Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

News comes that Shakespeare's church, Holy Trinity in Stratford, which houses the Bard's burial site, is in danger of caving in. Funds are sought to keep this from happening.

This raises the question of his grave -- and the strange poem carved on it.

There are four lines of doggerel, which end like this: "And curst be he that moves my bones."

The fact that the little epitaph is of such poor quality lends support to those who claim that someone else, not the person buried in Shakespeare's grave, wrote the Shakespeare plays.

Afer all, they claim, could anyone capable of writing this trivial, poor-quality doggerel possibly be the person who wrote the 37 plays and 154 sonnets that are the greatest works in our literary history?

It doesn't convince me, but it's an interesting question. Do you have an opinion?


Jeanne Estridge said...

I've always been so interested in WHY the verse was written that it never occurred to me to wonder WHO had written it. At any rate, a lot of the rhyming bits in the plays aren't all that great, e.g. "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

I'm still convinced it was Shakepeare and not "someone else of the same name" who wrote the plays!

Berowne said...

"I've always been so interested in WHY the verse was written that it never occurred to me to wonder WHO had written it."

It was the unfortunate custom of that time to, if space were needed, dig up a grave and just heedlessly dispose of the remains. Someone -- and it's at least possible it was Will Shakespeare himself -- wanted very much to keep this from happening to the bones in this grave, so this little poem was written.
That seems to have been why; WHO wrote it is still in question. However, it is a fact that the poetry, mottos, phrases, thoughts, etc., written on gravestones everywhere almost always have been written by someone else, not the person lying beneath. That, in my view, is the case with the lines of doggerel in question.
And I agree with you; Will S. wrote the Shakespeare plays!

Jeanne Estridge said...

Thanks for the info. When I read Tracy Chevalier's book, Fallen Angels, I learned that, with land at a premium in England, many graves are stacked several bodies deep. So it makes sense that in an earlier time graves were actually recycled.

I've added you to my blogroll (which is totally out of control -- there are so many fascinating people writing blogs!) so I can visit as you make new posts (and time allows).

Berowne said...

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I envy you your knowledge of how this system works. I'm new to blogging, and I've wanted to add names to my blogroll, but all I can do is add to my blog list -- and what the difference is between these two is more than I can figure out.
I'd be interested in your comment on my post re Shakespeare Hats, archived.

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