The Rival Poet of the Sonnets is “William Shakespeare” or “Shake-speare” the Pen Name

Many of my Oxfordian colleagues do not (yet) agree with the following little essay, reprinted from my website for The Monument: “Shake-speare’s Sonnets” by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford … but I persist:

MONUMENT coverA startling discovery made possible by the Monument solution to the Sonnets is that Edward de Vere’s own pseudonym “Shake-speare” was the so-called Rival Poet of Sonnets 77-86, written while the Earl of Southampton languished as a convicted traitor in the Tower of London.

This idea — that the pen name “Shake-speare” was the Rival Poet — has been the most difficult aspect of The Monument solution to the Sonnets for many to accept. Yet, if one can step back for a moment and consider the larger picture of the Shakespeare authorship debate itself, it becomes clear why this idea makes perfect sense:

The authorship debate, at its core, posits that some unknown poet of the Elizabethan era chose to publish under a pen name while concealing his own name. Thus this assumed identity of “Shake-speare” is, in fact, an alter-ego of some sort — a natural, logical extension of the true author’s own identity.

[The name was hyphenated on many play quartos; more importantly, it was hyphenated for the printings of “The Phoenix and Turtle” (1601) and the title page of “SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS” as well as for printed signature on the narrative poem “A Lover’s Complaint” in the same quarto (1609).]

More importantly the pen name is in fact his “rival” (a word the poet never uses, in any case), since the verse published under the rival name “Shake-speare” will live forever, along with the Fair Youth (“You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen” – 81), while the Poet’s own name will be buried (“My name be buried where my body is” – 72).

This is just one more example of how The Monument addresses — and answers — just about every single question about the Sonnets raised over several centuries of criticism and commentary.

"Venus and Adonis" Dedication - 1593

“Venus and Adonis” Dedication – 1593


Oxford had first linked Southampton to “Shakespeare” in his very first published work, Venus and Adonis. Employing “the dedicated words which writers use of their fair subject, blessing every book,” as he wrote in Sonnet 82, he wrote dedications in both Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), which forever linked Southampton to “Shakespeare,” and which continue to provide the primary evidence that Southampton is the Fair Youth of the Sonnets.

During his 1601-1603 imprisonment, Southampton was a “dead man” in the eyes of the law (referred to as “the late earl”) and, therefore, no poets were publicly praising him then.  Oxford’s only “rival” was his own pen name, the “better spirit” known as William Shakespeare, whose dedications to Southampton were continuing to appear in new editions of the two narrative poems:


TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE Henry Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton, And Baron of Titchfield

Right Honourable,

I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden.  Only, if your Honour seem but pleased, I account my self highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour.  But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather: and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest.  I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honour to your heart’s content, which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world’s hopeful expectation.

Your Honors in all duty, William Shakespeare

"Lucrece" Dedication 1594

“Lucrece” Dedication


TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Henry Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton, And Baron of Titchfield

The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end, whereof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous Moity.  The warrant I have of your Honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored Lines, makes it assured of acceptance.  What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours.  Were my worth   greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your Lordship: To whom I wish long life still lengthened with all happiness.

Your Lordship’s in all duty, William Shakespeare

Sonnets 77-86 comprise one of the ten “chapters” of exactly ten sonnets apiece within the 100-sonnet center of the monument.  Each of the ten sequences is similar to a “movement” or self-contained section of music within a larger composition – the way liturgical works from the 14th century onward have often consisted of many movements, each intended to be performed at a different place of worship.  [And Oxford may well have had this spiritual or religious aspect in mind when constructing the “movements” of sonnets within his “monument” of verse.]

In the traditional view of the sonnets as written by William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon, there was no possible way to perceive the “rival” of Sonnets 77-86 other than as an unnamed real-life individual who was successfully competing for the Fair Youth’s [Southampton’s] affections.  Naturally enough many Oxfordians have adopted the same perception, sending them off on a similar fruitless hunt for the Rival Poet – the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh, George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe and so on.

