The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1975  Friday, 10 August 2001

From:           Richard Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 09 Aug 2001 08:22:31 -0700
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

Here's the solution to the poetry game, RK is me, WS is the Funeral
Elegy writer.

1. Ford    2. RK    3. WS    4. Ford    5. WS    6. RK
7. WS    8. Ford   9. RK   10.  WS    11. Ford   12. RK

Skip Nicholson went to the books and got all the verses placed, as

Bruce Young guessed in duplicate and triplicate, but of the four verses
he made one guess on, he got No. 6. right as being by RK.

Ira Zinman made only 2 guesses, got No. 3 right as WS.

John Briggs made 4 guesses, alas none right.


Which may all be a "pointless" exercise, as Vick Bennison says, but it's
only a game set out to show that if the Funeral Elegy was written by
Shakespeare in the year he wrote the Tempest, the man had so severely
fallen off his genius that his work can't be told apart from John Ford's
early elegiac verse or the scratchings of a 21st century hack poet.

Don Foster's study asks us to believe that the trivial versifying of the
Funeral Elegy was written by a man who could write this in the same

        "Full fathom five thy father lies;
        Of his bones are coral made;
        Those are pearls that were his eyes;
        Nothing of him that doth fade
        But doth suffer a sea-change
        Into something rich and strange."

Or this, even a monster speaks poetry, Caliban:

        "Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
        Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
        Sometimes a thousand twanging instruments
        Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
        That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
        Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
        The clouds methought would open and show riches
        Ready to drop upon me, that, when I waked,
        I cried to dream again."

There is no tear in all of the Funeral Elegy quite so touching, and much
more, but choose from the Tempest what text you will, Act, Scene, Verse,
and line, and surmise how it could be that Shakespeare's marbled speech
was turned to such bakelite bawling as we have in the Funeral Elegy.

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