Reason No. 11 (Part Three of Three) of 100 Reasons Why I Believe Oxford was “Shakespeare” — More on Oxford’s Public Letter for “Hamlet’s Book”

“I thought myself to commit an unpardonable error, to have murdered the same in the waste bottoms of my chests … further considering so little a trifle cannot procure so great a breach of our amity … and when you examine yourself what doth avail a mass of gold to be continually imprisoned in your bags, and never to be employed to your use … What do they avail, if you do not participate them to others … So you being sick of too much doubt in your own proceedings, through which infirmity you are desirous to bury and insevill your works in the grave of oblivion … “ – Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, in his prefatory letter to Thomas Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus Comforte in 1573 from Italian into English.

Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576) the Italian philosopher and author of "Cardanus Comforte," was still alive when Oxford was in Italy during 1575-1576

The 23-year-old earl created an elaborate “excuse” for publishing the work despite his friend’s wish that he refrain from doing so.  This apology or justification was not meant to be taken seriously by the readers; rather it was a literary device that Oxford used to create an elaborate, lofty, amusing piece of writing while introducing Cardano’s work that has come to be known as the book Hamlet carries with him and reads on stage.

What Oxford produced was a piece of Elizabethan prose that Percy Allen described in the 1930’s as “one of the most gracious that even those days of exquisite writing have bequeathed to us, from the hand of a great nobleman … with its friendship that never condescends, its intimacy that is never familiar, its persuasive logic, its harmonious rhythms, its gentle and compelling charm.”  [The Life Story of Edward de Vere as “William Shakespeare” – 1932]

Here is surely the same voice we hear in the Prince of Denmark’s words, Allen noted.  Here is prose that sounds like Hamlet’s speech to the common players who arrive at the palace.  As Delia Bacon had put it in the 19th century, the author of the play must have been quite like “the subtle Hamlet of the university, the courtly Hamlet, ‘the glass of fashion and the mold of form’” – a description that perfectly fits Lord Oxford in the early 1570’s, when he was in the highest royal favor at the Court of Elizabeth.  [The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded – 1857]

Oxford and “Shakespeare” both argue that the possessor of a talent has a duty to use it, that anyone with a virtue has a responsibility to share it with others rather than hoard it for himself alone.  The earl writes that if he had failed to publish Bedingfield’s translation he would have murdered the same in the waste bottoms of my chests.”  By contrast his act of causing the work to be published is but a “trifle” to be overcome; and from “Shakespeare” we shall hear the same words within the context of the same theme in the sonnets to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton:

So the time that keeps you as my chest – Sonnet 52

Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid? – Sonnet 65

But thou, to whom my jewels trifles are – Sonnet 48

But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,

And kept unused the user so destroys it;

No love toward others in that bosom sits

That on himself such murderous shame commits.  – Sonnet 9

Oxford rhetorically asks his friend to consider how it avails “a mass of gold to be continually imprisoned in your bags and never to be employed to your use?”  What good are Bedingfield’s studies if he chooses to “not participate them to others”?  Why would he want to “bury” his works “in the grave of oblivion?”

By new unfolding his imprisoned pride – Sonnet 52

Th’imprisoned absence of your liberty – Sonnet 58

Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament [“time’s best jewel”]

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.

Pity the world!  Or else this glutton be:

To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee – Sonnet 1

In Venus and Adonis of 1593, the goddess Venus lectures young Adonis on the same theme using the same words:

What is thy body but a swallowing grave,

Seeming to bury that posterity

Which by the rights of time thou needs must have,

If thou destroy them not in dark obscurityVenus and Adonis, lines 757-762

Thou art the grave where buried love doth live – Sonnet 31

The Tudor Rose - "That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet" - Juliet

Oxford enlarges upon his theme:

“What doth avail the tree unless it yield fruit to another … What doth avail the Rose unless another took pleasure in the smell … Why should this Rose be better esteemed than that Rose, unless in pleasantness of smell it far surpassed the other Rose?  And so it is in all other things as well as in man.  Why should this man be more esteemed than that man, but for his virtue through which every man desireth to be accounted of?  Then you amongst men I do not doubt but will aspire to follow that virtuous path, to illuster yourself with the ornaments of virtue…” 

And Shakespeare more than two decades later:

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet

Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.

But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,

Lose but their show; their substance still smells sweet.

– Sonnet 5

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!

The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem

For that sweet odor which doth in it live.

The Canker-blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the Roses

But for their virtue only is their show,

They live unwoo’d, and unrespected fade,

Die to themselves.  Sweet Roses do not so:

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made.  – Sonnet 54

Oxford writes:

“ … wherein I may seem to you to play the part of the cunning and expert mediciner or Physician, who, though his patient in the extremity of his burning Fever, is desirous of cold liquor or drink to qualify his sore thirst, or rather kill his languishing body …”

And Shakespeare uses the same image:

My love is as a fever longing still

For that which longer nurseth the disease,

Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,

The uncertain sickly appetite to please:

My reason, the Physician to my love…” – Sonnet 147

And finally, to choose among many such examples, Oxford anticipates one of Shakespeare’s major themes in the Sonnets printed in 1609, the power of his pen to create a “monument” for posterity:

“Again we see if our friends be dead, we cannot show or declare our affection more then by erecting them of Tombs: Whereby when they be dead in deed, yet make we them live as it were again through their monument, but with me behold it happeneth far better, for in your life time I shall erect you such a monument, that as I say in your lifetime you shall see how noble a shadow of your virtuous life shall hereafter remain when you are dead and gone.  And in your life time again I say, I shall give you that monument and remembrance of your life…”

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of Princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall Statues overturn

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!  – Sonnet 55

Oxford and Elizabeth -- the Lord Great Chamberlain of England, carrying the Sword of State, with Queen Elizabeth the First

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.

– Sonnet 81

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent – Sonnet 107

So that’s it for No. 11 of 100 reasons why I believe Oxford wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare.

But I’m just warming up, so stay tuned!

(Significant work on Oxford’s public letter to Bedingfield has been done by many Oxfordians including, for example, Gwynneth Bowen in the Shakespearean Authorship Review [England] of spring 1967, reprinted online in Mark Alexander’s Shakespeare Authorship Sourcebook and also in So Richly Spun: Volume 5 of Building the Case for Edward de Vere as Shakespeare , edited by Dr. Paul Altrocchi and yours truly.  Also, as mentioned previously, Joseph Sobran included an essay on the letter in an appendix to his book Alias Shakespeare in 1997.)

Two Short Video Clips of “Shakespeare’s Treason”

(Performance at Flathead Community College in Kalispell, Montana, arranged by Professor Brian Bechtold.)


