The Prince Tudor Aspect of “Famous Victories”: Part Two of Reason No. 60 to Believe Oxford = “Shakespeare”

Another aspect of The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth is the way it fits into the Southampton Prince Tudor (PT) theory that Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton was the natural son of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth I of England.  In the view of this theory from here, Southampton would have been born in May or June 1574.

"The Case for Shakespeare's Authorship of 'The Famous Victories' by S.M. Pitcher, 1961

“The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of ‘The Famous Victories'” by Pitcher, 1961

And in that context, if in fact Famous Victories was presented before the Queen during the Christmas season of 1574, some major aspects of the play are both explained and transformed.

This context immediately explains the prominence in Famous Victories of the Eleventh Earl of Oxford (1385-1487), while it also explains the constant and repetitive and even obsessive references to Hal, the future King Henry V of England, as “the young prince.”

The Prince Tudor theory (as developed in the 1950s, principally by Dorothy Ogburn in This Star of England) holds that almost immediately after Elizabeth gave birth to a son in May or June 1574, she had him hidden away (eventually to be raised in the Southampton household):

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)

And what if Oxford wrote the play to remind Elizabeth that she had a royal child, an heir of her blood to succeed her, and to warn her not to abandon this unacknowledged young prince?  What if he wanted to lessen her fears, while reminding her that very possibly her son would grow into a great monarch like Henry the Fifth?  If so, he might well have created Famous Victories for the Queen in 1574, when he was twenty-four.

Kenneth Branaugh as Henry the Fifth

Kenneth Branaugh as Henry the Fifth

The play (printed first in 1598 but written decades earlier) presents King Henry IV as the sitting monarch, with whom Queen Elizabeth would identify.  Also she would view the king’s son, Prince Hal, as her own son, the future third Earl of Southampton.  And, of course, she would see the Earl of Oxford as Edward de Vere himself.

Oxford: If it please your Grace, here is my lord your son that cometh to speak with you.  He saith he must, and will, speak with you.

King: Who?  My son Harry?

Oxford: Ay, if it please your Majesty…

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, knowing of Elizabeth’s fear that any natural heir would pose a threat to her, depicts Prince Hal coming upon the King with a dagger in his hand, intending to kill him.  When the King sees this, he is overcome with fear and grief:

King: Come, my son; come on, in God’s name!  I know wherefore thy coming is.  Oh, my son, my son!  What cause hath ever been that thou shouldst forsake me … Oh, my son, thou knowest that these doings will end thy father’s days … I tell thee, my son, that there is never a needle in thy cloak but it is a prick to my heart, and never an eyelet-hole but it is a hole to my soul; and wherefore thou bringest that dagger in thy hand I know not, but by conjecture.

But then young Prince Hal undergoes an instant turnaround:

Prince: [Aside] My conscience accuseth me.  [To the King] Most sovereign lord, and well-beloved father, to answer first to the last point, that is, whereas you conjecture that this hand and this dagger shall be armed against your life, no!  Know, my beloved father, far be the thoughts of your son – “son,” said I?  An unworthy son for so good a father! But far be the thoughts of any such pretended mischief.  And I most humbly render it [Giving him the dagger, kneeling] to your Majesty’s hand.  And live, my lord and sovereign, for ever! … “

This speech goes on and on in the same vein, with the Prince begging over and over for the King’s mercy and pardon, while pledging his loyalty even above his life.  If this is indeed intended for Elizabeth, we can imagine her now leaning forward to hear the King’s response, which is what Oxford hopes would be her response as well:

King: Stand up, my son; and do not think thy father but at the request of thee, my son, I will pardon thee.  And God bless thee, and make thee his servant.

Prince: Thanks, good my lord.  And no doubt but this day, even this day, I am born new again.

Oxford has symbolically presented the Queen’s own son on the stage, making him “born new again” as if replaying the birth of Elizabeth’s own son several months earlier.

But when the King falls asleep, Prince Hal believes that he’s dead; and assuming that he is now the new monarch, he removes the crown from his father’s head and exits.  Here, right on the stage in front of her, is Queen Elizabeth’s worst nightmare!  And when the King wakes up and feels his head, he blurts out, “The crown taken away!  Good my Lord of Oxford, go see who hath done this deed!”

In other words, Edward de Vere is telling Elizabeth that he’s the one upon whom she can rely, to make sure the crown is not taken from her (by their son) before she dies.  And sure enough, Lord Oxford returns with Hal, saying, “Here, if it please your Grace, is my lord the young Prince with the crown.”

If the Queen had given birth to Oxford’s own son, her argument would have been precisely that she should never acknowledge him, because he would try to take her crown before she died – perhaps while she was old and dying.  And if she had made that argument to Oxford, well, then, here was his answer in return, in Famous Victories – “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you!”

An extraordinary aspect of this play is that the King, representing Elizabeth, actually goes on to hand over the crown to the young Prince:  “But come near, my son, and let me put thee in possession whilst I live, that none deprive thee of it after my death.”  And the Prince, taking the crown, replies:  “Well may I take it at your Majesty’s hands – but it shall never touch my head so long as you live.” 

In this way Oxford has used the stage hoping to “catch the conscience” of the Queen, even to the point of showing that she could acknowledge their own son without fear.  And the monarch of the play tells the Earl of Oxford that “my son will be as warlike and victorious a prince as ever reigned in England.”

And indeed the Queen will now watch the youthful Prince Hal growing into the mature King Henry the Fifth who leads his English nation to glory.

When it comes time for Oxford to expand Famous Victories into 1 & 2 Henry IV and Henry V as by Shakespeare, he will no longer represent himself in the character of his ancestor the eleventh Earl of Oxford (who disappears completely).  Instead, Oxford will create the full fictional character of Sir John Falstaff to represent himself on stage, so that it’s Falstaff [Oxford] who becomes the “father” of Hal [Southampton]; and in 1 Henry IV they play-act by reversing the father-son roles:

PRINCE   Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and   I’ll play my father.
FALSTAFF   Depose me? If thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically,   both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker or a   poulter’s hare.
PRINCE   Well, here I am set.
FALSTAFF   And here I stand: judge, my masters.
PRINCE   Now, Harry, whence come you?
FALSTAFF   My noble lord, from Eastcheap.
PRINCE   The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.
FALSTAFF   ‘Sblood, my lord, they are false…
PRINCE   Swearest thou, ungracious boy? Henceforth ne’er look on   me.