Once Oxford is accepted as the author, however, the whole “movement” or chapter begins to make perfect sense: Edward de Vere is using these sonnets as a way of confirming that in fact he buried his identity behind the mask of the poet “Shakespeare” linked to Southampton.

The previous “movement” of ten sonnets [67-76] expressed the death of Oxford’s “name” or identity:

Do not so much as my poor name rehearse [71)

My name be buried where my body is [72]

Oxford’s own spirit is transferred to Southampton:

My spirit is thine, the better part of me [74]

He disappears from sight, but nonetheless he “almost” reveals his “name” or identity in “every word” of these sonnets:

Why write I still all one, ever the same, And keep invention in a noted weed, That every word doth almost tell my name…(Sonnet 76)

Following this spiritual death or obliteration is Oxford’s resurrection as “Shakespeare.”  Here is an overview of the so-called Rival Poet sequence:

Sonnet 77 – Oxford dedicates “this book” to Southampton: “And of this book this learning mayst thou taste.”  He tells the younger earl that the sonnets themselves will become his own “children nursed, delivered from thy brain,” since they are “the living record of your memory” [55] and therefore, in that sense, they are alive.  In effect Southampton gave birth to these verses, so he is “the onlie begetter” of them as the Dedication of the Sonnets indicates.  “This book” now becomes “thy book” as Oxford concludes in the couplet:

These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy book.

Sonnet 78 – Oxford begins by addressing Southampton this way:

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,

And found such fair assistance in my verse,

As every Alien pen hath got my use,

And under thee their poesy disperse.

Southampton has been Oxford’s muse or inspiration; the younger earl has given “fair” assistance as the so-called Fair Youth [“From fairest creatures we desire increase” – Sonnet 1, where he also uses the plural to refer to a single individual]; “every Alien pen” is Oxford’s poetical way of identifying his “Shakespeare” pseudonym (“E. Ver’s pen name, which is alien or different than his real name”); and it has been used “under thee” or under Southampton name as the printed signature to the public dedications of “poesy” or published narrative poems.

A few lines later Oxford tells Southampton directly that he is the sole inspirer or “onlie begetter” of the Sonnets, i.e., the one who gave birth to them:

Yet be most proud of that which I compile,

Whose influence is thine, and borne of thee…

Sonnet 79 – Oxford writes that “an other” [another poet, “Shakespeare”] has taken his place, as he tells Southampton:

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,

My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,

But now my gracious numbers are decayed,

And my sick Muse doth give an other place.

Sonnet 80 – The pen name “Shakespeare” is the “better spirit” who can praise Southampton publicly while Oxford must be silent:

O how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might

To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.

Sonnet 81 – This is one of the towering verses in which Oxford expresses his commitment to making Southampton immortal (“Your monument shall be my gentle verse/ Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read”); and the following statement actually sums up the entire authorship issue, which is tied directly to Southampton:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have

Though I (once gone) to all the world must die.

Southampton’s own “name” will be immortal because “Shakespeare” publicly dedicated his work to him; for that alone he will live forever; but Oxford himself, meanwhile, must “die” or disappear “to all the world.”  [Clearly he is not speaking of his literal death, but, rather, of the obliteration of his identity.]

Sonnet 82 – And now comes a direct reference to the “dedicated words” or dedications by “Shakespeare” to Southampton:

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,

And therefore mayst without attaint o’erlook

The dedicated words which writers use

Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

Dedicated Words = dedications of Venus and Adonis & Lucrece Writers = the writer known as “Shakespeare” Fair Subject = the Fair Youth, Southampton Every Book = E. Ver’s or Edward de Vere’s books of those two poems

Sonnet 83 – Oxford refers to “Shakespeare” in public and to himself in these private verses; “both” are Southampton’s poets:

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your Poets can in praise devise.