Towering Defiance of Time and the Official Record: “Thy Registers and Thee I Both Defy!”

The real story of the Shakespeare sonnets is that of one man howling in defiance of obliteration — the burial of his truth, the blotting out of his identity.  The man is Edward, Earl of Oxford, raging against the agents of his destruction and promising to overcome them by preserving the truth in this “monument” of verse for posterity.

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 – 81

Speaking of defiance -- Oxford used this "crown signature" from 1569 until the Queen died in 1603 and James succeeded her, when he ceased to use it.

In a real way Oxford becomes a Christ figure who, in the course of the sequence, undergoes death and resurrection:

The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s loss [cross] – 34

[Henry, Earl of Southampton’s sorrow for his role in the Essex Rebellion offers little relief to Oxford, who has agreed to suffer the consequences for him.]

And both for my sake lay on me this cross – 42

[Both Southampton and Queen Elizabeth, who holds him in her Tower prison, are causing Oxford to suffer]

Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken,
A torment thrice threefold thus to be crossed – 133

[They comprise a royal, dynastic family triangle; because Southampton has committed treason, all three of them are doomed.]

The 1609 dedication of the Sonnets (the inscription on the Monument) to "Mr. W. H." - a reversal of Lord Henry Wriothesley, reflecting his lowly status as "Mr." while in the Tower - from "our ever-living (deceased) poet" -

Oxford is volunteering to take on the burden of the guilt:

So shall those blots that do with me remain
Without thy help be borne by me alone – 36

If my slight Muse do please these curious days,
The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise – 38

[All praise will go to Southampton while Oxford disappears from view.]

To play the watchman ever for thy sake – 61

[He will save Southampton’s life and secure his freedom.]

And art made tongue-tied by authority – 66

[Oxford’s ability to speak directly through these private sonnets has been nullified by official decree; his art has been “tongue-tied” or silenced by the crown, in the person of Sir Robert Cecil, who now runs the Elizabethan government in its final years heading to an uncertain succession.

[He is using a special language, however, allowing him to speak here indirectly.  (“That every word doth almost tell my name” – 76) In effect, his words carry a double image, simultaneously conveying two (or more) meanings.]

He is fading away:

When I, perhaps, compounded am with clay,
Do not such much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay – 71

After my death, love, forget me quite…
My name be buried where my body is – 72

My spirit is thine, the better part of me – 74

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die – 81

The 1594 dedication of "Lucrece" to Southampton -- by "Shakespeare" the pen name and so-called rival poet of the sonnets...

The agent of Oxford’s obliteration is his own pen name, “William Shakespeare,” which he had used to dedicate his first works, Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, to Southampton [the only one to whom “Shakespeare” dedicated anything]; and now that mask is being glued to Oxford’s face:

Was it his [“Shakespeare’s”] spirit by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch that struck me [Oxford] dead? – 86

The more that “Shakespeare” is seen to be praising Southampton, the less visible Oxford becomes:

When your [Southampton’s] countenance filled up his line,
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine – 86

After Southampton’s liberation by King James on April 10, 1603, a climactic event celebrated by Sonnet 107, his defiance grows into a roar by an amazing compression of words, a literary feat that may well have no equal.  I would urge all to read over the final Sonnets of the “fair youth” sequence from 107 to 126.  Let’s just close with Sonnet 123, in which Edward de Vere tells Time itself, “Thy registers and thee I both defy!” — that is, he defies the official history to be written by the winners [Cecil]; he defies it and will be “true” [indicating his own identity, through his motto Nothing Truer Than Truth] despite all that has crushed him:

No!  Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change,
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
They are but dressings of a former sight:
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them borne to our desire
Then think that we before have heard them told:
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond’ring at the present, nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be,
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

The day is coming sooner than later when students will be given the opportunity to appreciate the greatness of these sonnets.  Within the traditional paradigm there has been no possibility for such appreciation; the best that can be taught is the value of the poet’s rhetorical skills, as he puts forth his universal themes, while the severe limitations of Stratfordian authorship dictate that the genuine human drama remains unseen.

Well, it will be seen!  And then there will be new life in the classroom, new excitement in the lecture hall, and a kind of Shakespearean renaissance — as we crawl out of the long dark tunnel of tradition into the bright light of truth.

“Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets” – An Amazon Review

I’d like to share an Amazon customer review of Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets by my friend and colleague Peter Rush, as a way of publicly thanking him for the rave, which now follows:

In 2005 the author, Hank Whittemore, published his “monumental”, and I would say definitive, study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, entitled The Monument.  Its 900+ pages is an extended tour de force, and represents, in my opinion, and the opinion of a growing number of others, scholars and “lay” persons alike, the heretofore missing “smoking gun” that not only explains, fully and totally, the entire cycle of 154 sonnets, down to every word in every line in every sonnet, but resolves, definitively, with no room for an alternate explanation, the “Shakespeare authorship” debate, in favor of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

The present volume is the author’s teaser, intended to reveal the core of his analysis and argument, in a very readable, relatively abbreviated format, that will by virtue of a more affordable price and much shorter format, reach a much broader and more general audience.

It is to be hoped that, teased by this volume, many will recognize the need to acquire The Monument itself in order to fully appreciate, at a much deeper, far more satisfying level, dozens and dozens of sonnets they have probably never read before, and which, had they read them, they would have found them incomprehensible, but which they will now find become transparent as to meaning, which will open up the ability to appreciate the astounding poetry, rich beyond compare.

I could attempt to provide some of the actual evidence for Whittemore’s thesis in this review, but I could only begin to scratch the surface, and I couldn’t do it as well as it is done in this volume. This volume can be read in one sitting, and does the job extremely well.  I do commend people to read my review of The Monument in Aug. 2005,  the first review that comes up, for some more information on Whittemore’s revolutionary discovery.

What I do want to say is that Whittemore has identified that not only a few sonnets, as some others have correctly determined, but every single sonnet, is about the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Queen Elizabeth, and/or Oxford himself, which has importance for one reason only — that Southampton was Oxford’s unacknowledged son by Elizabeth, thus of royal blood, a potential successor to Elizabeth, requiring only that she recognize him as her bastard
son for him to become king on her death. Don’t freak out, if this is the first time you’ve heard this thesis. Trust me, when you read this book, you will see hundreds of references in the sonnets that only make sense if this hypothesis is correct. Please don’t prejudge the argument without reading the evidence for yourself.

