2011

A Discovery

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0118  Sunday, 12 June 2011

From:         Ward Elliott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         June 11, 2011 7:45:02 PM EDT
Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Friday, 10 June 2011

Mark Fenton (SHK 22.0115 Thursday, 10 June 2011) speculates that Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107 might be a “missing song (or poem)” about the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, referred to in Henry Chettle’s England’s Mourning Garment.  He adds:  “In Elizabethan times songs were also considered to mean poems.”  I have no opinion on Chettle’s intentions and suppose that the word “song” could plausibly refer to a poem.  It’s hard to imagine that The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was intended to be sung, though, in fact, John Craton has set it to music for tenor and strings.  http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/The-Love-Song-of-J-Alfred-Prufrock/17472120.   For Eliot’s own inspired reading, consult  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXsItbsr4o0.

But it seems to me that for Shakespeare himself the categories of verse and song were quite distinct, with surprisingly little overlap; that his plays (but not his poems) have plenty of songs and song references; that songs only amount to about 2-3% of his play verse; and that they are never, or almost never, written in his normal, verse meter of iambic pentameter (I-5).  My sense is that about 70% of Shakespeare’s play lines are verse; about 95% of his play verse lines are (I-5), and maybe half of the rest are songs, 2 percent if you don’t count the witches’ lines in Macbeth as songs, 3 percent if you do. Let’s suppose, conservatively, that you don’t, that you find 986 lines of arguable songs in the plays, and that four of these, at most, are in I-5:

Full merrily the humble-bee doth sing,
Till he hath lost his honey and his sting;
And being once subdu’d in armed tail,
Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail.
Tro. 5.10.41

I say “at most” because, though this passage is listed in Tucker Brooke’s The Shakespeare Songs, 1929, and also in the Riverside Shakespeare’s Index to First Lines of Songs and Snatches, it seems to me unlikely that Shakespeare expected it to be sung.  It is taken from Pandarus’ raunchy quasi-epilogue to the audience in Troilus and Cressida, helping him manage an otherwise over-abrupt transition from his earlier signature prose, to bawdy verse better suited for winding up the scene and the play.  Here is the full context from Scene 10.  Pandarus, alone on the stage, assumes the role of a chorus:

   <Pan.> A goodly medicine for my aching bones!
O world, world, [world!] thus is the poor agent
despis’d!  O [traders] and bawds, how earnestly are
you set a-work, and how ill requited! Why should our
endeavor be so lov’d and the performance so loath’d?
What verse for it? What instance for it? Let me see:
      Full merrily the humble-bee doth sing,
      Till he hath lost his honey and his sting;
      And being once subdu’d in armed tail,
      Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail.
Good traders in the flesh, set this in your painted cloths:
As many as be here of Pandar’s hall,
Your eyes, half out, weep out at Pandar’s fall;
Or if you cannot weep, yet give some groans,
Though not for me, yet for [your] aching bones.
Brethren and sisters of the hold-[door] trade,
Some two months hence my will shall here be made.
It should be now, but that my fear is this,
Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss.
Till then I’ll sweat and seek about for eases,
And at that time bequeath you my diseases. <Exit> 
Tro. 5.10-38-56
 

Pandarus announces his transition to verse, using the word “verse,” not “song,” comes out with a trial set of four impeccable, suggestive I-5 lines about the humble-bee, sputters through a not-so-impeccable I-6 and an I-4, and finally finishes up the play with nine more lines of lewd patter about prostitutes and venereal disease, all in irreproachable I-5.  If I were playing the part, it would seem to me as incongruous to sing, rather than recite, the four humble-bee lines as to sing, rather than recite, the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Of course, such qualitative judgments should better be left to qualified SHAKSPERians and pros than to outside amateurs like me.  On the other hand, even if it is a song, it’s Shakespeare’s only song in I-5.  Every other Shakespeare song seems to be in a variety of other meters, mostly I-4 or a mixture of I-4 and I-3.  If so, no more than one Shakespeare song line in 200 is I-5. 

