The Dark Side of Shakespeare (A Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)
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When Shakespeare 'originated' his Sonnets,

did they have a 'Euphues' meaning?

W. Ron Hess ( argues for a radical "old" meaning for the Sonnets.

Posted May 2005


Let's entertain a suggestion for how to understand the 1609 Sonnets by William Shake-speare which may show that "the Beloved Youth" originated as "Euphues," or the 17th Earl of Oxford as a heroic embodiment of a new form of the English Language that Oxford's circle was championing in "Euphuism" during the 1570s up to the mid-80s, after which it "fell out of style," probably to Oxford's lament. Might the Sonnets have originated and been understood with this "clear" meaning? Alternative interpretations for the Sonnets may simply reflect added levels of meaning, perhaps layered-on in revisions; and so this new interpretation should supplement, rather than supplant them. Think of it this way: before the Sonnets reached their current form, crammed with double-entendre and hidden meaning, might there have been a "clear" version first, and when? (From Hess IIIA Appen. J & IIIB Appen. T).

If we study to find a "clear" meaning in the Sonnets, easily and openly deduced by Elizabethans, we must first examine the 1640 Poems: vvritten by Will. Shake-speare. Gent., a poetry anthology printed by Thomas Cotes for John Benson. The 1640 project used the form of a 1570s-90s "chap-book" or "miscellany," and had a less-than-faithful scrambled selection of all of Shakespeare's poetry, including 146 of the sonnets that had been earlier published in the 1609 collection. In their dedication to the reader, the Cotes-Benson team claimed to present what "the Authour himselfe then living avouched," [1] and said the whole collection was: "serene, clear," "elegantly plain," & "perfect eloquence" (as cited in Hotson, 2-3). Yet Cotes-Benson's statement was in many ways peculiar, because they had just confused interpretation of the Sonnets by: a) scrambling them; b) in # 101 they changed 3 instances of "he" to "she"; and c) for several sonnets they affixed grouping titles that appeared to address a feminine "Muse" instead of a masculine "Beloved Youth." [2] How could the Sonnets have been "clear" or "plain" if their sequence and gender could be changed, the two main elements for interpreting them?

Yet, we can't lightly dismiss the 1640 edition, because Oxford's son-in-law Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke-Montgomery, was still Lord Chamberlain in 1640 (serving 1626-41), with authority over Stationers such as Cotes-Benson. And Master of the Stationers Co. from 1639-40 was John Smethwick, followed in 1640 by Master Wm. Aspley, the only two Stationers to have shared in both the 1623 F1 and 1632 F2 projects. Also, those who pretend the Cotes-Benson project was illicit simply overlook the shady background of the 1609 project and of each of its likely participants (Eld-Thorpe-Hall, while variants listed Aspley or J. Wright Sr.) and the suspicion that the 1609 edition "pirated" A Lovers Complaint, hiding it unregistered behind the Sonnets (where Sid Lubow sees ALC as the Sonnets' mythology-based "key").

We need more background. In France from 1550 to 75, Pierre Ronsard and Juaquim Du Bellay joined a handful of other great poets in the group "la Pleiades." They consciously made French more powerful for philosophy and love poetry, trying to excel the Greco-Roman poet-playwrights. From 1570 to 75, "the Pleiades" linked to a parallel "Academic movement" that brought Florentine-type academies to Paris, exalting music and poetry above all subjects. When Oxford visited Paris in 1575, Ronsard and the academies were still active, and so we should note that the academy established by the "King of Navarre" in Love's Labour's Lost was clearly of that pre-1576 type (Yates, 22, 27-28, 35, 264). But when Oxford revisited Paris in 1576, Ronsard in ill-health had retired to the countryside, "the Pleiades" had disbanded, and the new king Henri III had forced consolidation of the academies into "the Palace Academy," now emphasizing rhetoric and logic (Hess I Sect. 4.F). Ronsard had prominently adopted Ovid's theme of immortalizing his language and various mistresses (successively his "Cassandre," "Marie," and "Helene"); and as his health diminished toward his 1585 death, and he felt exiled from Henri III's Court, he readily adopted Ovid's themes of exile, and his still-active pen dissolved into "anguish of the incurable invalid in nights spent alone in pain, longing for sleep, watching for the dawn, and praying for death" (Ency. Brit. X, 170; Lewis-1944, 306). I argue that all of Shakespeare Sonnets' themes came from Ovid (via Golding's translation) or other great earlier poets, with many reflecting Ronsard's peculiar approach to Ovid!

Hess II Appen. C notes Oxford in knight-errant roles such as "Euphues" (= "natural genius"), "d'Oliva" (a crusader), "Palladine" (= "of the Spear-shaker"), etc. Oxford tried to bring back to England a type of the pre-1576 "Academic movement," establishing "a second Sorbonne" to reform the universities. Yet, Oxford's enemy the Earl of Leicester was High Steward of Cambridge U. 1562-88 and Chancellor of Oxford U. 1564-88, followed by another enemy, Sir C. Hatton 1588-91 (Concise DNB-I, 851 & -II, 1350). So, reforming the universities was dangerously linked to politics, and Oxford was thwarted. But, did he succeed in some ways? In 1598, Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia said Oxford was "the best for comedie" and best of courtier poets; so, note that Meres' "chapbook" celebrated the idea that, like Ronsard's French, his Elizabethan English could compare favorably to ancient Greco-Roman literature. And Puttenham's 1589 Arte of English Poesie also celebrated that contrast while lauding Oxford (Wilcock, 21).