What I can confirm is that no other attempt to explain the entire sonnet cycle by any other researcher (and only a few have even attempted to analyze all 154 in detail and as a unified corpus), comes remotely close to explaining every sonnet, much less every word and every line in every sonnet. Absent Whittemore’s brilliant analysis, the sonnets at best remain an enigmatic exercise by an acknowledged genius that continues to elude intelligible explication. Anyone with any interest in Shakespeare, the sonnets, and/or the authorship debate, must read this book.

What you will find here is a wealth of different types of evidence that matches the sonnets, one by one, to historical events in Southampton’s life through his release from imprisonment in 1603. The first 17 are entreaties to marry (anyone) in order to procreate, in order to carry on the royal line. Sonnets 27-106 start on the day Southampton was arrested for teason on Feb. 8, 1601, and end the day before he was released. 107-126 cover the days to the burial of Queen Elizabeth. 127-152 are a reprise of the imprisonment period, more briefly, focusing more on Oxford’s anger at Queen Elizabeth, the “dark lady.”

Whittemore convincingly shows who the “rival poet” is, and by establishing that Southampton was his own son, obviously solves the riddle of how/why these poems could be putative love poems to–another man!

What distinguishes The Monument from this volume is that, in addition to providing even more detail along the lines of what this book contains, The Monument provides 14-line translations of every sonnet, rendering the underlying meaning clear, and then providing, in 1-3 pages each, detailed analysis of every line, and many words and phrases, for every sonnet, and showing how the same words or concepts also have appeared in one or more plays.  One needs to read The Monument to really appreciate every sonnet. But the present volume is a wonderful introduction to the thesis, and permits understanding many of the more crucial sonnets.

The Shakespeare authorship debate is in as full a swing as it has ever been. Finally, a number of leading Stratfordians have realized that ignoring the Oxfordian argument wasn’t working for them, and they have decided they need to fight back with books of their own on the authorship debate, websites, etc.

James Shapiro signs my copy of "Contested Will" for me after giving a talk in New York City.

James Shapiro’s “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare” is just the latest book I believe to be entered in the lists (a wretched, pathetic attempt, in my opinion), and there are a number of extensive websites. In several of these, the Stratfordian side has finally attempted (I think futilely) to actually mention the arguments from the Oxfordian side, and attempt to refute them.  I mention this because, despite being available for the past five years, I have been unable to track down a single attempt by any Stratfordian to tackle Whittemore’s thesis.

I believe this fact (unless I’ve missed some analysis somewhere) is extremely telling.  Given the slowly gathering recognition by more and more people that Whittemore has found the key to both the sonnets and to the authorship issue, it seems pretty certain that had the Stratfordian side any serious argument with which to debunk Whittemore’s thesis (other than prima facie “the thesis that Southampton is QE’s son is impossible”), we would have seen it by now. Their silence speaks volumes in favor of the power of his thesis and
likelihood that Whittemore has, indeed, solved this mystery. I can only imagine that they pray every night that most people will never be able to “get over” their aversion to believing that Southampton could be QE’s bastard son by Oxford, and hence never have to confront Whittemore’s thesis on the evidence itself. If so, I believe they will find themselves sadly mistaken.

In the interests of full disclosure, I want to make known that I have become a personal friend of the author, having read an early draft of his thesis in 2000 on a listserve, when I first contacted him, and have followed his progress from tantalizing hypothesis to confirmed theory ever since. I don’t believe this taints my review. I was intrigued by his early hypothesis, and totally convinced by The Monument, his completed thesis. The present volume is wholly derivative from that 2005 book.

I also want to note a criticism of the way the book was put together, which doesn’t negatively impact the thesis, but does cry out for improvement in a second edition.  The volume reads like a compilation of three or four essays that might have been written separately and then just published together (but I don’t believet his was the case).  Transitions between some of these sections are lacking, and the effect leads to occasional repetition of points already made in an earlier section, and some jumping around of the subject matter.

Thanks to Peter Rush — and Cheers from Hank

Cheers for “Malice Aforethought” by Paul H. Altrocchi M.D.

We are finally getting around to reprinting the wonderful Amazon customer review of Dr. Paul Altrocchi’s new book MALICE AFORETHOUGHT, The Killing of a Unique Genius, by  Gary L. Livacari D.D.S., of Park Ridge, Illinois

Full Disclosure: Dr. Altrocchi has one chapter featuring my book THE MONUMENT (and I thank him for that, while thanking Gary for mentioning my work); otherwise the review needs no more introduction or comment from me, so here goes:

Review by Gary L. Livacari, D.D.S.

Take it from a committed Oxfordian who has been following the Shakespeare-Authorship question for almost 25 years: “Malice Aforethought, The Killing of a Unique Genius,” by Oxfordian author Paul Altrocchi, M.D., is an outstanding book. It certainly belongs in the library of all Oxfordians, but it will also be of great value to everyone, especially those who are new to the controversy, wondering what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, our friends on the Stratfordian side will likely dismiss it as “more of the same.” As usual, they will be profoundly mistaken.

In addition to providing a thorough summation of the strong circumstantial case for Edward DeVere as the true author of the Shakespeare cannon (writing under the hyphenated pseudonym, “William Shake-speare”), Paul Altrocchi details the incredibly weak case for William Shaksper of Stratford. Many newcomers will be suprised to learn that Shaksper was an illiterate, uneducated villager who never wrote a word of prose or poetry in his life – hardly the resume one would expect to find from the author of the greatest works of literature in the English language.

Dr. Altrocchi offers up plenty of new information that long-time Oxfordians will savor. His original research into the symbolism found in the Pregnancy Portrait of Queen Elizabeth yields fascinating results and is well worth the cost of the book by itself. Of special note is his deciphering of the portrait’s here-to-fore unexplained third Latin motto: “Dolor est medicina ed tori.” Without revealing the secret – one which has gone unresolved for over 400 years – it comes close to being a “smoking gun” for Edward DeVere.

The Pregnancy Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)

Also noteworthy is his interesting, even-handed discussion of the Roscius annotation (an original discovery that the author made himself) with Stratfordian author Alan Nelson. This may well be the first-ever combined research project conducted between an Oxfordian and a Stratfordian where the only goal was the discovery of the truth. There are also interesting discussions of the power of conventional wisdom (how it is often times wrong and how it is perpetuated), and the difficulty of initiating a paradigm shift in any field.  These topics are of particular relevance to the Shakespeare-authorship question.

The best feature of the book is that Altrocchi is the first to fit all the pieces of this intriguing puzzle together. Other authors have touched upon many of the topics covered in the book, but none to my knowledge has “put it all together” from beginning to end.  Altrocchi’s refreshing approach throughout the book is to base his conclusions solely on the known facts relating to the case, and he makes a concerted effort to refrain from unfounded speculation, even if it hurts the Oxforian case.  Of course, this is the diametrically opposite approach employed by virtually all Stratfordian authors, where unsupported speculation is often the order of the day.  What else do they have to go on?

