A Further Comment on Oxford’s Choice of Poetry (the Sonnets) to Carry His Message to Readers in the Future

Here is an additional comment related to the previous blog post about David Gontar’s insight, in his new book Hamlet Made Simple,  into the reason for the existence of the Sonnets:

In that post I failed to emphasize Professor Gontar’s statement, “By electing to employ the medium of poetry, which well the poet knew would be perused by later generations, strata of broader significance were entailed.”   Within this statement is perhaps the best answer to the question, “Why did Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford use poetry (sonnets) as a means of preserving a true story for posterity?”

Southampton in the Tower(8 Feb 1601 - 10 April 1603)

Southampton in the Tower
(8 Feb 1601 – 10 April 1603)

The answer is that, if his truth were to have any chance of surviving, it would need to be conveyed within the most deeply felt lines of which Oxford was capable of producing.  He knew the power of poetry, of great poetry, and knew it has the potential to live forever; and it does seem that he believed he was achieving such poetical heights, as when he wrote the following sonnet — which, I contend, could be written only to a prince:

Sonnet 55

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of Princes shall out-live this powerful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall Statues over-turn,    

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn

The living record of your memory.

‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth!  Your praise shall still find room

Even in the eyes of all posterity

That wear this world out to the ending doom.

So, till the judgment that your self arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

In the act of communicating this promise to Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton, during the younger man’s first forty days (February-March 1601) in the Tower of London, the Earl of Oxford, father of Southampton, was also revealing his intentions to those of us who might read those lines in the future.  He made the same promise to Southampton in Sonnet 81:

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,

And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,

When all the breathers of this world are dead.

You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen!)

Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

Come to think of it, the above lines express the reason for the existence of this blog site.

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