Sonnet 84 – “And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,” Oxford writes, with Oxford now referring to his pen name “Shakespeare” as “such a counterpart” or copy of himself.  [This is actually a legal term; that is, a counterpart is a duplicate or copy of an indenture; and the latter is a sealed agreement, often binding one person to the service of another, i.e., binding “Shakespeare” to Southampton’s service].

Sonnet 85 – Oxford refers to the silence imposed upon him by his secret agreement with Robert Cecil, who in 1601 has already entered into a “secret (and treasonous) correspondence” with King James in Scotland, working to prepare his way to the throne upon Elizabeth’s death.  Oxford has agreed give up his identity as “Shakespeare” and remain “tongue-tied” as a result, as he writes to Southampton:

My tongue-tied Muse in manners hold her still,

While comments of your praise, richly compiled,

Reserve their Character with golden quill,

And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.

I think good thoughts, whilst other write good words…

“Other” was apparently an accepted plural form, but here it refers again to Oxford’s pen name, the “other” (or rival) poet; and it seems obvious that he intended us to read it as singular, since by contrast he uses “others” in the ending couplet:

Then others for the breath of words respect,

Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

Sonnet 86 – These magnificent lines bring the chapter to its end:

Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,

Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you,

That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,

Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?

[The pen name “Shakespeare” has buried Oxford’s thoughts within his own brain; but from this “tomb” has come the “womb” of these sonnets, growing Southampton into “the living record” of him for posterity.]

Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write

Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?

No, neither he, nor his compeers by night

Giving him aid, my verse astonished.

[Was it “Shakespeare’s” power, which is above any height that any mere mortals have reached, that obliterated my identity?  No!  Neither he – my public pen name – nor my spirit during these nights of disgrace, giving “Shakespeare” my assistance, have stunned my verse into privacy.]

He, nor that affable familiar ghost

Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,

As victors of my silence cannot boast;

I was not sick of any fear from thence.

[Neither “Shakespeare” nor that friendly servant, my spirit that secretly crams him with information, can boast that they have caused my silence; no, I was not afraid of those things.]

But when your countenance filled up his line,

Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

[To Southampton: But when your person filled up “Shakespeare’s” lines in public, then I lost power and substance – that weakened my voice and drove me to use these private sonnets.]

After viewing this great “movement” of ten sonnets through this lens, it would seem not only difficult but impossible to make sense of them as written about any real “rival” for Southampton rather than Oxford’s own pen name that he himself had linked to the younger earl.

In effect, to save him Oxford had allowed the mask of “Shakespeare” to be glued to his face, smothering him.

Two Recent Customer Reviews of “The Monument”

Edward de Vere  17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere
17th Earl of Oxford

I’d like to thank all the readers who have contributed “customer reviews” of The Monument over at and to express my appreciation to the most recent reviewers.  What sparked my current gratitude was a review during February by “Yosemity” (a pen name, surely), along with one by Mark Lippstreueron in late December.  To my knowledge I’m not acquainted with either writer; I post their reviews here to encourage more Shakespeare lovers to explore the authorship question and, in particular, the Monument theory of the Sonnets as written by Edward  de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

By Yosemity — February 16, 2015

“This masterful literary detective work is brilliant. This interpretation of the Sonnets is the most coherent of all interpretations. It ties together the fair youth, the dark lady, and the rival poet with the underlying political context of the Essex Rebellion. It shows words and phrases cross references from early poems (i.e. Love Thy Choice) and plays to various sonnets most natural and sensible.

“For hundreds of years, the interpretation of a love triangle without the political context is twisting, awkward, and missed hundreds of double imagery in the sonnets sequence. What a remarkable discovery after 400 years. What a treasure and a gift to poetry lovers and to humanity…

“‘And thou in this shalt find thy monument’ (Sonnet 107, line 13).

“With the sonnets’ context based on Oxford’s life events, the double imagery in the sonnets can take both specific and more hidden meanings. The author wanted to hide the specific from plain sight. Readers can see it either way. Which way is more enjoyable? Which interpretation is more interesting? This depends on the reader. There are plenty of isolated lines that can be enjoyed without context. It’s like a rose by the side of the road, a summer day, etc.