The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth is transformed when viewed as Oxford’s allegorical plea to Queen Elizabeth to recognize their son so she will have an heir of her blood to succeed her.  If such was the case, it would be difficult to find any greater personal motivation to write not only the early play but, later, the Henry IV and Henry V trilogy as well.

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  1. Whittemore, I’m curious. I started to believe in Prince Tudor Theory after read about Hester Dowden confirmed that Shakespeare’s plays were wrote by Oxford (great number of them) and revised by a group created and led by the Earl himself. As well, the Earl were one of Elizabeth’s lovers and sired with her the Earl of Southampton (remember that Dowden confirmed too that the Queen was mother of Francis Bacon and Essex with Robert Dudley and many other children).
    I am convinced that the plays were wrote during the 70′ and 80′ of the 16th century by Oxford and revised by his secret circle of writers under the pseudonym “Will. Shake-Speare”. I am convinced with Prince Tudor Theory Part II.
    Percy Allen wrote in 1947 what he did find with Dowden and said that Wriothesley was born to Elizabeth and Oxford in 1575.
    I think that Wriothesley born in January 6th, 1575 (because of the title of the play “Twelfth Night”). But I ask myself manytimes if I am wrong and Wriothesley did really born in the Spring or Summer of 1574. What do you think?

    • I know the other suggestions but to me the May or probably June 1574 date is more likely. One reason is that two or three months after the birth would have taken place, in August 1574, the Queen visited Bath for three days (the only such royal visit in the reign), and, like Percy Allen, I believe the Bath sonnets 153-154 correspond to that visit, which Oxford apparently attended. The sonnets are an allegorical representation of the situation, which is that the Queen has refused to acknowledge the boy, at this time.
      Another reason I think the 1574 date is correct, which came later, is that it seems the first 26 sonnets are placed there to represent Southampton’s first 26 birthdays; it began with 17 for 17; and that would cover the twenty-six years from 1574 to 1600, the year before the Rebellion failure which begins the 100-sonnet center starting with Sonnet 27. So the arithmetic works as well, and the sonnets are a “monument” of Southampton containing and representing “the living record” of him.

      • Well, Whittemore, seeing with such point I have to thank you. You’re solving all mysteries that were around the Sonnets and you’re finding proves that make the PT Theory more true. I have to thank you and all your wit.
        You’re view that Oxford use “Love”, “Beauty”, “Grace”, “Black” and etc. as synonyms to “Royal Blood/Right to inherit the Crown”, “Royal Aspect”, “Bastardy/Royal House’s Disgrace” just give to the Sonnets more sense. Yet, I ask to you in what the Sonnet 129 (that talk about sex and lust) have to do with Essex Execution? Or do you think “Lust” here have a more “secret” meaning, like “Cupid” and the “Virgin Hand” had in 153-154 Sonnets?

      • Thanks for the comment and questions. It appears that the twenty-six so-called dark lady sonnets 127-152, to and about Queen Elizabeth, correspond with the time of Southampton’s imprisonment from 127 on 8 Feb 1601 to 152 on the Queen’s death on March 24, 1603. (Two sonnets, 138 and 144, were written earlier and published in 1599, but Oxford must have placed them in this series, slightly but significantly revised, because they do fit in regardless of when originally written.) A marker within the series is Sonnet 145, irregular in form, which is Oxford’s response to the sparing of Southampton’s life, in parallel with Sonnet 67. [I had thought that the ‘suicide note’ of sonnet 66 was his response to the sparing of Southampton’s life, but see now it must have been 67.)

        Which brings us to Sonnet 129, when Oxford is still desperately trying to convince the Queen to spare Southampton from execution. He is saying that if she kills her son and heir she will be wasting his “spirit” or blood, which had been part of the semen. If she kills her son, who had been conceived by means of sexual intercourse, it would turn that sexual act into one of sheer lust without any other meaning. He is speaking of the conception and birth of a prince or king, her successor by blood. It’s an act of self-destruction on her part if she executes him. In this light it becomes an amazing little poem and can/will be studied for generations.

  2. Hank, as John M. Shahan wrote to me -and you surely know it as well- even Oxfordians (a considerable part of them at least) don’t believe in the Prince Tudor theory. Do you think, that without any solid proof, official document, etc. they and the world will finally believe what you and I and many other people believe? That Southampton was Oxford’s and the Queen’s son? What is your hope on this way?

    • My hope is that increasing numbers will see that the Sonnets comprise a unified masterwork with a 100-sonnet center that is a chronicle of the time from Sonnet 27 upon the failed Essex Rebellion and Southampton’s imprisonment on 8 Feb 1601 until the Queen’s death and Southampton’s release and finally Sonnet 125 upon Elizabeth’s funeral on 28 April 1603 and the “envoy” of Sonnet 126. This is the heart of the matter and explains why Oxford had to glue the mask of “Shakespeare” to his face — that is, he sacrificed himself for Southampton, and this is the answer to the authorship question, given to us by the author himself.

      I don’t expect the anti-PT folks to change their views. If they do, fine, but I don’t expect it. By the same token I don’t expect Stratfordian scholars to become Oxfordians. It will take another generation, at least.

      Meanwhile folks like you can actually experience the enjoyment of having a viewpoint that amounts to a comprehensive explanation, and that continues to yield new evidence in its support and evidence that enlightens and deepens understanding. And allows you and me and others to come up with new insights, large and small, which you are already doing.

      So have fun and not to worry about others:-)

      • OK Hank, let’s think on 🙂
        I have a problem, Hank. In Sonnet 65 there’s a line, about which I have an idea which substantially differs from yours. I’m curious if you regard it worth to consider at least.
        ‘Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back’
        For about two weeks I can’t escape the thought that if he wrote ‘his’ then he actually ment ‘his’: But who is he, then? Who is spoiling Southampton’s life – in the next line? And suddenly came the vision: Robert Cecil. And actually, as I try to imagine his swaying movement, one foot ‘swaying’ forth faster than the other one – a kind of tongue-in-the-cheek expression maybe. As you can remember, you were really generous to accept my idea in this Sonnet about “o’versways”. I can imagine that de Vere in these line(s) again did try to ‘kill’ Robert Cecil with his pen. And even the word ‘back’ might refer to his (hunch)back.
        As I can see, you didn’t write about ‘hold his swift foot back’ any explanation, and now I think that what I’ve written is a possible version. I’m eager to hear from you 🙂

      • Yes, I think you’ve added something important here. Time and time’s hand as masculine is in many of the sonnets, so that is the primary meaning (on the surface), but in this particular sequence Cecil is very much a factor, as you have noted. Congratulations. It’s definitely something that Oxford intended.