I would further suppose from skimming Ross Duffin’s Shakespeare’s Songbook, Norton, 2004, that what’s true of Shakespeare’s own songs is also true of the many songs by others that Shakespeare invokes or adapts.  Duffin (521-24) lists 218 such “citations” of 183 different songs.  Only one of the “citations” is found outside the plays (in The Rape of Lucrece), and only one is in I-5, (Fortune My Foe, Duffin 152-53).  Once again, the ratio of I-5 to non-I-5 is about one in 200. Could one infer from these numbers that, with the possible exception of Pandarus’s 29 words quoted above, and Fortune My Foe, neither Shakespeare nor the songwriters he seemed to know regarded I-5 as a suitable meter for songs?

It’s true that several 20th-century composers have set I-5 passages from Shakespeare to music: a handful of Sonnets and famous passages like “Tomorrow and tomorrow” or “How sweet the moonlight.”  The composers that come to mind are Kevin Olson, Nils Lindberg, Robert Applebaum, Dominick Argento, Håkan Parkman, Juhani Kumulainen, and Steve Stametz, all born since 1927, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1874-1958, and Frank Martin, 1890-1974.  I’m sure there are many more, but these may well  be enough for a placeholder.  Five of these actually started with a Sonnet, three with the same Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee?”  So it’s not true, as some have argued, that I-5 sonnets can’t be set to music.  On the other hand, if the ones I know are representative, composers had to wait till the 20thcentury before they could get audiences that would put up with I-5 in music, along with atonality and other 20th-century acquired tastes.  Most modern arrangements are still of the non- I-5 passages Shakespeare originally intended to be sung; I sometimes wonder whether these are not only more numerous, but also, Vaughan Williams’ matchless I-5 Serenade to Music (1938) aside, more popular and musically successful than the I-5 ones.

In sum, it looks to me as though Shakespeare loved I-5 for verse, but avoided it almost completely for songs.  Would he have been as annoyed with Serenade to Music as Robert Frost was with Randall Thompson’s masterful song-setting of The Pasture?  I hope not, but I can’t rule it out.  What was so of Shakespeare seems also to have been so of the songwriters he invoked in his plays, and it looks like there is still more than a grain of truth to it among modern composers.   The old ones avoided I-5, and even the modern ones still strongly prefer the same non-I-5 song meters that Shakespeare did.  Would this impression survive a closer look?  Is the same I-5 aversion also to be found with other poets and playwrights who also do song lyrics?  If so, are there good reasons for it?  I-5 seems like an inevitable default for English verse; why isn’t it inevitable for songs also?  Has anyone given this topic a closer look and written it up?  If so, I would like to hear more of it.
 
Ward Elliott
Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions
Claremont McKenna College

_______________________________________________________________
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

"Hamlet at Elsinore" to be Released on DVD


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0117  Sunday, 12 June 2011

From:         Patty Winter <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         June 11, 2011 12:18:02 AM EDT
Subject:      "Hamlet at Elsinore" to be Released on DVD

This is going to come as terrific—almost hard to believe—news to everyone who’s been waiting literally decades for a commercial release of this BBC television movie, which stars Christopher Plummer as Hamlet and Michael Caine as Horatio.  And yes, it was filmed at Kronborg Castle near Helsingor, Denmark.

http://www.bbcamericashop.com/blog/dvds-in-the-works/2011/05/13/hamlet-at-elsinore/

There’s a 9-minute behind-the-scenes video on that page (of unrestored clips; the DVD will be better quality), along with a link to the ordering page:

http://www.bbcamericashop.com/dvd/hamlet-at-elsinore-16015.html

You can’t actually order it yet, but you can sign up for an email alert when it’s available. Which, according to the above blog post, will be this fall.

This will be a Region 1 (North America) release by BBC America. Those of you in other areas may want to badger BBCA or Auntie Beeb to make it available in other countries.

It’s been a travesty that no film of Plummer’s Shakespeare work has been available commercially, considering that he is one of our finest living Shakespeare actors. I assume that the Stratford Festival will be releasing “The Tempest” at some point as they did with his performance in Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra” a couple of years ago. “The Tempest” has already been shown in theaters and on television in Canada, so a DVD must be in the works. Having this other example of his Shakespeare work from 45 years ago is wonderful.