Combining his research with that of other recent findings (most notably that of Hank Whittemore in his ground-breaking book, “The Monument”), Paul Altrocchi offers credible explanations for the entire authorship mystery. Along with “The Monument”, this may well be the biggest step forward for the Edward DeVere case since “The Mysterious William Shakespeare.” Oxford…Shaksper…the myth of the Virgin Queen…William and Robert Cecil…the Essex Rebellion…Southhampton…Succession to the throne…the Prince Tudor theory:  these and many other topics all come together in Paul Altrocchi’s skilled hands.

“Malice Aforethought” is well worth the investment in time and money and will keep your interest from beginning to end.  I highly recommend it to Oxfordians of all stripes, and to all others with an open mind who have no vested interest in this important question other than a burning quest for the truth.

Again, thanks to Gary Livacari … and cheers from Hank!

New Release Date for Emmerich’s “Anonymous”

A quick note that RAMA’S SCREEN reports that the release date of Roland Emmerich’s movie Anonymous has been changed from March 2011 to September 23, 2011.  We hear the movie will cover some of the “story” told in the Sonnets according to my book The Monument — basically with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as the author of the “Shakespeare” works and father of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, a prince by blood whose involvement in the Essex Rebellion landed him in the Tower of London as a traitor.

I’ll be back later with any further details.  Cheers from Hank

“Do Not So Much as My Poor Name Rehearse … My Name Be Buried” — An Answer to “Why” the Earl of Oxford Used the “Shakespeare” Pen Name

On one of our Internet-based forums discussing the theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the “Shakespeare” poems and plays, I recently found my thoughts pouring onto the paper about Oxford’s use of the pen name.  Here’s an edited version:

In my view we Oxfordians make a big mistake by trying to explain “Shakespeare” in conventional authorship terms, that is, by saying Oxford  used the pen name “because he was a nobleman who loved to write poems and plays, but, because it was a disgrace for a noble to take credit for such writing, he adopted a pen name.”

A Portrait of "The Two Henries" circa 1619 -- demonstrating the close tie between Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, and Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford, son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

I think we Oxfordians also make a mistake saying Oxford used the pen name “because he had lampooned highly placed figures such as William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chief minister to Queen Elizabeth, and exposing his own identity meant exposing them as well.”

The story is much bigger than that.

The fact is Oxford had published songs or poems under his own name, publicly, in the collection Paradyse of Dainty Devices of 1576; and he had advertised his writing earlier in his prefaces to The Courtier of 1572 and Cardanus Comforte of 1573. He had used names of living or deceased persons and fictional names.  He had written anonymously, too.

He had done this through his most productive years in his twenties and thirties, and not until age forty-three in 1593 did he adopt the Shakespeare pen name.

I say we Oxfordians might acknowledge the obvious, that Edward de Vere’s s adoption of “Shakespeare” on Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594 was different than all the other cases.  In this instance he linked the pen name by dedication to a person, that is, to Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton.  It’s clear that in this case Oxford’s motive in using the pen name  “Shakespeare” was TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE EARL OF  SOUTHAMPTON PUBLICLY, which he did with dedications to him on those two sure-fire bestsellers.

The Earl of Oxford's initials E.O. are on the cover page of The Paradyse of Dainty Devices, 1576, with Edward de Vere's early poems and songs among the collection

We Oxfordians would do well to acknowledge that the case for Venus and Adonis and Lucrece as somehow “anti”-Southampton has NOT been made.  Those who have claimed that either the dedications or the poems carried negative intentions toward Southampton have FAILED TO MAKE THEIR CASE.  There is no evidence for that claim and all the evidence we do have is on the positive side.

Oxford used “Shakespeare” and the dedictions and the narrative poems to call attention to Southampton in a POSITIVE way.

After Burghley’s death in 1598, Oxford’s revisions of his own plays began to have the Shakespeare name on them as well; and there is some evidence that he used these plays to call positive attention to the Essex faction, of which Southampton was a leader.   On its face the conspirators of the 1601 Essex rebellion (and Southampton as leader of its planning) used Richard II by Shakespeare in a positively intentioned way against the power of Secretary Robert Cecil to control the coming succession.

It emerges, therefore, that Oxford’s writing life had two phases:

(1) during the 1560’s, 1570’s and 1580’s, he wrote under various names or anonymously in the service of England under Elizabeth, as court play producer and writer, as head of a team of writers, developing an English cultural identity, rousing unity in the face of threats from within and without; and

(2) from 1593, after Southampton had rejected a Cecil alliance through marriage, when Oxford supported him as “Shakespeare” and, therefore, TURNED AGAINST the Cecil-run government … and after Burghley’s death, with escalation of this struggle culminating in the utterly failed rebellion.

After the abortive revolt and during 1601-1603, it was Robert’s Cecil’s single minded, nerve-wracking task to engineer the succession of James without Elizabeth learning of the secret correspondence with that monarch.  Cecil could not afford any opposition, much less civil war.  If he failed in this endeavor he was a dead man.  He needed all the help and support he could get.

He killed Essex quickly, as his father had killed the Duke of Norfolk in 1572 and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots in 1587, because these Catholic figures had stood in the way of the continuing Protestant reformation.  Cecil wrote a letter saying he probably could not avoid the Southampton execution — and I think this was part of his own setup for taking credit later on, as the man who got the Queen to spare Southampton’s life.  (In fact it was Cecil himself who decided Southampton should be spared, not because of affection or pity but so he could hold him hostage in the Tower until after King James was safely and securely on the throne.)

As the Oxfordian researcher Nina Green has suggested, Oxford may well have been “40” in the secret correspondence with James; and I recommend G. P. V. Akrigg’s book of James’ letters* including the one to “40”, promising to deal with him “secretly” and “honsestly” and only through Cecil.

*(The Letters of King James VI and I)

King James VI of Scotland & King James I of England

Both Cecil and James needed Oxford’s support, on various levels, and the perpetual confinement of Southampton — as the base commoner “Mr. Henry Wriothesley,” or “the late earl” in legal terms — was a way of securing Oxford’s agreement to help.

If we believe Oxford was Shakespeare, and if we believe he had told the truth publicly to Southampton that “the love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end,” and that “what I have to do is yours,” then we must conclude that Oxford did whatever he could do to ensure that, if he did help James become king and helped Cecil to regain his power, then Southampton would be released with a royal pardon and all his lands and titles restored.

Sir Robert Cecil, Principal Secretary to Elizabeth

These things did result and they have not been explained by conventional history.