  3. Reading, Whittemore, about you’re opinion that Sonnet 129 is about Elizabeth refusing to spare her bastard son, well, I now believe and you can be right. In this sonnet, Lust killed “a joy proposed behind a dream” in the 12th line. I think this dream is the same that appear in Sonnet 87 (“In DREAMS a KING…”) and that the joy is royal hope of Southampton inherit the Crown (“And your true rights [to be king] be term’d a poet’s [Oxford’s] rage” – Sonnet 19). Now I believe that Oxford, in this sonnet, wanted to remeber Elizabeth about their affair and the love child that borne from it and deserves to be her heir. They lost the shame and make their love a lascivious affair. From it, did borne Henry but now that same lust that make him a bastard is now departing is from the throne, destroying all royal hope for the continuation of the Tudor’s beacause none bastard deserve a throne (thought Elizabeth herself was considered a bastard). But like the bastardy was not enough, the Essex Rebellion have failed and now Henry can die because of Treason. All the men and women knows this (the affair of Oxford and Elizabeth was make popular through gossips in the Court during 1573-1575), but yet, no one knows well (that the affair originate a child that deserve the Crown and know that same child/bastard/prince is imprisioned) and, at this ignorance, they shun the heaven (start to believe that Tudor Dinasty is coming to and end and also the Golden Age) and all they comes to this hell (political disorder after Elizabeth’s Death or the rise of James Stuart and his Dinasty)

    • Francisco, this is very good and I agree. It is the dream of 87, as you say, and also Bottom’s dream in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

      Also the conception of Southampton was a good thing, it was intended, deliberate; but to destroy him and destroy the dynasty is tantamount to turning it all into “lust in action.”

      Thanks. You are looking through a window and having a very rare view of the power of this sonnet, and of the others, that few at this time are able to share.

      • Now the Dark Lady Sonnets are clear to me:

        Sonnet 127 – Essex Execution. His Rebellion failed and the Tudor Crown (“Beauty”) is disgraced (“Black Beauty’s […] heir”) with Essex’s fall (“A batard shame” is a clear pun on “a bastard’S shame”). Elizabeth (“Nature”) is weak and old and Cecil is taking power over her (“each hand hath […] nature’s power”). He will make James, that is not a Tudor (“not born fair”), conquer the throne beceause he is the most clear heir (“no beauty lack”). Elizabeth (now “My mistress”) have her eyes mourning in regreet the death of Essex and she will let Cecil have his way. But then, when England (or Cecil) see that mourning black, will say that Tudor throne is of the Tudors forever (“That every tongue says beauty should look so”).

        Sonnet 128 – Elizabeth falls in a deep depression. What is happening in this sonnet is historical truth. After Essex’s Execution, Elizabeth start to disdained food and waste her days in the dark of her chamber, playing in her virginal sad musics. In this sonnet, Oxford is trying to convice Elizabeth that, as Essex is already dead, she don’t kill Southampton or she may fell more sad. The sonnet doesn’t say this directly, but the “lips to kiss” are to remeber Elizabeth of her times when she was Oxford’s mistress and gave him everything he wanted. He want that grace again. That the “kiss”;

        Sonnet 129 – The “kiss”/grace was not consented. Oxford then remember Elizabeth the end of the affar between them but too that such affair had a fruit that can save the Tudor Dinasty and England from James’ and the traitor Cecil’s greed. But she is destroying such hope of salvation;

        Sonnet 130 – Oxford recalls to his own memory the golden times of his love with Elizabeth with the same ambition of sonnet 128. He will try to conquer her grace one more time;

        Sonnet 131 – It is too late. Elizabeth will not forgive Southampton, influenced by Cecil. She is no more a queen but a tyrant (“Thou art as tyrannous”) and she inherit the cruelty and injustice of her father Henry VIII (“As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel” – like those who abuse of their royal power, like Henry VIII). People say that she is too old (“some say, that thee behold”) and inocent so she will not hurt Southampton (“hat not the pow’r to make LOVE groan” – Love, here, is Southampton). But there as gossips about her mental illness but Oxford don’t believe and she think is all but royal abuse influenced bu Cecil (“do witness beart […] thy black is fairest in my judgement’s place”). So, she is not so black like Oxford make in Sonnet 130 but recalling the young Queen and that she is black only in her soul (“thou black […] in thy deeds”) because of her reaction of planing to execute Southampton as she did with Essex (“And thence this SLANDER – the same “slander” that profaned beauty and creation in Sonnet 127);

        Sonnet 132 – Now, Oxford admits that Elizabeth still mourning Essex’s death and he idly think that she is like that because of his torture in knowing their son will be executed. Her black mourning eyes are nothing compare with the stars of evening and morning (here’s the pun). Begin they sad, he want her to let their pity moving her heart. Maybe then she will pity Oxford and, therefore, Southampton (they are one, like Oxford says in Sonnet 62, Sonnet 42 and many others);

        Sonnets 133, 134, 135 and 136 – Elizabeth is now that sad about Southampton, after all (“that heart that makes my heart to groan”). By torturing one, she tortures the other (“to torture me […] salve […] my sweet’st friend must be?”). Oxford have lost his son and friend and giveup on his authorship on Shake-Speare’s work “(“Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me/He pays the whole and yet am I not free”). She have many men of Essex Rebellion to execute and judge but Oxford wants her to think only in his pain (“Think all but one and me in that one Will”). Until then, he will never assume he is Shakespeare (“for my name is Will”);

        Sonnet 137 – Succumbing to his Queen and ex-mistress’ blackmail is not working. Oxford knows who deserves to be Elizabeth’s heir and that she is no more a pure-of-heart queen (“Thou […] love, what dost thou to mine eyes […] knows what beauty is, see where it lies”).