“As an artist and a scientist, I find the Oxford context very interesting. It makes me appreciate the writer’s skill so much more, starting with the first two lines of Sonnet 1.  Here ‘beauty’s Rose’ can be a rose by the road, or the well-known Tudor Rose, Elizabeth I.  Based on personal experience, I know many artist, writers, actors often forgo more lucrative career paths to pursue their life’s calling. The most moving songs, poems, music, paintings, are drawn from life’s experience. Facts are much stranger than fiction. Art often imitates life more than we find life imitating art. Artists’ imaginations can’t go ‘outside the(ir) box’ unless they get help from outside (i.e. vision quest, or hallucinogens, or other muses). In short, Hank’s analysis compelled me to study the sonnets in greater depth.”

By Mark Lippstreueron — December 25, 2014:

“Very intriguing and well documented. This text give a solid argument for De Vere as the author of not just these poems, but all of the Shakespearean literature. Whether you are a Oxfordian or a pupil in the dark on this matter, the book is an excellent doorway to the Sonnets. The numeracy and historical support are quite powerful and worthy of note by any scholar. Enjoy and open your mind to the other side of the envelope and see the 154 sonnets as a single masterpiece.”

Oxford to Southampton in the Private Sonnets & Queen Elizabeth to Southampton in the Public Dialogue of Venus to Adonis

Elizabeth I  The Phoenix Portrait circa 1575

Elizabeth I
The Phoenix Portrait
circa 1575

In the narrative poem Venus and Adonis (1593), introducing the Shakespeare name and linking it uniquely to Southampton, the author gives the goddess Venus (Queen Elizabeth) thirty-six lines of dialogue spoken to young Adonis (first Oxford, now Southampton) in the same vein as the first seventeen private sonnets —

Venus to Adonis:

“Make use of time, let not advantage slip;

Beauty within itself should not be wasted…

Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breedeth beauty;

Thou wast begot, to get it is thy duty.”

The upshot is that, while the published poem may have been written in another form more than a decade earlier, the Earl of Oxford now adds lines enabling Elizabeth to urge Southampton to act, just as Oxford himself is urging him in private, using much the same language.  In another sense, however, both the sonnets and the poem are also reminding the Queen that she must declare herself on the matter of succession.  She must name an heir or “the world” (England) will suffer.

Sonnet 1, spoken by Oxford:

Pity the world, or else this glutton be

To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee!

Or, for example, Sonnet 9:

Ah!  If thou issueless shall hap to die,

The world will wail thee like a make-less wife;

The world will be thy widow and still [always] weep…

Henry Wriothesley  3rd Earl of Southampton circa 1594

Henry Wriothesley
3rd Earl of Southampton
circa 1594

And in the public poem, Venus-Elizabeth admonishes the young god:

“What is thy body but a swallowing grave,

Seeming to bury that posterity

Which by rights of time needs must have,

If thou destroy them not in dark obscurity?

If so, the world will hold thee in disdain,

Sith in thy pride so fair a hope is slain.”

These seventeen sonnets spoken by Oxford, as well as those thirty-six lines spoken by Venus-Elizabeth, are dynastic through-and-through.  Edward de Vere may well have originated this language in earlier days – for example, when his secretary John Lyly likened the Queen to Venus and referred to her “beauty” in Euphues his England (1580), dedicated to Oxford.  Now in 1593 the inherited “beauty” can only be the Queen’s blood or bloodline, carried by Southampton, to whom Oxford lectures as a father to his son and royal prince:

“Make thee another self for love of me,

That beauty still may live in thine or thee.”

The undercurrent of urgency is based on a situation in 1593 in which the future of England, and the existence in posterity of the relationship uniting the three main players (Elizabeth & Oxford & Southampton) — “three themes in one” as he writes in Sonnet 105 — is in danger of dying.

