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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0138.  Tuesday, 27 February 1996.

(1)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Feb 1996 21:14:59 -0800
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy

(2)     From:   W. Russell Mayes <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Feb 1996 09:23:45 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0135  Re: Funeral Elegy


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 Feb 1996 21:14:59 -0800
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

Because the Funeral Elegy was signed W.S., it doesn't mean we can conclude that
the author's name was Wilber Samson, Walter Smith, or William Shakespeare, or
any name that accounts for the W.S. initials.  We've been fooled by that
before.

The STC gives us John Fletcher to be A.D., Thomas Dekker to be P., Claude
Desainliens to be Mr. C.H., J. Price to be J.S., Matthew Sutcliffe to be O.E.,
William Wright to be W.G., and many more of the same, making no match between
the name of a writer and the initials given on the book.

Maybe someone with different initials wrote the Elegy.  Or maybe the initials
W.S. match the name of someone we don't know about, someone who paid to have
the elegy written.  We don't know yet, and it seems prudent to doubt that this
third-rate poetry is by Shakespeare, and to be very, very slow about accepting
the word of Shaxicon that it's so.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. Russell Mayes <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Feb 1996 09:23:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0135  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0135  Re: Funeral Elegy

Richard Kennedy writes:

> I'm quite serious, do you suppose there were professional Elegy writers? Maybe
> they got paid by the line, and maybe Chapman, being busy with high-class
> poetry, hired one to do 600 lines for Prince Henry. Or maybe the King hired
> someone to write this awful thing and put Chapman's name on it. Or maybe it
> was worse than that.

I don't know if there were "professional elegy writers" (the "dreary fellows"
of Kennedy's next paragraph), but I do know that there are many competent, if
not excellent, elegies written in the 17th century.  Carew's elegy on Donne,
comes to mind, as do many of Jonson's elegaic poems, ranging from the brief
epigraph on the death of his first son to the longer "Cary-Morrison Ode."  Of
course, none of these are nearly as long as Chapman's or WS's, but they are
examples of elegaic poems that wouldn't hurt the poet's reputation.

W. Russell Mayes, Jr.
Department of Literature and Language
University of North Carolina at Asheville
 

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