        Sonnet 138 – Certainly, this is an ancient work. I dated this sonnet to 1575, before Oxford’s voyage to Italy, when he broke his affair with Elizabeth;

        Sonnets 139 and 140 – Oxford will contest the sovereing if necessary because he refuses to justify her black heart (Oh call not me to justify the wrong/that thy unkindness lays upon my heart”). Then, he begs her to do not force him to giveup of his authorship of his only pseudonym that tells the truth about Southampton’s royal blood (“Use pow’er with pow’er and sly me not by art” recalls “And ART tongue-tied by authority” in Sonnet 66);

        Sonnets 141 and 142 – Oxford confess that nothing on Elizabeth makes him fall in love with her again. But this will not make him stop serving her in order to save Southampton /”But my five wits […] dissuade one follish heart from serving thee/Who leaves […] the likeness of a man” – Is this man Southampton, Oxford or both and Father and Son in one?). Making Southampton’s luck as his own is Oxford’s vice and hating Southampton is, therefore, the Queen’s virtue (“LOVE is my sin and thy dear virtue HATE”; here two word we can fond too in one verse in Sonnet 125). But Elizabeth is more disgraced, phisically and mentally, than Oxford and she, by seeing this, she may finally spare and/or make Southampton her heir (“but with mine compare thou thine own state/And thou salt find it merits not reproving). He hopes her royal lips, that have tell him lies during their affair and now (“Lips of thine […] sealed false bonds of love as oft as mine”. Here “love” have not the same “love” of the verse but yes the royal blood and real love. “false bond of love” = Elizabeth in Sonnet 41 make Oxford believe that Southampton would be king; “as of as mine” = Oxford recalls Sonnet 138’s matter and his affair with Vavasour); Then, if she kills Southampton now and in her death-bed she will name an heir, Oxford hopes she will have no son of hers to name (“If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide [her bastard]/By self-example mayst thou be denied”);

        Sonnet 143 – Oxford recalling Elizabeth that she have many wards, like Oxfor himself, and, therefore, she is a legal mother to them. But Southampton is one of such wards and is her biological son and her, she can’t forget him! Oxford hopes that Elizabeth may her his crying and make the “mother’s part” to him (Oxford and Southampton as one person) and he hopes too that she may have a heir to name, but such heir have to be their son (“So will I pray that thou mayst have thy Will/If thou turn back and my loud crying still”);

        Sonnet 144 – I dated this sonnet to 1599, when it was publicated in “The Passionate Pilgrim”. I think it was wrote on Southampton’s prison in this same year (he was in the Fleet Prison with Elizabeth Vernon, one of Queen Elizabeth’s Ladies-in-waiting, because they married each other in secret);

        Sonnet 145 – The moment arrived. Elizabeth spares Southampton of death “saying ‘not you'”;

        Sonnets 146, 147, 148, 149, 150 and 151 – Elizabeth’s death is evident and, thought Southampton is free, she will not make him her heir;

        Sonnet 152 – Elizabeth’s Death. James Stuart will be her heir and Tudor Dinasty is destroyed by now;

        Sonnet 153 and 154 – Oxford remember his son’s birth in August 1574. He talks on Cupid and his fire, that would fill the heart of humans with love, stolen by Diana’s Nymphs = Henry, when he was but a baby, the royal hope of England, hiding from public eye as the Rightful Prince of England, by Elizabeth’s own hand and by the hands of her ladies;

        this is my logic (basead on yours) the Dark Lady’s Sonnets. Sorry my bad english

      • Thanks for sharing this very good work! I am printing out and will take a little time to go through it more carefully, in more detail, but it looks mighty fine.

      • This is truly remarkable work and I congratulate you on it. I have had to keep The Monument beside me to see how I treated certain lines that you treat. Mostly we are on the same page; in some places you have had new insights all your own. Some of the lines now leap up with new power. Just for example – in 131 — “As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel” — Once seen as being spoken to Elizabeth, well, this kind of statement is shocking, I mean, imagine him speaking to his queen this way. That he did so I have no doubt. Interesting take on 138. You may be right about 1575. The couplet of 142, as you highlight it, is also so powerful — “If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,/ By self-example mayst thou be denied.” That word “hide” recalls Sonnet 17 about the verse that “hides your life.” 30 – “Precious friends HID in death’s dateless night” — perfect description of pending execution. 31 – “But things removed that HIDDEN in thee lie.” 34 -“HIDING thy bravery…” The final two Bath sonnets as epilogue apparently serve as prologue.

        Where are you located? Thank you so much for your work on this! I have only touched on some of it, but urge readers to study your comments…

  4. Hi Francisco! As I can see you understand a great deal of the hidden meaning of the Sonnets – on your own, congratulations. I’m sure Hank will not recommend his own book, let me do it me myself: The Monument by Hank Whittemore is an enormously important book, collecting virtually every piece of information available about the Sonnets and the history which would sorround the age of writing them. I recommend it whole-heartidly. It’s a heavy book, perhaps not easy to get it in your country, but it’s worthwhile to invest.

    • Sandy, I’ve tried to buy the book but it’s have been a little difficult. Every similiraties between my logics of the Sonnets and Whittemore’s logic it’s because I have read “The Monument” in mere previews in Google Books. Not “The Gutenberg Project” have the book to read. I will try thought only after Christmas

  5. Thank you Hank, really moving to read your answer.
    Now I have a question again about the hidden meanings: if you find the answer, the question itself is perhaps right. If not, it means I’ve failed in my assumptions.
    What do you think: if Oxford had a chance to hide in the sonnet-lines somehow, who his newly born son is -not the name obviously, but something which would show in the direction of the Earl of Southampton- so then Oxford failed to do so, or did put his mark?

    • Sandy, there have been several impressive suggestions along those lines. These would include “arrays” of letters of the Sonnets dedication, plus anagrams from lines of sonnets, all pointing to Wriothesley, but I have no expertise in that area. The persistence of Southampton’s motto, in different forms, is another matter, and it was noticed long ago in 1859. Of course we’d be interested to learn whatever insights that you have.