Hank’s Idea of the Month: the “General Student Recall”!!!


When the Academy finally realizes that its illustrious professors have been wrong about the identity of Shakespeare, all the institutions of learning that fed their students such incorrect information should repay them and/or their descendants for some of their ill-spent tuition money.  I suggest that, when the time comes, there should be a General Student Recall (GSR) the way General Motors recalls its cars so their errors can be corrected.  In this General Recall, students will be given free transportation, room and board to return to their campuses for Correction Classes.  After a week or so of this study of true history, with seminars on the Earl of Oxford and so forth, they will be sent back to their homes in good condition.

More of the Earl of Oxford’s Poetry to Queen Elizabeth – Part 2 of 2


An allegorical portrait of Elizabeth I painted after 1620

An allegorical portrait of Elizabeth I painted after 1620

The evidence is overwhelming that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford used most if not all of his early signed poetry to express his feelings about Queen Elizabeth and his relationship to her.  For example, in one of his signed poems in The Paradise of Dainty Devices of 1576 (“I am not as I seem to be”), he strikes a note that will turn up again and again in the so-called Dark Lady sonnets — which, I suggest, are also to and/or about that contradictory female monarch to whom he was utterly devoted but, in the end, to whom he bitterly complained in Sonnet 152 with his final words:

And all my honest faith in thee is lost.

For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness,

Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy,

And to enlighten thee gave eyes to blindness,

Or made them swear against the thing they see.

For I have sworn thee fair: more perjured eye,

To swear against the truth so foul a lie.

In his final words to the Queen, having lost “all my honest faith” in her promises to him, Oxford complains about being forced to “swear against the truth” by swearing “so foul a lie” for her sake – to pretend to see and think and feel in one way while seeing and thinking and feeling in the opposite way. Given that his own motto was “Nothing Truer than Truth,” and that in the Sonnets he is represented as Truth, he is clearly recording (not long before Elizabeth’s death on March 24, 1603) that because of her he has sworn against himself – a terribly tragic view of his own life.  (See The Monument, my edition of the Sonnets, for a full treatment of Elizabeth as so-called Dark Lady.)

The very first line of Oxford’s youthful poem (i.e., first published before 1576, when he was twenty-six) – “I am not as I seem to be/ For when I smile, I am not glad” – is an early expression of the emotional double-bind in which Elizabeth had forced him to exist.

I am not as I seem to be,

For when I smile I am not glad;

A thrall, although you count me free,

I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.

I smile to shade my bitter spite…

He is a “thrall” – a subject in bondage to her Majesty, as when he complains in Sonnet 149 of being “Commanded by the motion of thine eyes” (a power over him of which only his sovereign Mistress was capable); and in Sonnet 154, the second and final verse of the Bath epilogue about a much earlier time (August 1574), he calls himself “my Mistress’ thrall.”

In that same youthful poem to/about the Queen is a more potent foreshadowing of his much-later Dark Lady sonnets to Elizabeth:

O cruel hap and hard estate,

That forceth me to love my foe…

The Dark Lady sonnets are filled with the same theme – that because she holds such power over him and because he owes her his unquestioning service, he is forced to remain loyal to her and obey her commands, even though she has become his “foe” or enemy. Because of his “love” for her, as the servant of his sovereign, he is forced to act against his own interests. He opens Sonnet 149 with this theme, speaking to Elizabeth and saying, in effect, that he is so devoted to her that he joins with her against himself:

Canst thou, O cruel, say I love thee not

When I against myself with thee partake?

In an earlier time, by at least 1573, Oxford had written a sonnet to the Queen in the so-called “Shakespearean” sonnet form, asking himself rhetorical questions all pointing to her:

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

Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace?

Who made thee strive in honor to be best?

In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,

To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?

In Sonnet 150 to Elizabeth, however, near the end of her life, he roared back by turning those lines inside-out:

Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,

The more I hear and see just cause of hate?

