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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: March ::
Re: Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0228.  Wednesday, 20 March 1996.

(1)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Saturday, 16 March 1996 5:17pm ET
        Subj:   SHK 7.0214  Re: Funeral Elegy (a

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 17 Mar 1996 17:38:37 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0214  Re: Funeral Elegy (and Sonnets)

(3)     From:   Joseph M Green <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 16:57:30 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0222  Re: Funeral Elegy

(4)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 17:52:06 -0800
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy

(5)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 22:23:01 -0800
        Subj:   Dr. Dodypoll


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Saturday, 16 March 1996 5:17pm ET
Subject: Re: Funeral Elegy (a
Comment:        SHK 7.0214  Re: Funeral Elegy (a

Is the matter of while/whiles/whilst/whilest a potential authorial signature,
or is the record too contaminated by scribal and compositorial variation to be
useful in this connection?  I note that all 4 variants are monosyllabic, so the
choice has no metrical significance; the additional consonants would affect the
flow of the sound a bit.  At a quick glance, I can't discern any obvious
patterns, such as the use of one or another form before a word starting with a
consonant (though all 11 of the instances of whilest in Spevack precede
pronominal forms).  As so often, a few minutes with the concordance and the
complexities begin to multiply; for example Spevack does not discriminate
between "while" by itself, "a while," and "the while," and lists "awhile" as a
separate form.  Nor does Spevak more generally try to discriminate among
substantive, adverbial, and conjunctive uses.   Tracing the relationships among
these forms and trying to sort out the effects of regional and social
variations would be an onerous task.  All these complexities help explain why
the spellings in and of themselves won't do the kind of work Richard J. Kennedy
puts them to.

Just whiling (whilesing, whilsting, whilesting) away the time,
Dave Evett

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 17 Mar 1996 17:38:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0214  Re: Funeral Elegy (and Sonnets)
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0214  Re: Funeral Elegy (and Sonnets)

Regarding "whiles,"  Don Foster sends me the following which supplements my
former posting:

"Note that "whiles" appears in all or most of those texts that are thought to
have been prepared from Shakespeare's own papers--and in the only extant MS in
Shakespeare's own hand (Hand D, STM), neither *while* nor *whilest* nor
*whilst* appears--only *whiles*."

Spevack does note the *Sir Thomas More* line: "whiles they are o'er the bank of
their obedience."  So Don hints that Shakespeare may have preferred "whiles" in
his manuscripts, a usage modernized by scribes and compositors. And all the
evidence seems to suggest that this modernization process was not unusual in
sixteenth and seventeenth century England.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 16:57:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0222  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0222  Re: Funeral Elegy

I hope that I am not the first to point out that the elegy is obviously a
forgery committed by the Dark Lady of the Sonnets that was understood by its
understanders as Shakespeare's lament over his failed sexual powers.  The title
gives it away and the Dark Lady would be just cunning enough to have this
forgery printed.  Life ran high in those days.

And, although I feel that Richard Kennedy's poem is vastly superior to the
elegy and that the only way Shakespeare could have written the elegy is to have
initiated a new type of "plain style" which required writing as if you had
recently suffered a cerebral accident, I must side with those who attribute
that poem to Will because I have just learned that Stephen Greenblatt himself
(so careful of the type) will include it in the NORTON.

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 17:52:06 -0800
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

In comparing the Funeral Elegy with the first 578 lines of the Sonnets, I
noticed that Shakespeare only twice began a line with "of".  W.S. did it 30
times.

Don Foster answered (13 March) that this difference is because the Elegy is
highly enjambed, many more lines carried over than is normal for Shakespeare.
I understand.  A line carried over must begin with > something<, and most often
a little word serves.  And so, says Foster, that explains this huge difference
-- Elegy 30, Sonnets 2.

I also noticed that the word "and" was skewed in its use  It's another of those
little words that help to carry over a line. According to Foster's theory, the
Elegy should use "and" to initiate a carry over line considerably more often
than Shakespeare, such as the case for "of".  But it doesn't.  The Elegy only
uses "and" in this place 28 times, and the Sonnets 66.  That's retrograde to
Foster's argument.  Foster's rule of enjambment holds up for "of", but fails
for "and" in comparison with the first 578 lines of the Sonnets.

The outcome seems to be that the unknown W.S. was fond of carrying over a line
with "in", but Shakespeare shunned that word, favoring "and" for the use.

The Funeral Elegy and the Sonnets are parted by several other stylistic
differences as well, which have been noticed but not explained.  For example,
why such a great difference between the use of 4 syllable words?  Elegy 75,
Sonnets (first 578 lines) 15.  That seems an excellent word-print.

I might add to that:                            4 syllable words

Funeral Elegy 578 lines.                        75
Venus and Adonis 578 lines                      11
The Rape of Lucrece 578 lines                   19
The LAST 578 lines of the Sonnets               14

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Mar 1996 22:23:01 -0800
Subject:        Dr. Dodypoll

Sydney Kasten brings up a good point about The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll.
It's anonymous and I say it's very like Shakespeare.  I agree with Kasten that
we've got to be very careful when we're examining Elizabethan poetry and plays.
Ben Jonson thought so, too.  He prefaced the quarto edition of The Alchemist
with this:

        "TO THE READER --  if thou beest more, thou art an
        understander, and then I trust thee.  If thou art one
        that tak'st up, and but a pretender, beware at what
        hands thou receiv'st thy commodity's, for thou wert
        never more fair in the way to be coz'ned than in this
        age of poetry, especially in plays...."

That's either a warning not to meddle too much, or an invitation to a
masquerade party.  Doctor Dodypoll is one of the literary puzzles quite common
back then.  Evidently it played well.  I say it's Shakespeare.  Please answer
personal if someone would be willing to type it up, possibly we could post it.
 

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