  6. OK, I should be more specific 🙂

    What I mean is exactly where he writes about the newly born son.
    ‘My Sonne one early…’

    Here the ‘one’ might come from the motto, while the ‘early’ might refer to the earl: and together it could be translated: ‘my son one earl’

    • Very good, Sandy! Sometimes these things are so obvious that no one sees them:-) I am sure Oxford saw it, and smiled…

  7. If Elizabeth was personificated as a man in this play, as well in “Richard II” and “Cymbeline”, could she be too Julius Caesar in the tragedy of the same name? The Stationer Registers make reference a performance of this play nearly to the end of 1599. Could the Rebellion been conspirated since them and the play was some kind of a prototype of “Richard II” in 1601? The head of state that have his fall by the hand of a greedy (as it is represent in the play) and close adviser and friend is the same matter in “Richard II”. Could Brutus be Cecil and Caesar Elizabeth herself?

  8. Hi Hank,
    I find no better place to thank you for your book, which has given me already two years of entertainment and adventure, and I’m sure lots of years are still ahead 🙂

    I wish you Merry Christmas and I’m proud that I (perhaps) might think of you as my friend.

    All the best: Sandy

    • Wishing you the same, Sandy. Your friend, Hank

  9. Hank,I took your advice and I’ve re-read the sonnets to which Francisco has made valuable comments. Now, as I’ve read Nr. 143 several times over, I have some ideas, which I share with you.
    In the 3rd line ‘…and makes all swift dispatch’ I can see the hidden meaning of : ‘to execute in a hurried way’. As my mother-language is not english, maybe I’m fooled, but from the vocabularies I’ve concluded that it’s a possible meaning.
    In the light of this version, the next line gets a new meaning too:
    ‘in pursuit of the thing she would have stay’
    The real pursuit is not necessarily after the royal blood, but Southampton himself – with the swift dispatch. And this ‘thing’ which she does pursue, if not killed, would stay with them, with his mother Queen.
    And there’s one more thing. In this crucial Sonnet I think I’ve found again Robert Cecil:
    ‘to follow that which flies before her face’
    The Queen blindly follows Cecil, who is blackening Southampton, falsely. That is he lies before the Queen’s face, which is quite similar to ‘flies’. And also, his swaying movement, with the flying sleeve, could one make remember flying.

    • Yes, Sandy. It seems there is no end to the riches that can be found, once the right window is opened. Good going.

  10. Whittemore, responding to your second comment in my comment on my logic of the Dark Lady’s Sonnets, I live in Portugal. Here books like yours are hard to find, specially those like “The Monument” but I am trying very hard to have it 🙂

    • Hi Francisco, your comments are very interesting, you’ve deserved my help 🙂 You shouldn’t think that in Hungary the shelves are full of copies of The Monument. Actually there’s no book-line carrying it – none, nope. So my family, when I’d asked for this book as a present for my 50th birthday, ordered it from the Amazon. And it arrived without any problem. So I think this is the best way for you.

  11. I hope nobody else is dealing with ‘business’ now 🙂 And hopefully just after days will anybody read it.
    But I can’t refrain: one of my gifts was a book, with the 154 Sonnets in english, completely printed on beautiful paper, and binded and hard-covered by my daughter and her boyfriend. I’m moved to tears to receive such a nice and well-thought-out gift. I just read through some important Sonnets, and as a thunderbolt came to me when reading Sonnet 126: what would I do if I had to hide that I’ve written a poem about my son, my child – that is about OUR child? Let’s reverse it: if I would like to conceal that I’m a parent of my son, about whom I’m writing? Probably I would put a sign at the and of the verse, which clearly and unmistakeably, yet in a hidden way would show my intention:
    parent hesis
    parent hesis

    • Just one addition: as 126 is the ‘envoy’, the very last one about his (their) son, the closing couplet might be a signature under the 126 sonnets. He couldn’t write his own name, but could express who he was, and what relation did exist between the ‘actors’ – the TWO parents (the last couple[t] ) and the son.

      • Merry Christmas, Sandy 😀 😀 :D! That a very good theory about the end of Sonnet 126. I have in my possession (a present I received from Christmas of the last year) a book with one of the best translantion of all 154 Sonnets from english to portuguese. And I read them under Whittemore’s logic they all very clear to me but I never understand why the hell were those () in the end of Sonnet 126. That only their existence be a pun on “parents” is a little plausive… or not. I think Sonnet 126 is too something about numbers and puns.

  12. Hi Francisco,
    we’ll never know for sure. But I have exactly the same problem: I don’t really understand the reason. I think it’s an interesting game to find reasons, and then discuss it with the fellow-oxfordians. Very similar is my problem with Sonnet 99: why are there 15 lines in it?
    So, back to 126: maybe Hank will simply and flatly reject this version – he might have several reasons. But it’s a decent thing to be part of this puzzle 🙂 And for me (at least) this is a believable explanation. Oxford worked among killer enemies, he had to be extremely cautious and cunning. Why not hide his (their) identity this way?

    • Gentlemen: Wonderful discussion of the parentheses! I have not yet discovered the use of the word, singular and/or plural, in that time in England. A quick check of the Shakespeare works shows no usage of either parenthesis or parentheses. But Oxford loved words, and loved the parts of words, and, if he knew “parenthesis,” he would have seen “parent” and “the” and “es” for earl Southampton, and so on. He would see the larger overlapping meanings of any given word, also.

      Meanwhile certainly the two empty parentheses serve to indicated the “envoy” and clearly mark it as the end of the fair youth series. I see it as an unfinished sonnet, an unfinished bastard sonnet, at that, reflecting the fact that Southampton’s life is still unfinished. He now goes forth without his majesty, at least here on earth.

      The empty parentheses are also a tomb and a pair of tombs. “Though heaven knows it is but as a tomb which hides your life, and shows not half your parts” – 17, referring to the verse itself, that is, to these sonnets. It is the tomb which is the tomb of his verse — “And thou in this shalt find thy monument/ When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.” – 107. He will crawl into this tomb of verse and fulfill the promises of sonnets 55 and 81.

