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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Roses
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1305  Monday, 8 August 2005

[1]     From:   Richard Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Aug 2005 20:03:59 -0700
        Subj:   Roses

[2]     From:   Peter Farey <
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        Date:   Saturday, 6 Aug 2005 07:35:05 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1297 Roses


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Aug 2005 20:03:59 -0700
Subject:        Roses

Roses, Pt.3

Tricking about with the name of Wriothesley is nothing new. The Rose
imagery has been tricked out to mean the Third Earl of Pembroke, one of
his titles being Lord Ros of Kendal.  Another attempt was to make out
"beauties Rose" of the first sonnet to be Robert Devereux, Third Earl of
Essex, taking "Rose" to cipher out as "Ro.Es."

Puzzling about with the Sonnets is something of an academic parlor game.
Everyone makes a guess about who the Fair Youth was, the Rival Poet, the
Dark Lady. Elizabethan poetry is packed with puzzles, and the Sonnets
are the enigmatic pattern of the age in that respect. The usual suspects
are rounded up time and time again, and maybe someday the man from
Stratford can be placed in room with the young Lord Southampton.

However, it's not likely, as noted by James Boswell, who wrote, "In the
reign of Elizabeth, the distinctions of rank...were so scrupulously
maintained, that it is difficult to believe that Shakespeare, in a
comparatively humble situation of life, would have presumed to employ
terms of such familiarity, and even, in one instance [evidently 20], of
such grossness, when writing to a distinguished nobleman, his patron, or
would have ventured to remonstrate with him on a topic which an equal
would scarcely have found himself at liberty to touch upon..."  (Rollins
186)

Number 20 is the "prick" sonnet, not one of the so-called "marriage
sonnets," the set of 17 which begin the whole cycle of sonnets,
admonishing the addressee to get married.

These sonnets quit the subject abruptly with no segue at all, as if they
might have been written at a different time of the rest, or to a
different person. But could this person have been an Earl of the realm,
and again we are answered by another scholar of these riddling poems,
who wrote that Southampton "was one of the greatest peers in
England...such addresses [in the sonnets] from a player, however
fashionable, to a patron, however complaisant, were simply impossible."
(Rollins 191)

The outcome seems to be that there is no certainly about how Wriothesley
was pronounced, and that an unlikely fiction must be found to place
Shakespeare and the young lord in some sort of closeted company. If
Martin Green wants a reasonable story of Shakespeare's gayhood, he might
look about the theater companies, plenty of boys there if the poet had
such an interest.

Anyone can single out a word or a phrase to hold his position regarding
the meaning of these poems. The Sonnet Industry is fueled by quibbles,
and the poems may have some homosexual quibbles to be quibbled. Maybe
Shakespeare was gay, on and off, it's likely enough, but Mr. Stratford
can hardly be quibbled into the boy's bedchamber, it's a bugger of a
problem.

The quotation page numbers are from Rollins, Hyder Edward (ed) A New
Variorum Edition of Shakespeare:  The Sonnets. Volume II. Philadelphia &
London, 1944.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Farey <
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Date:           Saturday, 6 Aug 2005 07:35:05 +0100
Subject: 16.1297 Roses
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1297 Roses

According to Peter Bridgeman:

 >Whoever commissioned the first 17 Sonnets wanted the marriage.
 >In 1590, when Henry was seventeen, his guardian Lord Burghley (Henry
 >had been forcibly removed from his Catholic mother and Southampton
 >House to be brought up a Protestant) tried to marry off his fifteen
 >year old grand-daughter Elizabeth Vere to the young Earl.  Henry's
 >mother Mary, who was in favour of the marriage, probably contacted
 >Shakespeare, through a mutual Catholic acquaintance, to commission
 >these Sonnets.

One of Lord Burghley's secretaries, John Clapham, seems to have had a
similar commission in 1591, which resulted in his poem "Narcissus",
dedicated to the young Earl and apparently sub-titled "Short and Moral
Description of Youthful Love and Especially Self-Love".

This being so, wouldn't Burghley himself have been the more likely
commissioner both of this and the 17 sonnets and, as they are 17 in
number, at the time of Southampton's 17th birthday in October 1590?

On the other hand, if this were so, what on earth would make him employ
for this task an unknown actor with little if any track record, when he
probably had within his circle of intelligencers one of the best
exponents of the iambic pentameter in the country, Christopher Marlowe?

Peter Farey

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