On a personal level, I’m especially excited because this was the film that got me hooked on Shakespeare; I actually watched the whole three hours twice on two different nights when it aired on television in the San Francisco Bay Area—a reaction to be cherished in a teenager. :-)

Patty

_______________________________________________________________
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

A Discovery


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0115  Thursday, 10 June 2011

From:         Mark Fenton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:          June 9, 2011 11:37:16 PM EDT
Subject:      A Discovery

I've made a somewhat interesting discovery concerning the so-called 'missing song' that J. O. Halliwell originally found in the 19th century which readers on SHAKSPER may be interested in:

In the book or Tract entitled Shakespeare and the Armada subtitled A Discovery That Shakespeare Wrote One or More Ballads or Poems on The Spanish Armada. By J. O. Halliwell, Esq. Halliwell suggests the following:

Mourning Garment.

Nor doth the silver tongued Melicert,
Drop from his honeyed Muse one sable tear
To mourn her death that graced his desert,
And to his laies opened her Royal ear. (laies/Lays: songs, poems)
Shepheard remember our Elizabeth,
And sing her Rape, done by that Tarquin, Death. [Modernized English]

'These lines are very interesting, for they comprise the first direct evidence we possess that Elizabeth "graced his desert," and they also seem to imply that the poems of Shakespeare were familiar to that celebrated sovereign. There is, however, another notice of Shakespeare in the same work . . . '

I won't quote the whole section of England's Mourning Garment, as completely as does Halliwell, but will give the sections which are the most informative for the purposes of our investigation:

O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and think it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell us what thou hast observed in their sawes (sayings), seen in thy own experience, and heard of undoubted truths TOUCHING THOSE ACCIDENTS; for that they add, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza. [Modernized English]

'Now, when the context of the whole of this, and what follows in the original, is carefully examined, it cannot be questioned that the words those accidents, in the passage here / p.23 / given in facsimile, refer to the events of the attempted invasion of England by Spain in the year 1588. In short, it seems clear that Chettle refers to three writers who had written songs or poems, for poems were then not infrequently referred to as songs, on the Spanish Armada. That "smooth tongue Melicert" is the same poet elsewhere called by Chettle "silver tongued Melicert" may be safely conceded. Who the two were who are mentioned as Philesides and Meloebee I can hardly conjecture, but Chettle in the same work refers to "yong Moelibee" as a friend of Antihorace, who is unquestionably Decker. This "yong Moelibee"

Many a time Hath stoopt her Maiestie to grace your rime;

so probably he was not extremely, perhaps only comparatively, young in 1603.

It is most likely that any song written by Shakespeare on the Armada would have been composed not long after its dispersion, at the latest in the year 1589; and not at a later period, when the chief excitement raised by that event had passed away. We may also reasonably conclude that no production of the kind would have been published or known to Chettle as the work of Shakespeare, had not the latter been then in the metropolis. Let us hope that the song or poem itself may be discovered, and the following extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company, taken from / p.24 / transcripts made by Mr. Collier, may perhaps assist in the search.

But there was also in England's Mourning Garment a lesser known second reference to William Shakespeare aka 'Melicert':

O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolve us, and think it no unfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell us what thou hast observed in their sawes (sayings), seen in thy own experience, and heard of undoubted truths touching those accidents; for that they adde, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza. [Modernized English]

Note in the above paragraph the following words:

'...touching those accidents: for that they add, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.'

The words 'touching those accidents...' were referring to the accidental defeat of the Spanish Armada which occurred in 1588, and which consequently saved England. The real vanquisher in the end however, was not so much the English ships, but the weather which produced storms that almost totally wiped out the Spanish Armada, but even so, Queen Elizabeth's prestige at home in England, and within the surrounding European countries at that time, grew to enormous proportions because it was probably seen as an act of the almighty God, and that the Queen herself was a personal emissary sent from on high.

Note also here we have the use of the word 'songs' in the above paragraph. In Elizabethan times songs were also considered to mean poems, and it is these 'songs' or 'poems' or perhaps in the singular, 'song' or 'poem' because Henry Chettle doesn't divulge to us just how many songs/poems or song/poem were to be assigned to each of the above poets.