But it’s explainable if all those remarkable rewards were in return for Southampton’s pledge to cause no trouble for a peaceful succession.  Oxford and Southampton both had potential disruptive moves to make, moves they did not make.  And they did not make such moves despite the fact that in no way did any of these English nobles really want James on their throne.   And in any case, legally he had no claim because he’d been born on foreign soil.

And it’s here that we have the Sonnets with Oxford’s expressions of fear for Southampton’s life, and his pledge that “my name be BURIED,” not just hidden behind a pen name, but really buried and that he would “die” not onlyphysically, which was a given, but die “to all the world,” that is, his identity would die and be buried.

In his place would be “Shakespeare” the pen name (the so-called Rival Poet) which was the “better spirit” that “doth use your name, and in the praise thereof makes me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.”

This is no routine anonymity as before, but, now, obliteration to “all the world” in terms of his writing and his positive intentions toward Southampton.  And in the sonnets he tells Southampton, “When I perhaps compounded am with clay, do not so much as my poor name rehearse.”

So if we choose to take him seriously as speaking to Southampton under these conditions, then here is the correct answer to the authorship question in terms of “why” — why his name was buried: because he had promised this self-obliteration in order to avoid another civil war in England, to bring about a peaceful succession, and to save the life and future of  Southampton.

All of which was accomplished.

“To all the world” meant to contemporary generations and the next two or three as well.  The sonnets become a “monument” for posterity.  All we need to do is read sonnets 55 and 81 for that theme.  And in 107, the climax of the story, he celebrates all these bittersweet results at once, ending with yet another pledge that this will be Southampton’s monument that will outlast all other kinds of tombs.  And even he, Oxford, “will live in this poor
rhyme,” that is, he will cheat death in the end through these sonnets.

So the Sonnets were not published to be sold, and not printed for commercial reasons.  They were printed in hopes that they would survive until some future time when “all the breathers of this world are dead.”  (81)

The Sonnets are nonfiction dressed as fiction — a statement I make for the Sonnets, uniquely so, NOT for all the other Shakespeare works — and I believe we Oxfordians would do well to emphasize that we do NOT contend that the plays are autobiographical in the strictest sense.  They are works of the imagination, fiction, with many autobiographical elements and, since this is a case of hidden authorship, Oxford undoubtedly inserted clues to his presence.

But as Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the rich are different than you and me, so we can say that the Sonnets are different than the poems and plays.  The Sonnets, unlike the plays of Hamlet and Othello, are written with the personal pronoun “I” in reference to the author himself.

Oxford’s agreement to bury his name and identity was different after the rebellion of 1601 than it had been in 1593 when he first used the Shakespeare pen name.   After 1601, he was pledging to take another huge step, not one he had committed to before:

“Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write above a mortal pitch,” he asks about “Shakespeare” in Sonnet 86, “that struck me dead?”

He had agreed to be “tongue-tied” by “authority” or officialdom.  The government which he had worked so hard to help, even to the point of testifying against his Catholic cousins — that same government was the cause of his demise.  A terribly sad, ironic story — but a much more dynamic one, and a more accurate one, I contend, than the one we Oxfordians have been trying to communicate over the past ninety years.

I say it’s time to move the authorship debate forward by putting forth the far more powerful, and human, story that is both personal and political — necessarily political, given that our candidate for “Shakespeare” was in fact the Lord Great Chamberlain of England, highest-ranking earl of the realm and — despite his Hamlet-like eccentricities, his Shakespeare-like multiple personalities — an extraordinary figure at the very center of the Elizabethan royal court, within the context of the Anglo-Spanish War that officially spanned the two decades from 1584 to 1604, when England was always a nation struggling to survive as well as grow.

“Let This Sad Interim like the Ocean be” – Pleading with Southampton to Remain Strong in the Tower – Chapter 51 of The Living Record

Sonnet 56
This Sad Interim
9 March 1601

Oxford records his deep sadness after meeting with Southampton in the Tower, when he had to inform his royal son of the bittersweet bargain with Robert Cecil (and the Queen) as the only way to gain a reprieve from his execution.  His reference to the Ocean (sea of royal blood) is an overt homage to Southampton as a prince or king. He urges Henry Wriothesley to go along with the bargain to save his life.

Hank Whittemore performing "Shake-speare's Treason," the one-man show dramatizing this true story told by Oxford in the Sonnets for posterity (photo by Bill Boyle)

Sweet love, renew thy force!  Be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharpened in his former might.

So love be thou, although today thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fullness,
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of Love with a perpetual dullness.

Let this sad Interim like the Ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;

As call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wished, more rare.


SWEET LOVE = royal prince; royal son; “Good night, sweet prince” – Hamlet, 5.2.366; THY FORCE = your royal power and strength; validity, as in “our late edict shall strongly stand in force” – Love’s Labour’s Lost, 1.1.11; your will to live

A contemporary drawing of Essex being executed on February 25, 1601


EDGE = the cutting side of a blade, echoing the “edge” of the executioner’s axe; “But bears it out even to the edge of doom” – Sonnet 116, line 12; keenness, desire, royal will; “with spirit of honor edged more sharper than your swords” – Henry V, 3.5.38; APPETITE = your desire to live; i.e., Oxford is urging his son to go along with the bargain being made for his life, appealing to his desire to live and eventually be freed from prison


BY FEEDING = by being put out to pasture, so to speak; “Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep in the affliction of these terrible dreams that shake us nightly” – Macbeth, 3.2.18-19; ALLAYED = postponed (with ALL = Southampton, his motto One for All, All for One)


TOMORROW = “Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind” – Sonnet 105, line 5; FORMER MIGHT = former royal power; “O’er-charged with burden of mine own love’s might” – Sonnet 23, line 8; “Thy pyramids built up with newer might” – Sonnet 123, line 2; “England shall give him office, honour, might” – 2 Henry IV, 4.5.129; “the might of it” – i.e., the might and power of the crown, 2 Henry IV, 4.5.173


SO LOVE BE THOU = so, royal son, be your royal self, since you are you; “This is I, Hamlet the Dane!” – Hamlet, 5.1.255; “But he that writes of you, if he can tell/ That you are you, so dignifies his story” – Sonnet 84, lines 7-8; act like the king you are, and go along with this decision to save your life; in giving up the throne, you help England avoid civil war, and you will gain your life and freedom

Queen Elizabeth I


HUNGRY EYES = royal eyes wanting to be who he is; WINK WITH FULLNESS = close or shut because of the power of the sun or royal light; echoing the “winking” of Southampton’s royal eyes or stars or suns;


TOMORROW SEE AGAIN = stay alive and use your kingly eyes once more; KILL = destroy; echoing the execution of Southampton, still a possibility, with Oxford urging his son to accept the terms of the “ransom” and, thereby, to save himself from being killed.