In another early poem by Oxford published in Paradise of 1576, the seeds of agony to be expressed much later in the Dark Lady sonnets are all too apparent:

She is my joy, she is my care and woe;

She is my pain, she is my ease therefore;

She is my death, she is my life also,

She is my salve, she is my wounded sore:

In fine, she hath the hand and knife,

That may both save and end my life.

And shall I live on earth to be her thrall’

[Again he’s the “thrall” of the Queen, held in servitude to her; italics here and below are my emphases]

And shall I live and serve her all in vain?

The answer, years later, will be yes – yes, it was all in vain to think that, by continuing to serve her (and to lie for her), she would come to her senses and acknowledge Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, as her son and successive heir to the throne.  (Whether, in the end, Oxford expected that he himself could be acknowledged as Southampton’s natural father is another matter.)

I am not as I seem to be,

For when I smile I am not glad;

A thrall, although you count me free,

I, most in mirth, most pensive sad.

I smile to shade my bitter spite

As Hannibal that saw in sight
His country soil with Carthage town,

By Roman force defaced down.

And Caesar that presented was,

With noble Pompey’s princely head;

As ’twere some judge to rule the case,

A flood of tears he seemed to shed;
Although indeed it sprung of joy;

Yet others thought it was annoy.

Thus contraries be used I find,

Of wise to cloak the covert mind

I, Hannibal that smile for grief;

And let you Csesar’s tears suffice;
The one that laughs at his mischief;

The other all for joy that cries.

I smile to see me scorned so,

You weep for joy to see me woe;

And I, a heart by Love slain dead,

Present in place of Pompey s head.

O cruel hap and hard estate,

That forceth me to love my foe;

Accursed be so foul a fate,

My choice for to prefix it so.

So long to fight with secret sore

And find no secret salve therefore;
Some purge their pain by plaint I find,

But I in vain do breathe my wind.



The trickling tears that fall along my cheeks,

The secret sighs that show my inward grief,

The present pains perforce that Love aye seeks,

Bid me renew my cares without relief;

In woeful song, in dole display,

My pensive heart for to betray.


Betray thy grief, thy woeful heart with speed;

Resign thy voice to her that caused thee woe;

With irksome cries, bewail thy late done deed,

For she thou lov’st is sure thy mortal foe;

And help for thee there is none sure,

But still in pain thou must endure.


The stricken deer hath help to heal his wound,

The haggard hawk with toil is made full tame;

The strongest tower, the cannon lays on ground,

The wisest wit that ever had the fame,

Was thrall to Love by Cupid’s slights;

Then weigh my cause with equal wights.


She is my joy, she is my care and woe;

She is my pain, she is my ease therefore;

She is my death, she is my life also,

She is my salve, she is my wounded sore:

In fine, she hath the hand and knife,

That may both save and end my life.

x – (See Note below on his use of “anaphora”)


And shall I live on earth to be her thrall’?

And shall I live and serve her all in vain?

And kiss the steps that she lets fall,

And shall I pray the Gods to keep the pain

From her that is so cruel still?

No, no, on her work all your will.


And let her feel the power of all your might,

And let her have her most desire with speed,

And let her pine away both day and night,

And let her moan, and none lament her need;

And let all those that shall her see,

Despise her state and pity me.


x – It was Stephanie Caruana and Elisabeth Sears who alerted me in their 99-page pamphlet Oxford’s Revenge (1989), still an important work for Shakespeare authorship studies, about Edward de Vere’s early use of “anaphora” – the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of two or more successive lines, as exhibited in the poem above – and, of course, his use of “anaphora” within the works attributed to Shakespeare, such as Sonnet 66, which itself expresses his inability to speak his mind openly and honestly (“tongue-tied by authority … simple Truth miscalled Simplicity”):

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry:

As to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy Nothing trimmed in jollity,

And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And gilded honor shamefully misplaced,

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And Folly (Doctor-like) controlling skill,

And simple Truth miscalled Simplicity,

And captive-good attending Captain ill.

