, but we
    find this peculiarity throughout Golding’s epistle and also throughout the
    translation itself.

    As a result, Golding’s verse is much more like prose than that of
    Gascoigne or Oxford. Even though the verse is rhymed and heavily iambic,
    it is not easy to spot the line breaks in this passage if we remove the
    capital letters that begin each line and set Golding’s words as prose

    “And though that of these three he make discourse dispersedly: yit
    specially they be discussed in the latter book in that oration where he
    bringeth in Pythagoras dissuading men from fear of death, and preaching
    abstinence from flesh of living things. But as for that opinion which
    Pythagoras there brings of souls removing out of beasts to men, and out of
    men to birds and beasts both wild and tame, both to and fro again: it is
    not to be understand of that same soul whereby we are endowed with reason
    and discretion from on high: but of that soul or life the which brute
    beasts as well as we enjoy.”

    Oxford’s lines are much easier to spot if we set his sentences as prose:

    “Framed in the front of forlorn hope, past all recovery, I stayless stand
    t’abide the shock of shame and infamy. My life, through ling’ring long is
    lodged, in lair of loathsome ways, my death delayed to keep from life, the
    harm of hapless days; my sprites, my heart, my wit and force, in deep
    distress are drowned, the only loss of my good name, is of these griefs
    the ground.”

    as are Gascoigne’s:

    “Thus if thou try thy daily deeds, and pleasure in this pain, thy life
    shall cleanse thy corn from weeds, and thine shall be the gain: but if thy
    sinful sluggish eye, will venture for to wink, before thy wading will may
    try, how far thy soul may sink, beware and wake, for else thy bed, which
    soft and smooth is made, may heap more harm upon thy head, then blows of
    enmies blade.”

    Here is a passage from book 9 of Golding’s Ovid set as prose. Again, even
    though the lines are rhymed, and Golding is forced into inversions to
    place the rhymes where he wants them, the line breaks are much harder to
    spot than in Gascoigne or Oxford:

    “He said no more but thus: My hand doth serve me better than my tongue.
    Content I am (so I in fighting vanquish can) that thou shalt overcome in
    words. And therewithall he gan me fiercely to assail. Methought it was a
    shame for me that had even now so stoutly talked, in doings faint to be. I
    casting off my greenish cloak thrust stiffly out at length mine arms and
    strained my pawing arms to hold him out by strength, and framed every limb
    to cope. With both his hollow hands he caught up dust and sprinkled me:
    and I likewise with sands made him all yellow too.”

    We have identified four features distinguishing Golding’s verse from
    typical fourteeners of the period (if we may consider such poets as
    Gascoigne and Oxford typical). Golding’s sentences are much less securely
    wedded to lines and couplets than was the norm; Golding very often places
    mid-line pauses elsewhere than after the 8th syllable of the line; Golding
    is less alliterative; Golding ends lines with words that we expect at the
    beginning rather than the end of syntactic units. As a result, if we set
    his verse as prose, it seems much more like prose than the verse of Oxford
    and Gascoigne. We find these features both in Golding’s epistle (which
    even Oxfordians concede that he wrote) and in the translation (which
    Oxfordians alone in all the world would attribute to Oxford), but not in
    Oxford’s fourteener verse.

    Given that Golding is credited with the work in each edition (and Oxford
    never), and that contemporaries credited Golding (and never Oxford) with
    the work, and that Golding has other translations of classical Latin to
    his credit (Oxford has none), and that nobody seems to have doubted the
    attribution until Ogburn’s mother had her mysterious inspiration, and
    given that Ogburn’s “case” seems based on an almost total ignorance of the
    work combined with an overactive imagination, and given that to this day
    no Oxfordian has made a better “case” than Ogburn’s (though a weaker one
    cannot be imagined), I see no reason to doubt the traditional attribution.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Ken. I haven’t had time to absorb it all but will do so. Much appreciated. Hank

  5. I appreciate it Hank. First I firmly am in the “reasonable doubt” camp. Second I admire your thorough job in demonstrating the links between Oxford and Shakespeare. I also firmly believe there is a strong relationship of some kind between the two that Stratfordia is negligent, to put it kindly, in exploring due to their hysteria.

    But I remember Roger Stritmatter telling me often that although traditionalists are garbage when it comes to the biography, they are very good at the literary analysis side of things. Thus we have to match them, which Roger and Lynne did very well with the Tempest. Ramon Jimenez’s look at the relationship between Famous Victories and Henry V was excellent.

    Thus I always wish us to be thorough.


  6. P.S. “Garbage” is my term, not Roger’s. He was more kind.

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