THE SPIRIT OF LOVE = the sacredness of your royal blood (which is the essential and vital part of you); “Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame” – Sonnet 128, line 1, to Elizabeth, referring to her waste of Southampton’s “spirit of love” or royal blood; Essex in 1597 wrote to Elizabeth thanking her for her “sweet letters, indited by the Spirit of spirits”; PERPETUAL DULLNESS = eternal shame; perpetual confinement in the Tower; eternal death


THIS SAD INTERIM = this sorrowful time of your imprisonment (which hopefully is only temporary); OCEAN = kingly; royal blood“Here, then, we have Shakespeare typifying his Friend variously as a sun, a god, an ocean or a sea: three familiar metaphors which he and his contemporaries use to represent a sovereign prince or king” – Leslie Hotson, Mr. W. H., 1964
“Even to our Ocean, to our great King John” – King John, 5.4.57; “The tide of blood in me … shall mingle with the state of floods and flow henceforth in formal majesty” – 2 Henry IV, 5.2.129; “A substitute shines brightly as a king, until a king be by, and then his state empties itself, as doth an inland brook into the main of waters” – The Merchant of Venice, 5.1.94-97; poets alluded to Elizabeth as “Cynthia, Queen of Seas and Lands” – Roy Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth, 52; “Thou art, quoth she, a sea, a sovereign king;/ And lo, there falls into thy boundless flood/ Black lust, dishonour, shame” – Lucrece, 652

The Tower: the official prison-fortress of the monarch


CONTRACTED NEW = come together again; “But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes” – Sonnet 1, line 5; Oxford and his royal son, envisioned as newly contracted


COME DAILY = like these verses written daily; echoing the “daily” or day-by-day experience of his son in prison; like the tide coming daily to the banks of these “pyramids” or sonnets, as in “No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!  Thy pyramids built up with newer might/ To me are nothing novel, nothing strange” – Sonnet 123, lines 1-3; “Thus they do, sir;
they take the flow of the Nile by certain scales in the pyramid” – Antony and Cleopatra, 2.7.17-18


RETURN OF LOVE = return of royal blood; i.e., when Southampton finally emerges from the Tower, he will be alive and so will his great gift of “love” or royal blood still live; “So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,/ Comes home again, on better judgment making” – Sonnet 87, indicating “misprision” of treason as the new, lesser verdict that will allow Southampton to “come home again” as a free man; BLEST = full of Southampton’s royal and divine blessings; “the blessed sun of heaven” – Falstaff of Prince Hal in 1 Henry IV, 2.4.403


WINTER = the present time, early March of 1601; this miserable time of your imprisonment and possible death; “How like a Winter hath my absence been/ From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year” – Sonnet 97, lines 1-2, corresponding with February 8, 1602, and referring to her Majesty’s “pleasure” or command; and with “fleeting” meaning “imprisoned,” echoing the Fleet Prison; “Three winters cold … /Since first I saw you fresh” – Sonnet 104, lines 3-8, corresponding to February 8, 1603, the third winter of Southampton’s confinement; i.e., this entire time of your confinement is a winter; FULL OF CARE = full of Oxford’s care for him, to save his life; “Thou best of dearest, and mine only care” – Sonnet 48, line 7

The White Tower, where Southampton was imprisoned


SUMMER’S WELCOME = the welcoming of the golden time of the king, of Southampton as prince, his return to freedom; “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day … And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date … But thy eternal Summer shall not fade” – Sonnet 18, lines 1, 4, 9; THRICE = related to the Trinity and also to the previously potential royal family (which is no longer possible) of Elizabeth and Oxford and Southampton; MORE RARE = more royal; “Beauty, Truth, and Rarity,/ Grace in all simplicity” – the royal family of Elizabeth, Oxford and Southampton in The Phoenix and Turtle, 1601, 53-5, being written about now in early 1601

“‘Gainst Death and All-Oblivious Enmity Shall You Pace Forth!” – Sonnet 55 – The Living Record – Chapter 50 – Words to a Prince

Sonnet 55
The Living Record of Your Memory
8 March 1601

“This is a continuation of Sonnet 54” – Dowden, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, 1881

Southampton in the Tower 1601-1603: Is he not presenting himself here as a prince?

With his son still facing execution, Oxford vows to create “the living record” of Southampton to be preserved “in the eyes of all posterity.” Along with Sonnet 81, this verse is a declaration of his utter commitment to making sure the truth about Henry Wriothesley will be known by future generations.  The “living record” of him (the story of his royal life until the fate of the Tudor dynasty is sealed) will be preserved for future readers within the tomb of the monument.  The tomb contains a womb of verse in which he is still “living” and growing in real time with this diary, the outcome of which remains

(“This is clearly addressed to a prince” – Ogburn & Ogburn, This Star of England, 1952 – and I hereby add my complete agreement.  In fact we can hear Oxford in the first two lines saying, in effect, that his son – Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton – is a prince who will have a monument outliving those built for all OTHER princes.)
Not marble nor the gilded monument(s)
Of Princes shall outlive 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 judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.


GILDED MONUMENT(S) = gilded tombs of English monarchs, many made of marble; most modern editors emend “monument” to the plural, but in fact Oxford used the singular on other occasions:

“Again we see if our friends be dead, we cannot show or declare our affection more than by erecting them of tombs: Whereby when they be dead indeed, yet make we them live, as it were, again through their monument.  But with me behold it happeneth far better, for in your lifetime I shall erect you such a monument that, as I say, in your lifetime, you shall see how noble a shadow of your virtuous life shall hereafter remain when you are dead and gone.  And in your lifetime, again I say, I shall give you that monument and remembrance of your life whereby I may declare my goodwill…”
Oxford’s Prefatory Letter to Cardanus’ Comfort, 1573

A beheading on Tower Hill

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read        Sonnet 81, lines 9-10

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ creats and tombs of brass are spent    Sonnet 107, lines 13-14

Ever belov’d and loving may his rule be;
And when old time shall lead him to his end,
Goodness and he fill up one monument!        Henry VIII, 2.1.92-94

This grave shall have a living monument.     Hamlet, 5.1.297


PRINCES = Kings or Queens, including Elizabeth, who referred to herself as Prince of England; THIS POWERFUL RHYME = this monument of the Sonnets, which contains your “power” as a prince or king: “O Thou my lovely Boy, who in thy power” – Sonnet 126, line 1; “The King with mighty and quick-raised power” – 1 Henry IV, 4.4.12


