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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: July ::
Re: Identity of W.S.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1611  Tuesday, 9 July 2002

From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Monday, 08 Jul 2002 18:17:35 -0600
Subject: 13.1602 Re: Identity of W.S.
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1602 Re: Identity of W.S.

With the help of Ed Taft's careful analysis as well as suggestions made
by Sean Lawrence, I have read "A Funeral Elegy" with more intense
attention than I had ever planned to.  In fact, I'm surprised at the
intensity of discussion to which we've subjected the poem, given that it
now appears not to be by Shakespeare.  With that in mind, I'll try to
make my comments brief.

As for Ford's religious views (given the evidence that Ford is the
author), I would defer to Gilles Monsarrat, whose article on "A Funeral
Elegy" prompted the recent retractions and reevalutions of the poem.
Monsarrat gives evidence of Ford's essential religious orthodoxy, at
least in his early non-dramatic poetry.

As Ed Taft points out, I don't find Bevington's paraphrase of lines
561ff.  particularly problematic.  The only serious flaw is Bevington's
use of "some indefinable" to modify "hope."  "Some indefinable" does not
paraphrase what the lines actually say but seems to me to awkwardly
express Bevington's difficulty in pinning down what the word "Hope" is
referring to: i.e., "hope--I'm not sure for what, but I think probably
of seeing William Peter after death."

Otherwise, I think it's a decent paraphrase, though "fully" doesn't
entirely capture the implications of "in full possession" and the
paraphrase changes "detain'd" to "deprived."  By making that change--
and also by dropping or modifying the specifically temporal language in
a couple of other lines ("Before it may enjoy" and "the
while")--Bevington obscures the poem's reference to anticipated future
enjoyment.  But he partly makes up for that distortion by adding "now"
("deprived as I now am").

I'm grateful for Ed's summary of standard expectations for an elegy.
Whether Ford failed to meet all of the expectations out of ineptitude or
eccentricity, or to communicate a subtle message, or for some other
reason, I don't know.

Bruce Young

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