      [On a side note, do you notice that sonnets 55 and 81 and 107 — the three monument sonnets — are 26 sonnets apart between 55 and 81 and between 81 and 107? And that Southampton spent 26 months in the Tower? Not to mention the two series of 26 sonnets flanking the 100-sonnet center. If sonnet 26 is the other envoy, marking 1600, and we have twenty-six sonnets for twenty-six years, then by this structure Southampton was born in 1574. Sonnet 27 of course begins in 1601, that is, on the night of 8 Feb 1601. Also check out the 1582 Hekatompathia or Passionate century of love by Watson, dedicated to Oxford, and see not only the dedication about numbers, but see that it’s 100 consecutively numbered sonnets and Sonnet 81 is the big one, even by its design, and begins a new series, just as Oxford divides his century into eighty and twenty, and that Sonnet 107 is the 81st sonnet! Surely Oxford was building upon this 1582 structure in which he played an intimately involved role, if not wrote it himself.]

      There are two tombs, one for Oxford himself and one for Southampton, reflecting the “two oaths” that Elizabeth broke, in his final words to her in Sonnet 152.

      They are also the “womb” for Southampton, enabling his growth (“who hast by waning grown” of that same verse, 126); “making there tomb the womb wherein they grew” – sonnet 86.

      All these are conjectures adding to your discussion. All worthwhile ideas to be added into this mix. Perhaps we shall stumble upon something amazing…. Thanks! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      • And I meant to suggest this site for the Watson material…

      • The Watson century is here:

      • Hi Hank, why don’t you rest on your laurels at Xmas at least? 🙂

        Look, according to the information below the origin of the word parentheses dates back to 1560-70, so by the time of the Sonnets Oxford might as well know and use it – if not in a written form, but orally:

        As to the other thoughts and remarks, I’ll check them thoroughly. Very interesting, to say the least 🙂
        Happy New Year to you and all your beloved ones!

      • Thanks sandy I am on my laurels 🙂

        Sent from my iPhone

  13. Whittemore, you must be right. Some oxfordians suggest that Oxford may have been a little obsessed with numbers and numerology. That Thomas Watson was an early pseudonym of Oxford is very plausbile, I believe in that. The same way that Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Lyly were front men to him, too. After all, secrets of Oxford like his affair with Elizabeth were in the works of such writers (“Dido, the Queen of Carthage” – Marlowe; “Venus and Adonis” – Shakespeare; “Edymion, the man in the Moon” – Lyly; “Tears of Fancy” – Watson” and curiously this same work have the Sonnet “Love thy Choice” by Oxford rewritten, the poet put himself as the lover of Venus and was published in the same year that “Venus and Adonis” by Shakespeare).

    Oxford was using again the century in his last sonnets like he use in the past in “A Century of Love” (I ask myself if this mistress was Elizabeth or Anne Vavasour).

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Whittemore

    • You are well informed and insightful! No. 7 of the Watson century is matched in reverse by Sonnet 130 of the dark lady sonnets to the Queen. Sonnet 130 turns the former praise inside-out, but really turning the queen from goddess into mortal human. I would be interested to see your views on this. As for the mistress of the Watson sonnets, it is possible that Oxford incorporated Vavasour into poetry that could also be intended for the queen. There is a correlation, for example, between Oxford’s echo verse and A Lover’s Complaint, not to mention the link to Spenser.

      • Hi gents!
        Hank did explain the desperate turning-out, in the sonnet 130, it was really convincing. Now that I try to fully understand sonnet 99 -which maybe a really important one- I can see the same Lily-Rose-smell motif going through the whole sonnet. Hank, here the word “robb’ry” in my opinion is a reference to Robert Cecil as the vengeful canker. Still I’m fighting with the persons in this sonnet, still not clear completely……
        As to Vavasour: I personally don’t really see Oxford’s intention to write to another women – after the Queen. Maybe I’m wrong, but if he’s reached the climax a man in England could reach… as a man I don’t see why to write to someone else 🙂

      • Maybe the Queen herself was the mistress of Watson’s sonnets (of both “A Century of Love” and “Tears of Fancy”). “A Century of Love” was published in the 80’s of 16th Century. In 1581, Elizabeth arrested Oxford for his affair with her Lady Anne Vavasour. He was released in that same year. I think “A Century of Love” and “Tears of Fancy” started to be written after Southampton’s birth in 1574. Oxford was dealing with different styles of writting sonnets: one, he invented; the other, he take of his uncle Henry Howard (and his friend Thomas Wyatt). He was writting to his mistress in the end of their affair and he continue to writting them after it. Like in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, he talks to his mistress as a “Lady” in “A Century of Love” and as “Venus” in “Tears of Fancy”. In this last work, published in the same year that “Venus and Adonis” by Shakepeare, Elizabeth is Venus (like in Shakespeare) and she have Cupid by her son. I think it’s because of this Cupid is Southampton in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Certainly, Sonnet 135 was written with the other 60 sonnets of “Tears of Fancy” but was not published because of the unpared number of sonnets that would be (in “A Century of Love” there are 100 sonnets, here we have 60. I think Oxford was in fact obsessed with numberology and here’s a proof).

        Watson was one of Oxford’s most evident nom-de-plume. Thomas Watson, Christopher Marlowe, George Peele, George Greene, William Shakespeare and John Lyly are, to my point of view, his pseudonyms. I believe too “Astrophel and Stella” was not written by Philip Sidney but by Oxford. I will not talk about that in this comment because this is already big :P.

        If you, Whittemore, want, I may speak of my theory that the blonde-haired, dark-eyed and married Stella is Elizabeth I ;).

  14. Hi Hank,
    let’s still play a bit with the idea of the pun with the parent-heses (hopefully no vengeful canker will kill us 🙂 )
    For me the question was also, why the parentheses were printed in italics? Now, that I’ve been leafing through The Monument, I’ve found a remark about Oxford from the early age: ‘…becoming known as the quintessential “Italiantate” Englishman”. In the light of this fact, if my suspicion is right, then he might have wanted to add this attribute -or something which is quite similar to it- to the final couplet.

    • Sandy, I already read that the parentheses were an methaphor to Time and to the Apocalypsis in the Biblie (after the Great Battle, everything would disappear, like that same two verses in the end of Sonnet 126 “disappear”). I think they will be an intemporal mystery.