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that to die, I leave my love alone.

(He would kill himself, except that he would be leaving Southampton, his beloved son, “alone” in the Tower.)

The Earl of Oxford’s Poetry to Queen Elizabeth – Part 1 of 2

One poem in particular by Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford in The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576) can be established without question as written to/about Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Consider, for example, the first three lines of the second stanza:

But who can leave to look on Venus’ face,
Or yieldeth not to Juno’s high estate ?
What wit so wise as gives not Pallas place?

The early English novel Euphues and His England (1580), attributed to Oxford’s personal secretary and stage manager John Lyly, associates the Queen with Venus and Juno and Pallas.  R.W. Bond in The Complete Works of John Lyly (vol. 1) mentions a 1569 portrait of Elizabeth by court painter Lucas de Heere in which Elizabeth is attended by Juno, Minerva and Venus (preserved at Hampton Court). Whether Lyly could have seen the painting is conjecture; but Oxford, the Lord Great Chamberlain and first royal ward of the Queen, surely saw it.

Elizabeth I  1533 - 1603  In Parliament Robes

Elizabeth I
1533 – 1603
In Parliament Robes

The author of Euphues (which Oxford may well have dictated to his secretary) praises the Queen extensively, calling her a goddess: “O divine nature! O heavenly nobility! What thing can there more be required in a Prince than in greatest power to show greatest patience, in chiefest glory to bring forth chiefest grace, in abundance of all earthly pomp to manifest abundance of all heavenly piety? O fortunate England that hath such a Queen!   As this noble Prince is endowed by mercy, patience, and moderation, so is she adorned with singular beauty and chastity, excelling in the one Venus, in the other Vesta. Who knoweth not how rare a thing it is, ladies, to match virginity with beauty … but such is the grace bestowed upon this earthly goddess…”

[The first two narrative poems as by “William Shakespeare” feature Beauty and Chastity as brought to life in the goddesses Venus and Lucrece. Of Queen Elizabeth it may be said, “She had it both ways!”]

Oxford’s poem continues:

 These virtues rare each God did yield a mate;
Save her alone, who yet on earth doth reign,
Whose beauty’s string no God can well destraine.

 In his Studies in Philogogy (1980), Steven W. May writes that the middle line above, “with its reference to ‘her alone, who yet on earth doth reign,’ may well concern his relationship with the Queen.”  When this cautious Stratfordian scholar ventures a “may well” on this topic, we can take it to the bank that Oxford must have been writing about Elizabeth.

Most if not all of Edward de Vere’s poetry, in my view, centers around his relationship with Elizabeth, and all his poetry as by “Shakespeare” stems from that relationship as well – a prime reason why it was excluded from the 1623 folio of thirty-six plays.

The second part of this blog post will show some strong but heretofore unnoticed links between Oxford’s poetry and the so-called Dark Lady sonnets (127-152), in which her Majesty is “dark” or “black” not because of any physical coloring but, rather, because of her negative attitude and actions: “In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds” (131) … “For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,/ Who art black as hell, as dark as night” (147).


Reason and Affection.

If care or skill could conquer vain desire,
Or Reason’s reins my strong affection stay:
There should my sighs to quiet breast retire,
And shun such signs as secret thoughts betray;
Uncomely Love which now lurks in my breast
Should cease, my grief through Wisdom’s power oppress’d.

But who can leave to look on Venus’ face,
Or yieldeth not to Juno’s high estate ?
What wit so wise as gives not Pallas place?
These virtues rare each God did yield a mate;
Save her alone, who yet on earth doth reign,
Whose beauty’s string no God can well distraine.

What worldly wight can hope for heavenly hire,
When only sighs must make his secret moan ?
A silent suit doth seld to grace aspire,
My hapless hay doth roll the restless stone.
Yet Phoebe fair disdained the heavens above,
To joy on earth her poor Endymion’s love.

