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.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful, Hank! I’m now trying to get some of my stuff in print, including Oxford’s Revenge, and the Spear Shaker Review. Also, I
    have some other articles that have never been published.Happy Valentine’s Day.
    Stephanie Caruana

    • Thanks, Stephanie — that sounds great. Please let me know when I can publicize any developments. Meanwhile, happy Valentine’s to you, too, and keep the faith.

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