      When talking about Sonnet 99, I can’t have a point of view about the 15 lines but I think it’s obvious to every PT theoryist that what we have here is the Tudor Rose and it’s coulors (Red and White). The lyly is just a commun methaphor of Reneissance Poets, even believing that Shakespeare’s Sonnets were wrote after the end of such era (1600) one or two ends of difference isn’t soo big and I think nobody needs to be PT theoryist to concord. The “vengeful canker” that is destroying the flower that steals everything of Southampton can be Cecil and/or James, with they ambition of destroy Tudor Dinasty because Elizabeth will not admit an heir. But I have to enlighten you to the coulors of the flower in question. It is not red and white. Oxford want to give us the idea that it’s not the Tudor Rose, with both coulors. But the flower is not red and white because IT HAVE BOTH! It is the same damsked rose that Oxford can’t see in Elizabeth’s face = she doesn’t have the purity in heart to be a Tudor monarch many more. This same war of hues we can see in “The Rape of Lucrece” (“Beauty’s Red and Virtue’s White” = the Red of Lancaster and the White of York).

      I think I answered to both you’re questions even tought Whittemore was supossed to answered them 😛

      • Hi Francisco,
        it’s very kind of you for answering,thank you 🙂 As to the colors, I understood from The Monument and Oxford’s works, what the colors themselves represent and symbolize. What I mentioned is that in the Watson century (to which Hank made a reference) AND sonnet 99 there’s the motif of white-red. It’s crucial to find as many cross-reference as possible in order to prove that the author was the very same. There are much more, of course, just to mention the love-god of the 153-154 sonnets, which can be found, along with the fountain, and hot water…
        As to the closing parentheses-couplet: Hank himself mentioned at least four versions, which all are important and believable. You mentioned one more, which is also might be of importance. But knowing Oxford’s talent for playing with words, I myself can’ rule out a not so obvious (or grand, apocalyptic) version, either 🙂

  15. Hi Hank,
    maybe I’ve found something about the sonnet 126 – now not the parentheses 🙂
    I didn’t really understand the surface motif of the Boy holding the glass, and Time keeps him to ‘this purpose to kill wretched minutes’. Of course I know the real meaning (Queen, Southampton and so on) – but for the common reader of that age, well, for me it is not Shakespeare-like clear. But now I’ve found a piece of information, the truth of which is not sure -I need your help to qualify it- but if it’s true then it does explain some things.
    Allegedly the word ‘Boy’ in the medieval english legal system meant hangman or executioner. What true is, that Shakespeare/Oxford did joke with the boy-hangman words at several places, like in the Much Ado About Mothing, Cupid being a boy, AND so a hangman, for example here:

    If it is so however, it would became crystal clear that the Boy in his power (which is just natural for an executioner) holds in his hands Time(s fickle glass) – waiting to kill. And there’s his (the executioner’s!) sickle.
    And now it’s clear what HER purpose is: to keep thee (the executioner) to this (her) purpose: to kill wretched minutes.
    I’m not sure if this all is understandable, but I’m really curious Hank, if you can fish out something relevant 🙂

    • I should add that of course it has about nothing to do with the Oxford theory, nor the Prince Tudor theory, but in my view anything that bring us nearer to Oxford’s original thoughts, is worthwhile to consider.

    • Thanks, Sandy. Now I have to study this as well:-) Again, it’s of course possible and even probable, with Oxford loving to incorporate the different layers of meaning. [I believe in this day and age it is much more difficult, since we may not have at hand such ready symbols and myths and biblical things to draw upon. How exciting all this is!

      • Yes, really it is. Sometimes I’m wrong, I admit, sorry for that. But to find these centuries-old hidden layers is really hard. And -just the old saying goes in my more strict field, mathematics- “There is no royal road” 🙂
        It’s not easy to double-check some information like this with the possible ancient meaning of ‘boy’. I did my best on the net, but that’s not enough, I know.

    • Well, Sandy, I think we should read Sonnet 126 (that, according to “The Monument”, was wrote on April 29th 1603, under Southampton’s liberation) like this:

      – Southampton, you are my loved son, that is doomed (“My lovely Boy”) and you have in your power the sickle fate of Tudor Dynasty (“Time’s fickle glass”; “Time’s” = Elizabeth’s). Its mutability show to you the decay and negligence in protecting you of those who are your true parents (I, Oxford, and she, Elizabeth; “Thy lover’s withering”; “lovers” = parents, those who gave royal blood/love/beauty to Southampton, the same lovers of Sonnets 40-42). If Elizabeth, now the late queen (“Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack” = Elizabeth is named Time and Nature in this Sonnet, like in very other sonnets under other names, such as “Fortune”, “Beauty” and “Diana/Dian'”), make you turn back (go back to prison?), now that you may be free (“As thou goest onwards”). But, even dead, you still in jail and I think to kill you is why she left you in the Tower (“She keeps thee for this purpose” (…) “Wretched minutes kill”). Though she be dead, you have to fear her majesty (“And yet, fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure!”; pleasure = royal will), she still keeping you, her son, but she will not save you from your doom (“She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure”). Her will of kill you two years ago (Feburary 1601), though not realized because of her death, have to be make (“Her audit (though delayed) answered must be”), but at her death, may she free you (“Her quietus (…) is to render thee”). Now let me not write the final couplet because, Sothampton, your fate and Tudor Blood’s fate is uncertain. –

      This is the was I read this sonnet

      • I love the phrase he uses of the boy “who hast by waning grown,” that is, as a prince he has grown (in the sonnets, and in life) in time, when, simultaneously, Elizabeth the Moon has been waning, her life always nearing its inevitable end … and her death without his succession will mean the end of royal time. [As in the regnal years of her reign.] The more he has grown, the less time he has had left. [“To give full growth to that which still doth grow.” – 118]

        The “boy” may be the hangman but as Sandy says he is first of all Cupid (153), the little Love-God (154), as well as the General of Hot Desire (154) and “the boy” (153) … and in the sorrowful 108 he is the boy in “Nothing, sweet boy, but yet, like prayers divine…”