YOU SHALL SHINE = like a king; “Even so my Sunne one early morn did shine” – Sonnet 33, line 9; MORE BRIGHT = more royally; “A substitute shines brightly as a king” – Merchant of Venice, 5.1.94 “Yet looks he like a king; behold, his eye, as bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth controlling majesty” – Richard II, 3.3.68-70; “Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine, his honour and the greatness of his name shall be” – Henry VIII, 5.5.50-52, Cranmer, speaking of a future son and royal heir of Queen Elizabeth (in a passage that has been thought to refer to King James, but the context of the speech clearly refers to an “heir” to arise from the Queen’s blood and ashes; IN THESE CONTENTS = in what is contained in these private verses written according to time; “The phrase carries a suggestion of ‘in this coffin’” – Booth; “That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,/ Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew” – Sonnet 86, lines 3-4; “Within thine own bud buriest thy content” – Sonnet 1, line 11, i.e., his substance or royal blood


THAN UNSWEPT STONE, etc. = than stones that crumble in the course of time; “I will not ruinate my father’s house, who gave his blood to lime the stones together” – 3 Henry VI, 5.1.85-86; SLUTTISH = unclean, nasty; TIME = the ongoing withering of Elizabeth’s mortal life, i.e., mortal time


WHEN WASTEFUL, etc. = when destructive wars overturn the statues of defeated kings


BROILS = conflicts, disorders, wars; alluding to possible civil war over the throne; and to avoid such calamity for England he is counseling his royal son to renounce the crown


NOR/NOR = neither/nor; “Now have I brought a work to end which neither Jove’s fierce wrath/ Nor sword, nor fire, nor fretting age with all the force it hath/ Are able to abolish quite” – Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book XV, 984-986, as translated (1567) by Arthur Golding, uncle of Edward de Vere, who may have produced the translation himself


The Sonnets are to become the living record of Southampton, for posterity; the verses are the womb in which he is reborn and grows; this diary, which is recording his life in real time and preserving it for future generations; LIVING = the dynamic nature of these verses, which are being written in relation to the calendar of the reign, i.e., the diary is aimed at the royal succession upon the death of the Queen, but exactly when she will die is unknown; (in fact she will die when Southampton is still in the Tower and James of Scotland will succeed to the throne, so the diary will continue until Elizabeth’s funeral, marking the official end of her Tudor dynasty); “Save men’s opinions and my living blood” – Richard II, 3.1.26


ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for One; ALL OBLIVIOUS = forgetful of you; “So you being sick of too much doubt in your own proceedings, through which infirmity you are desirous to bury and ensevel your works in the grave of oblivion” – Oxford’s Prefatory Letter to Cardanus Comfort, 1573, addressed to translator Thomas Bedingfield; ENMITY = contempt for you and your royal blood


SHALL = echoing “all” for Southampton; PACE = step, march, walk; echoing the stately, formal pace of a king, in majesty; SHALL YOU PACE FORTH = shall you emerge in glory as king; FORTH = as in “setting forth” in the 1609 dedication of the Sonnets; FORTH = “out from confinement or indistinction into open view” – Schmidt; “Caesar shall forth” – Julius Caesar, 2.2.10; “an hour before the worshipped sun peered forth the golden window of the east” – Romeo and Juliet, 1.1.118-119; also, to bring forth is to beget, procreate; YOUR PRAISE = recognition and praise of you as king; “The pain be mine, but thine shall be the praise” – Sonnet 38, line 14, upon the trial when Southampton was convicted of high treason and condemned to death; STILL = always, eternally; FIND ROOM = find the place where your throne is; ROOM = room to be who he is; freedom from imprisonment and freedom from censorship or obliteration of his identity as prince; “Grief fills the room up of my absent child” – King John, 3.3.93; “To take their rooms ere I can plant myself” – 3 Henry VI, 3.2.132


EVEN IN THE EYES = in the very eyes of subjects; ALL = Southampton, One for All, All for One; ALL POSTERITY = the entire world in generations to come; descendants; succeeding generations, future times; “Now that Henry’s dead, posterity, await for wretched years” – 1 Henry VI, 1.1.47-48; “Methinks the truth should live from age to age, as ‘twere retailed to all posterity” – Richard III, 3.1.76-77; “Beauty, Truth and Rarity,/ Grace in all simplicity,/ Here in cinders lie./ Death is now the Phoenix nest,/ And the Turtle’s loyal breast/ To eternity doth rest./ Leaving no posterity,/ ‘Twas not their infirmity,/ It was married chastity” – The Phoenix and Turtle, 1601, as by “William Shake-Speare”, lines 53-61

The father, all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity                The Winter’s Tale, 4.4.410-411


That continue to the end of the world; “And we’ll wear out in a walled prison packs and sects of great ones that ebb and flow by the moon” – King Lear, 5.3.17-19, glancing at Elizabeth, the Moon goddess; also Southampton is “the world” itself, as Gloucester depicts the King: “O ruined piece of nature, this great world shall so wear out to naught” – King Lear, 4.6.130-31; ENDING DOOM = the Last Judgment; end of the Tudor Rose dynasty; “Thy end is Truth’s and Beauty’s doom and date” – Sonnet 14, line 14; echoing the possibility that Southampton will be executed and/or left in prison for life; “Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” – Sonnet 107, line 1

“And all the world shall never/ Be able for to quench my name” – Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book XV, 990-991, translated by Oxford’s uncle Arthur Golding (1567) or by the young earl himself


TILL THE JUDGMENT = the rendering of you (the Audit of Southampton’s royal blood, in the future, to be forecast in the envoy, when nature’s final accounting “though delayed, answered must be, and her Quietus is to render thee” – Sonnet 126, lines 11-12); as opposed to the judgment of the tribunal at the trial; “So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,/ Comes home again, on better judgment making” – Sonnet 87, lines 11-12, when the judgment has been changed for the better from treason to misprision of treason; “His royal self in judgment comes to hear the cause betwixt her and this great offender” – Henry VIII, 5.2.154-155; THAT YOURSELF ARISE = that you ascend to the throne, rising like the sun, in the eyes of people in the future, i.e., in posterity; (“Till the decree of the judgment-day that you arise from the dead” – Dowden); a Christ-like Resurrection of the royal son or Sunne: “Even so my Sunne one early morn did shine” – Sonnet 33, line 9; “For as the Sun is daily new and old” – Sonnet 76, line 14


YOU LIVE IN THIS = you continue to live in this monument of verse, growing in the womb of its tomb, by time recorded in this diary; you and your life and your blood are preserved; THIS = this verse; “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,/ So long lives this, and this gives life to thee” – Sonnet 18, lines 13-14; AND DWELL IN LOVERS’ EYES = and live in the eyes of your parents and all others who will appear, as subjects and friends, to adore you as king; “I tell thee, fellow, thy general is my lover” – Menenius Agrippa in Coriolanus, 5.2.14; IN LOVERS’ EYES = “You will be read by persons who will love you, though dead, as men love you in life” – Tucker.