Rare is reward where none can justly crave,
For chance is choice where Reason makes no claim;
Yet luck sometimes despairing souls doth save,
A happy star made Giges joy attain.
A slavish smith, of rude and rascal race,
Found means in time to gain a Godess’ grace.

Then lofty Love thy sacred sails advance,
My sighing seas shall flow with streams of tears;
Amidst disdains drive forth thy doleful chance,
A valiant mind no deadly danger fears;
Who loves aloft and sets his heart on high
Deserves no pain, though he do pine and die.


The Special Language of the Sonnets — To Perceive or Not to Perceive, that’s the Question

The special language used by Edward de Vere the Earl of Oxford for SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS published in 1609 – to conceal, yet also reveal, his subject matter – was developed over at least a couple of decades — publicly!  This double-image vocabulary was never a secret; it appeared in Oxford’s own published writings, in the works of writers under his patronage and, of course, in the writings printed under his “Shakespeare” pen name.


Use of the special language is conspicuous in each of the 154 sonnets; for a good example, we don’t have to look any farther than the first two lines of Sonnet 1.  These serve to open the entire sequence and, as well, to announce that what follows is a record of the final chapter of Queen Elizabeth’s dynasty of the Tudor Rose.  The first line:

From fairest creatures we desire increase

The five key words in the very first line of the opening sonnet were all part of Oxford’s public lexicon in the Shakespearean plays, often within a royal context:

FAIR = (Royal) = “Take her, fair son, and from her blood raise up issue to me” – the French king to Henry V of England in Henry V, 5.2

CREATURE = (Child) = “The majesty of the creature in resemblance to the mother” – The Winter’s Tale, 5.2

WE = (The Queen, using her royal “we”; and/or the people of England) = “Once more we sit in England’s royal throne” – 3 Henry VI, 5.7

DESIRE = (Command) = “Desire the earl to see me in my tent” – Richard III, 5.3

INCREASE = (Offspring; heirs) = “If I have killed the issue of your womb, to quicken your increase I will beget mine issue of your blood upon your daughter” – Richard III, 4.4

“From most royal children the Queen and her subjects command heirs”

And now the second line:

That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die

BEAUTY = “Touching the beauty of this Prince, her countenance, her personage, her majesty” – John Lyly, Euphues and his England, 1580, dedicated to Oxford

ROSE = “Rosa Sine Spina” or “Rose without a Thorn” – a motto of Queen Elizabeth, referring to her dynasty of the Tudor Rose

BEAUTY’S ROSE = the phrase itself appears in Hymns of Astraea by John Davies, 1599, referring to Elizabeth and her dynasty

“So that thereby Elizabeth’s Tudor Rose dynasty will continue”

To see the intended meaning, we have no need for cryptography or secret codes or cipher systems and the like; on the contrary, the intended meaning is right in front of us:

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die

OR —

From most royal children the Queen and England command heirs,

So that thereby Elizabeth’s Tudor Rose dynasty will continue

Stratfordian-orthodox scholars view the meaning of those first two lines as wishing for “the bloom of youth” or “beauty’s prime” (Stephen Booth) to survive by  propagation or reproduction.  How do they fail to see the other meanings of the same words that Shakespeare himself often uses in his plays and narrative poems?

The reason, I suggest, has nothing to do with lack of intellect or knowledge, but, rather, the framework of meaning dictated by traditional premises or assumptions — which, in turn, are dictated by academic pressure and conformity.  If the only permissible or acceptable view of the author is that of a man having no personal connection to the monarch, and no business involving himself in highly sensitive matters of state, why, then, it’s impossible to see those other, more important meanings of the same words that exist simultaneously within the royal context.  When we hear those words within the context of the Shakespeare plays of English royal history, however, we immediately understand them that way.

No codes, no ciphers, no tricks.

It’s all about the context of the author’s identity and his world.

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