        Speaking of 108, it reminds me to say that in the final twenty sonnets (107-126), counting one per day from Southampton’s release on April 10 to the queen’s funeral on April 28, plus then 126 the envoy, we are privy to a great drama between father and son. Oxford must have been there when, earl in the morning perhaps, Southampton walked out of the Tower. In 113 he writes “Since I left you,” indicating their meeting, and he is arguing back to whatever negative the son has thrown at him. Such is the nature of 116, retorting to some accusation. Look at the replies — for example, 109: “O never say that I was false of heart” — did Southampton say so? — 110: “Alas, ’tis true, I have gone here and there/ And made myself a motley to the view…” — did Southampton accuse him so? 111: “O for my sake do you wish fortune chide” – did Southampton wish Oxford ill-fortune, that is, for fortune to rebuke him? Skipping to 117: “Accuse me thus” etc, which seems all to clear that Oxford is frantically, even desperately, trying to justify and explain and defend his actions — was Southampton angry at the bargain Oxford made with Cecil? — 119 is really a Shakespearean stretch, “O benefit of ill,” turning things inside-out; the same with 120 – “That you were once unkind befriends me now” — an incredible attempt to bring things into alignment; and so for the first time, going on this thread, I can see in 121 that Oxford may well be referring to his son’s accusing him of being “vile” by his actions. (I am improvising freely here!) And then he picks up steam in the final defiance of Time… conquered by Time but conquering Time by means of this monument…

  16. Hi Hank,
    now just about Southampton’s feelings… In the II. world war there was a hungarian man, a certain Rezső Kasztner, who’d made a bargain with the nazis, and by this way he saved the life of aboot 1,300 jews.

    Later in Israel, after bitter arguments and accusations, he was trialed, and then in the streets killed by haters. Bargains with the evil are not always regarded respectfully, even by those whose life would have been saved. This is what human brain is like.
    Now look what had happened by the time of the release of Southampton: his idol Essex killed? His best friends and fellow-soldiers killed. His own estates and earldom lost, made a commoner.
    His father forced into anonymity, his (their?) health wretched. I can see the hatred in Southampton’s actions and perhaps accusations against everything Cecil represented. And that bargain is among them. As a father I do understand Oxford’s bargain, and as a son I do understand Southampton’s hatred.

    • Sandy, you make me think. Maybe Southampton really knew of his royal parentage. That why Cecil want him in the Tower to death but he only could do that with Elizabeth’s “will”/”pleausure”.

      If we read the second quartain of sonnet 67, we can read:
      “Why should false painting imitate his cheek

      Here, we have Oxford telling us why James Stuart have to be king like Southampton (“Why should false painting imitate his cheek”; “false” and “foul” are used to this same end in Sonnet 127) and why James and Cecil have to kill the secret Prince to have their way (“steal dead seeing of his lively hue”; “dead seeing” = remember “that all the world besides me think y’are dead” – Sonnet 112). Why should James and Cecil (“Poor beauty” = have no royal blood or have little royal blood?), secretly. seek Elizabeth’s bastards that can inherit her throne (“roses of shadow”; roses = “children of the Tudor Rose/bastards”; “of shadows” = “hidden” recalling sonnet 142 ” If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide”, it’s a reference to Essex, son of Elizabeth and Dudley, now dead) if Southampton is the only true prince (“his rose be true” – “rose” = Elizabeth’s son).

      Because of he begin the true Tudor inherit, Elizabeth (“Nature”) let him prisioner (see the final couplet of Sonnet 67).

      Southampton may knew this secret truth and did start to hate Oxford for he didn’t make nothing to save him (when he really did). But maybe Southampton didn’t knew nothing of this and was waiting for his friend (remember that during Southampton’s teen, Oxford was a very close friend of his. Oxford and Essex were idols to the young earl, that a historical fact).

      • Yes, this could be the case. It seems to me that Oxford uses 67 to record that the deal to save Southampton’s life has been completed. He himself is conflicted about it, however, for the reasons you say.

        The reason for Oxford to want his life spared is not just his love for his son, but also for the possibility that he could inherit the throne at some future date. So long as he stays alive, there is some hope. On the other hand, he has forfeited Southampton’s claim.

        But this now explains why, even after 145, which also marks the sparing of Southampton’s life, Oxford continues to rant and rave against the Queen. He does this in 146-152 and in 67 as well, in the very quatrain you quote — why keep him in shadows, hidden, when his rose is true? Regardless of the deal, he apparently still believes that Elizabeth can restore Southampton’s right to the throne. It very nearly drives him mad, as in 147: “Past cure I am, now Reason is past care…” And so on all the way through 152.

    • Thanks, Sandy. Fascinating.

  17. Hi Hank,
    your discovery of the 26-gap between the monument-sonnets is extremely important in my firm opinion. Numbering being of high importance in the series, it makes even clearer the whole structure, and Oxford’s intentions. I’ll try to find similar patterns.

  18. Hi Hank,
    as -after your remarks- I read through the almost-mad sonnets, I’ve found something, which may be interesting. In sonnet 144, which you mention above, there are the lines:
    “To win me soon to hell, my female evil
    Tempteth my better angel from my side”

    And in Othello, Act V, Scene 2, where Desdemona is dead, at the height of despair, there are the lines:
    “This sight would make him do a desperate turn,
    Yea, curse his better angel from his side
    And fall to reprobation.”

    I wonder if it is just a coincidence? I didn’t find a reference to Othello in The Monument at 144. Maybe it’s not important, but I’m curious, and try to find a meaning of it. In the sonnet it’s ‘my better angel’ and if in Othello it’s ‘his better angel’ then in Othello the reference is to Oxford himself. Hmmmm….

    • This is one sonnet, along with 138, revised somewhat from the 1599 Passionate Pilgrim and placed in the dark lady series. We could perhaps do more work to understand why. He needed twenty-six to balance the first twenty-six on the other side of the century:-) So it does have this meaning and probably no coincidence coming from this writer. He never overlooks or forgets. He knows. And of course that meaning, in reference to himself, is the meaning that gives him a cover story, so to speak — deniability. “Oh, no, this is not about the queen and my royal son, it’s just about me.” It is a “poet’s rage,” as he says in 17, speaking of “your true rights” that are imbedded in the same verse. In 1599 he undoubtedly felt this way about the conflict that was raging — trying to remain loyal to Elizabeth while keeping faith with Southampton. It’s tearing him apart. And sure enough, it explodes in the rebellion of Feb 1601. But here, in the sonnets, it fits within the prison series.

      • Hi,
        quite logical, your explanation that is. So it’s a new thing? So let’s serve is as a discovery for the Bright New Year 🙂

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