Leslie Hotson observes in Mr. W. H., 1965, that the image of the Fair Youth is that of a “Sun” and a “God” and an “Ocean.”   And he states:

“It is well known that, following a general Renaissance practice drawn from antiquity, kings commonly figured as earthly ‘suns’ in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries … ‘Gods on earth’ was proverbially used of kings as far back as Menander, and is frequent in Shakespeare … ‘Ocean’ or ‘sea’ as a figure for ‘king’ is often found in Shakespeare and his fellow-writers.

“Here, then, we have Shakespeare typifying his Friend variously as a sun, a god, an ocean or a sea: three familiar metaphors which he and his contemporaries use to represent a sovereign prince or king … Whatever may be meant by it here in the Sonnets, the Shakespearean and Elizabethan element common to the three is certainly king, and the metaphors exhibit a consistency of reference.”

He finds various usages in the Sonnets of succession, heir and issue, noting that these are terms that the same author “elsewhere applies to the paramount problems of royalty.” He notes that in Sonnet 9 “his Friend dying a bachelor without issue will leave the world his widow, contrasted by the poet with every private widow – that is, the widow of ‘a private man’ as distinguished from a ruler, a king.

Hotson reads  Sonnet 14 in which “again Shakespeare presents his friend as a prince” whose fortune he is unable to foretell.   He also notes the poet’s direct usage of sovereign and king to describe the Fair Youth.

This “sustained and unmistakable” royal language in the Sonnets, writes Hotson, makes it obvious that “what he sets before us” is an array of powers “peculiar to a king: power to grant charters of privilege and letters patent, power to pardon crimes – in short, the exclusively royal prerogative.”  And in other verses we “need no reminder that it was to the king, and to no mortal but the king, that his dutiful subjects and vassals offered oblations; similarly, that it was only to the monarch or ruling magistrate that embassies were directed.”

Hotson notes the poet’s use of largess and bounty, writing: “Of the first it is significant to note that in his other works Shakespeare applies largess only to the gifts or donatives of kings.  As for bounty, the poet’s attribution of this grace to kings, while not exclusive, is characteristic … In the same way we recognize grace, state, and glory typically in Shakespeare’s kings.”

And finally he points to the explicit usages in the Sonnets of king and kingdoms.

“Clearly these consenting terms … cannot be dismissed as scattered surface-ornament.  They are intrinsic.  What is more, they intensify each other.  By direct address, by varied metaphor, and by multifarious allusion, the description of the Friend communicated is always one: monarch, sovereign prince, king.

Of course Hotson was unable to find such a prince — a convincing one, at any rate; and the reason, I would argue, is that he was looking at the sonnets (and at the contemporary history) with the wrong author in mind!

“My Grief Lies Onward … From Where Thou Art … Up-Locked … Imprisoned” – Sonnets 51, 52, 53 – The Living Record, Chapter 47

I include Shakespeare’s Sonnets 50-51-52 all at once because of their obvious relationship to each other, like successive chapters of a novel — as set forth in my edition of the sonnets THE MONUMENT and dramatized in the 90-minute solo show SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON.



Southampton was lodged in the White Tower (1601-1603)

Sonnet 50
My Grief Lies Onward
3 March 1601

Oxford rides away from the Tower of London and back to his home in Hackney, knowing he will grieve over Southampton’s execution or, even if he lives, over his loss of the throne.  His joy lies behind him, in past times, and literally in the prison.  In this sonnet Oxford describes his five-mile journey on horseback from the Tower and from a crucial visit with Southampton, to whom he would have explained the “league” or agreement to spare him from execution, requiring a forfeiture of any claim as King Henry IX.

How heavy do I journey on the way
When what I seek (my weary travel’s end)
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
“Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend.”

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods duly on to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider loved not speed being made from thee:

The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;

For that same groan doth put this in my mind:
My grief lies onward and my joy behind.

Heavy … Woe … Bloody … Groan … Groan … Grief – Anticipating the death of Southampton, his royal son, by bloody execution.  (Meanwhile the young earl is “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” – Sonnet 107)



Oxford, as Lord Great Chamberlain, would have had access to Southampton in the Tower

Sonnet 51
From Where Thou Art
4 March 1601

Oxford again describes his return home, to King’s Place in Hackney, after visiting with Southampton in the Tower – undoubtedly to discuss details of the bargain he has been making for him, involving the “excuse” for his “offence” being argued on his behalf.

Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed:
From where thou art, why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.

O what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know;

Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire (of perfect’st love being made)
Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race,
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade:

Since from thee going he went willful slow,
Towards thee I’ll run, and give him leave to go.

Offence … Excuse … Excuse – legal terms echoing Oxford’s attempts behind the scenes to act as Southampton’s legal counsel



Robert Cecil would have wanted Oxford to visit Southampton, to persuade him to give up any royal claim in return for the promise of freedom once James of Scotland became King of England

Sonnet 52
“Up-Locked … Imprisoned”
5 March 1601

Oxford recalls his visit to Southampton in the Tower.

An Elizabethan Chronicle, March 5, 1601“Today Sir Christopher Blount, Sir Charles Danvers, Sir John Davis, Sir Gelly Merrick and Henry Cuffe were arraigned at Westminster for high treason before the commissioners … They pleaded not guilty to the indictment as a whole, and a substantial jury was impanelled which consisted of aldermen of London and other gentlemen of good credit.  They confessed indeed that it was their design to come to the Queen with so strong a force that they might not be resisted, and to require of her divers conditions and alterations of government; nevertheless they intended no personal harm to the Queen herself … When all the evidence was done, the jury went out to agree upon their verdict, which after half an hour’s time and more they brought in and found every man of the five prisoners severally guilty of high treason.”

The “up-locked” treasure is his son’s royal blood, imprisoned.

So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure;

Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
Since seldom coming in the long year set,
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
Or captain Jewels in the carcanet.

So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,
To make some special instant special blest
By new unfolding his imprisoned pride.

Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.

“Thus did I keep my person fresh and new,
My presence, like a robe pontifical,
Ne’er seen but wondered at, and so my state,
Seldom, but sumptuous, show’d like a feast,
And wan by rareness such solemnity
– The King in 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-59

%d bloggers like this: