Who Wrote the Sonnets?
The more one thinks about it, the more certain it is that the Sonnets are the key to the authorship question. A key that was intentially missing from the First Folio:
They appear, to the vast majority of readers, the heartfelt experiences of the great spirit who was the author William Shakespeare. Experiences committed to verse while, or nearly while, they were happening and thus corresponding the the lyrical period of the plays as evidenced by Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night's Dream:
They tell a story, or to be more precise, several. They reflect his fondness and love for and interaction with his high born illicit son, who out ranks him.
A son he is painfully separated from by forced travels:
They tell of the Author's debacle, his official death,
the loss of his name and the assumption of his pseudonym. They even stipulate to the method of his "death," which was to "a wretch's knife."
They tell of his exile, his travels, his commercial adventures as a hired pen, which caused him to "Gore ...[his] own thoughts" and to sell "cheap what is most dear:"
These "blenches" in truth gave him a new life or "another youth:"
Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offenses of affections new;
Most true it is that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely: but by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end,
They tell of his continuing love and affection for the boy's mother and they even reveal his new pen name as "Will." (136)
The rub is this narrative in no way fits or meshes with the life experiences of the simple actor to whom posterity has attributed these matchless works:
This fact explains why they were excluded from the First Folio and thus never claimed for the Rustic.
In fact NONE of "Shakespeare's" poetry was included in the First Folio. This curious exclusion prevented "Shakespeare" from being perceived as the poet laureate of England and allowed Ben Jonson, whose poems were included with his plays, to take those honors by default. "Shakespeare's" poems did not fully rejoin his canon for a full century or so after his death.
The obvious reason is the poems give rise to the lie: the works were not written by the rustic actor:
Period readers would have known this if they had been included with the plays. So they were wisely excluded. The poet knew that time was on his side and that eventually they would be reunited with his canon:
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I (once gone) to all the world must die;
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie;
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read.
And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live (such virtue hath my Pen)
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
Clearly the Poet foresaw world fame. World fame for these poems. Just as surely he is telling us that his name isn't on these works. His fate was a common or nameless grave in the plague pit at Deptford. Where his name was buried forever:
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth.
Stratfordian scholars feign they cannot understand this logic, but the poet is clearly telling readers that his name is dead and buried with his body and that it will "live no more to shame" anyone, let alone him.
O, for my sake do you (with) fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
The only humanistic solution to this paradox is that the poet has fabricated his death and is living and writing under assumed names. One of which was, he soon tells us, "Will:"
For this sonnet's closing line, "for my name is Will!" to be a surprise, as it obviously was, the reader must not know it. (136)
If the Sonnets are heart-felt and not the idyll fictions of some poet who lies, then they cannot have been written by the rusticated Actor. Nor can they have been the effort of Oxford or Bacon.
While both of these men suffered public reversals of fortune, neither was exiled. Neither had been said dead or the victim of a wretch's knife. Oxford, who beat his pregnant wife, was lamed in a fight.
More importantly, neither had been, or could have been, the father of an illicit son who outranked him:
Even so my Sun one early morn did shine
With all-triumphant splendor on my brow,
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath masked him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth:
Suns of the world may stain, when heaven's sun staineth.
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone.
In our two loves there is but one respect,
Though in our lives a separable spite,
Which though it alter not love's sole effect,
Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.
I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honor me,
Unless thou take that honor from thy name.
But do not so, I love thee in such sort,
As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
Only a zoned out editor would suppose this "sun" was Helios or Sol. No, the poet is speaking about a boy child who, as he'd written in Venus and Adonis, "had sucked and earthly mother." What can be clearer than the phrase "As thou being mine, mine is thy good report"?
As we can see from this same sonnet the boy has "honor" associated with his name, whist his father does not.
Bacon and particularly Oxford were high born men, surrounded with wealth and riches. So this fact alone eliminates them from serious consideration.
Since this high born son can be identified with considerable certainty as William Herbert, to whom the First Folio was later dedicated and to whom the sonnets were addressed, the chances of who his father may have been are considerably limited:
Readers are first introduced to the boy in Venus and Adonis, where Venus pledges his future patronage to the Poet:
|Venus salutes him with this fair good
"Oh thou clear god, and patron of all light,
From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow
The beauteous influence that makes him bright,
There lives a son that sucked an earthly mother,
May lend thee light, as thou dost lend to other."
No intelligent reader will suppose Venus is addressing Sol, let alone Adonis who is soon killed in the poem. Clearly her salute is to the Poet and the "light" that will be given him is the future patronage of this son who "sucked an earthly mother."
The clues are many. The boy is Kentish, born during the quakes of 1580, which are four times alluded to in the poem, "But like an earthquake, shakes thee on my breast." With this fuller context in mind, it is no boast to say, only one possibility exists. The boy Venus pledges to the Poet was young William Herbert. He was born on 8/18 April 1580, the year of the quakes.
Indeed it is no accident that the poem was entered on his thirteenth birthday, i.e., 18 April 1593 and entered while Marlowe was still alive and at liberty in the London area:
If we draw on both Venus and Adonis and the Sonnets the poet's description of Mary Sidney Herbert is remarkably accurate. It describes her hair color, her fondness for breeding horses, names her preferred mount, the well gaited Spanish Jenny, and, scandalously, confirms her sexual perversions, ones associated their mating habits, as long reported by period gossip and her first biographer.
Indeed so sure are scholars that Mary Sidney Herbert was the "Pretty Boy's" mother, that both Boas and Chambers so identified her. In fact Chambers reversed his lifelong opinion to do so, when new evidence for an early match for young William Herbert surfaced:
(See Short Life, etc.)
No author's name was associated with the registration of Venus and Adonis. When it appeared, a week or so after Marlowe's "death," it was dedicated to Southampton, who overlapped Marlowe at Cambridge.
It is on that page, which scholars can prove was added hastily to the already printed text, that the name "William Shakespeare" first appears.
So the only poet capable of writing these Sonnets c. 1593-95 who knew Mary Sidney Herbert, William's lovely mother, and who had been allegedly stabbed in the forehead, said dead and buried in a common grave
was Christopher Marlowe.
Just as it is equally certain that he was said to have returned from that grave and to have been alive and well in the London area c. 1603 when a prison record records his incarceration at Gatehouse Prison.
The lavish bill for his billet was sent to his former master Sir Robert Cecil and totals more for a few weeks stay than the average Londoner spent on himself in a year or more:
The Poet tells us precisely where the wound was when he writes about the scandal that overwhelmed him in the spring of 1593:
Your love and pity doth th' impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamped upon my brow,
For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow?
You are my All the world, and I must strive
In light of the extended context, the poet is implying here that his name has been changed to Will (~"For what care I who calls me well or ill...") and this new creation, William Shakespeare, is "o'er greening" his former blemishes. Filling in, so to speak, the impression the hypothetical dagger left on his brow.
Myself I disbelieve that Marlowe actually suffered a dagger blow to his forehead. Though it is certainly possible given his temperament and the social conditions of that age that he was more than once wounded in deadly altercations, was was Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Marlovians are on the whole more inclined to believe the stabbing was a ruse concocted to afford Marlowe an unencumbered escape from pending capital charges.
A ruse that employed a handy cadaver disgusted as Marlowe's, ala Measure for Measure's similar substitution. In that now famous switch the Author is teaching us that when justice miscarries it is the moral duty of friends to act outside the law to rescue the innocent:
So to review. The Sonnets are the key to the authorship mystery. If they are genuine heartfelt works, as most believe and the poet claims, the life they reflect can only have been Marlowe's. He was the only world class poet said to have been stabbed to death in the forehead or "brow", after his reputation was ruined by a public and "vulgar scandal." One brought on by a "suborned Informer." He is also the only known poet to have returned from the grave and exile during this period. He is likewise the only poet who can be proven to have been with Mary Sidney Herbert at the time of her conception of William Herbert, since that conception would have taken place in Canterbury late summer 1579, at a time Marlowe is known to have been there as well.
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