So it seems that Melicert, otherwise known as William Shakespeare, was according to Henry Chettle, the definite creator of at least one song or poem that was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I because of the then victory over the Spanish, even though it was by chance an 'accidental' defeat of the Spanish Armada.

But the problem here is that there are no known existing songs or poems or poem or any other recorded praise for Queen Elizabeth I by William Shakespeare regarding the Spanish Armada's defeat.

So where are we to find this elusive so-called song/poem?

Well it just so happens there is a song/poem written by William Shakespeare that deals with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, but to find it, we'll have to look in a place where one wouldn't normally look.

107

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul,
Of the wide world, dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage,
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,
Since spite of him I'll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes.
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.

Well there it is, but before anyone cares to input their views regarding this discovery, I must warn them that there are numerous other discoveries I've made that also point to the above hypothesis that sonnet 107 is the so-called "missing song". Some of my above-mentioned discoveries are much more revealing than this one small example. Around two dozen separate discoveries that together enhance the above's position that this sonnet indeed points to the year 1588 as a euphoric remembrance of the defeat of the then mighty Spanish Armada.

Mark J Fenton

_______________________________________________________________
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: SBReview_14: Arden3 MV


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0116  Thursday, 10 June 2011

From:         Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         June 9, 2011 4:34:22 PM EDT
Subject:      Re: SBReview_14: Arden3 MV
 
Professor Halio writes:
 
>Regarding the name "Shylock," I am grateful to Drakakis for pointing me to Stephen Orgel's essay, "Imagining Shylock," which argues that the name is not of biblical derivation, but an English name. Orgel traces the name "Shylok" to Englishmen in Hoo, Sussex, as early as the fifteenth century. (This essay came out well after my edition, or I certainly would have noted it, as Drakakis does.) Nevertheless, given many of the other biblical references from the Old Testament, including the names Tubal, Leah, and Chus (or Cush), Shakespeare could have been reminded of Shelah, or Shelach, Shem's grandson, and then Anglicized it. All the names derive from descendants of Noah, including Jessica, or Iscah, although Orgel disputes that derivation as well.<
 
Indeed, Dr Drakakis (p 165) chooses the Bishop's Bible's 'Selah' over the Geneva Bible's 'Shelah' in his translating Genesis 10:24: "Arpharad begate Selah, and Selah begat Neber." ('Arpharad" may be an Arden3 typo for Bishop's "Arphaxad", and "Neber' an Arden3 typo for Bishop's 'Heber'.) The 1560 Geneva verse in fact reads (with each long 's' modernized and diacritics removed): "Also Arpachshad begate Shelah, and Shelah begate Eber." Dr Halio's Oxford edition (p30) also notes Geneva's "marginal gloss to GEN 10;24" (actually to 10:21's "sonnes of Eber") --  which gloss reads: "Of whome came the Ebrewes or Iewes." (No doubt Dr Halio has by now been alerted to his edition's misciting on p 22 'Rachel' rather than 'Rebecca' as "obtaining Esau's birthright for her other son.")
 
Earlier Dr Drakakis (p 89) has John Coolidge arguing that "Jessica's elopement is a repetition of Jacob's absconding with Leah." In fact, Coolidge's 1976 piece (p 247) has Jacob absconding with both "Rachel and Leah." Rachel, having stolen her father's idols (like Jessica her father's jewels) may be an even closer counterpart to Jessica than Leah.
 
Congratulations to both Profs. Halio and Drakakis for their superb works of scholarship.
 
Joe Egert
 
_______________________________________________________________
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Blog: Laughing at Shakespeare


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0114  Thursday, 10 June 2011

From:         Nazia Sultan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         June 9, 2011 4:13:35 PM EDT
Subject:      Blog: Laughing at Shakespeare

Cambridge University Press has an interesting blog post on Shakespeare and Humor by Adam Zucker, author of The Places of Wit in Early Modern English Comedy.

http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2011/05/laughing-at-shakespeare-by-adam-zucker/

Nazia Sultan
Marketing Associate
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of The Americas
New York, NY 10013-2473
http://www.cambridge.org

_______________________________________________________________
SHAKSPER: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The SHAKSPER Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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