Two More Pointers to Queen Elizabeth as the “Dark Lady” of the Sonnets

Painting of Queen Elizabeth I of England Elizabeth 1_original.jpg

Painting of Queen Elizabeth I of England

Included below are two more ways in which the Earl of Oxford points to Elizabeth I of England as the so-called “dark lady” of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS, adding to:

Sonnet 76: “Ever the Same” – the Queen’s motto in English

Sonnet 25: “The Marigold” – the Queen’s flower

Sonnet 131: “Commanded by the Motion of Thine Eyes” – to a monarch

And now these two:

Sonnet 1: “Beauty’s Rose” – the Queen’s dynasty of the Tudor Ros

Sonnet 107: “the Mortal Moon” – Queen Elizabeth as Diana, the chaste moon goddess

BEAUTY’S ROSE – Sonnet 1

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauties Rose might never die

Those opening two lines serve to announce the overriding theme of the entire sequence of one hundred and fifty-four consecutively numbered sonnets: “What you are about to read involves the fate of Queen Elizabeth’s long Tudor Rose dynasty.”

Roy Strong in The Cult of Elizabeth (1997) writes that in the 1590s “we find overt celebrations of Elizabeth as ‘Queen of Love’ and ‘Queen of Beauty.’”  Back in 1580, however, John Lyly in Euphues and his England, dedicated to Oxford, referred to “the beauty of this Prince,” meaning Elizabeth, and wondered in print “whether our tongue can yield worlds to blaze that beauty.”

In 1599 Sir John Davies in Hymnes of Astraea, vertically spelling ELISA BETHA REGINA with the first words of his verse stanzas, used the actual phrase “Beautie’s Rose” in reference to the Queen and her dynasty:

R ose of the Queene of Love beloved,

E ngland’s great Kings divinely moved,

G ave Roses in their banner;

I t showed that Beautie’s Rose indeed,

N ow in this age should them succeed,

A nd reign in more sweet manner.

One of Elizabeth’s mottos was Rosa Sine Spina or Rose Without a Thorn. And as “Shakespeare” writes in Henry VI, Part Three:  “The red rose and the white are on his face, the fatal colors of our striving houses,” referring to the Houses of Lancaster and York, which were merged under Henry VII to begin the Tudor dynasty.

THE MORTAL MOON – Sonnet 107

The mortal Moon hath her eclipse endured,

And the sad Augurs mock their own presage

Strong also writes of the “ample justification for identifying [the Queen] with Diana, and hence the cult of the Queen as the moon goddess, Cynthia or Belphoebe. He writes that the moon cult was begun by Sir Walter Raleigh in the 1580s “as a personal, private” identification, but that it “became public in the nineties.”

“Elizageth-Diana-Venus-Virgo is ever young and ever beautiful,” Strong writes, referring to a song by John Dowland. “Her youth is perpetually renewed, like the waxing and waning of the moon.”  Images of Elizabeth in the final decade of the reign depict her with the crescent moon of Cynthia or Diana in her hair.

I suppose that if William Shakspere of Stratford upon Avon wrote these sonnets he might not have been aware of these associations with his female monarch, or he might have been simply referring to pretty roses and the moon, but I do know this: If her Majesty’s highest-ranking earl wrote them, there is no way he would NOT be referring, quite consciously and deliberately, to Elizabeth Tudor.

Many more of these pointers to come…

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hank, do you write somewhere else about the “region cloud” in sonnet
    33? It’s in the Monument as well.

    • Yes, Sandy, thanks for the reminder. This is definitely one of the many allusions to Elizabeth, perhaps not among the more recognizable. It will get there in time:-)

      • You know that this sonnet is very important for us: there’s the Son in the Monument.


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