Oxford's somewhat subversive efforts at literary and educational reform contributed to a broad reform of the English language, as had happened in France. But, his literary circle went through a "phase" called "Euphuism," lavishly overdoing some aspects: a] liberally coining words with Latin, Italian, or French roots (perhaps 25% of Elizabethan entries in the OED are from Shakespeare, and if Oxford's circle is added-in, the total may exceed 50%); b] often using classical mythology and allusion (mostly from Ovid); and c] often forsaking plot to celebrate ingenious but sometimes tiresome wordiness. This "new English" was dubbed "Euphuism" because of Euphues the Anatomy of Wit, the 1578-79 novel by Oxford's servant John Lyly, followed in 1579-80 by Euphues and His England (this one dedicated to Oxford). Then, in the 1580 dedication to Oxford of Zelauto, another of Oxford's servants Anthony Munday made a direct identification of Oxford: "Given for a friendly entertainment to Euphues," or to Munday's patron. Thus, Oxford was equated to the knight-errant "Euphues" (Hess II Sect. C.3.9 shows that the travels and activities of "Euphues" mirrored those of Oxford).

The "Euphuist" style demanded a great deal from both the authors and their readers. Still, it was marvelous how their poetry and prose maintained a dynamic, intricate tension, offering open poetic messages on the surface while artfully concealing sly sub-messages, often via mythical elements or Latinate contractions that the "old English" of Chaucer to Surrey and Sackville had not been well-equipped to use. Arthur Golding's 1567 translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses made "Euphuism" possible, because it was his Ovid that most of "Euphuism’s" classical allusions adopted. And Golding was Oxford's uncle, living under the same roof with teenaged Oxford while preparing his translations, while his Ovid was later one of Shakespeare's greatest sources of allusions.

Back to our Sonnets background, in 1938 George B. Parks helped resurrect a 1584 "chapbook" of poetry called Pandora: The Musyque of the beautie, of his Mistresse Diana, printed by John Charlewood, lavishly dedicated to Oxford by "John Soowthern, Gent." Because it was in a difficult gothic type, Hess IIIB Appen. T transcribes & analyzes all of Pandora, but the Pandora text can be found at: Pandora had sonnets attributed to Oxford's wife and Queen Elizabeth, plus poetry credited to a mysterious "Soothern" (vs. "Soowthern," Dutch-Waloons for "Southerner"). "Soothern" is not too hard to identify with Oxford himself (English "Sooth" = Truth, thus "Soothern" = "of Truth" = de Vere = Oxford's name). Since only two Pandora copies now exist (at the Huntingdon and British Libs), most analysts agree it was "suppressed" (suggesting by Queen Elizabeth, Oxford himself, or Oxford's wife; Moody, 168-69). Yet the S.R. shows Sep. 22, 1592 Charlewood registered Dyana the prases of his mistres in certen sweete Sonneties, likely planning to republish Pandora if he hadn't died a few months later! I argue that each of Shakespeare's Sonnets themes were to be found in Pandora. Among them, most striking was "Soothern’s" brag that he would reform the English Language and "rayse it to the skies," giving it and his "Diana" (= Queen Elizabeth?) immortality through his poetry. A few examples are in these stanzas from Pandora:

12th: And lyke these knowne men, can your Soothern, write too : /

And as long as Englishe lasts, immortall you. /

I the penne of Soothern will my fayre Diana, /

Make thee immortall : if thou wilt give him favour : /

For then hee'll sing Petrark, Tien, Ovide, Ronsar :/

And make thee Cassander, Corine, Bathyll, Laura. // [A]

31st: Think'st thou it is nothing, to have /

The penne of Soothern for thy trompet. /

Yes, yes, to whome Soothern is Poete, /

The honour goes not to the grave.

And the 40th stanza (pgs. 23-24), right after Queen Elizabeth's alleged contribution, was:

IN which you ask't my name (confesse / your selfe, if't be not so) /

And whether I before, had e /

ver [B] beene in love or no. /// [begin pg. 24]

My name, quoth I, is Soothern, and Madame, let that suffice: /

That Soothern which will rayse the Eng- /

lishe language to the Skies. [C] /

The wanton of the Muses, and /

Whose well composed ryme, /

Will live in despite of the hevens, /

And Triumph over tyme. &c. // [D]

Notes: [A] The 4 poets' mistresses were immortalized thru their verses (Petrark's Laura, Tien's Corine, Ovid's Bathyll, & Ronsard's Cassandre). [B] The "Confession" of "e/ ver" = "Edward deVere." [C] "Soothern's" Great Boast. [D] Immortality for the "Englishe language" through these "Euphuist" lines = a major Sonnets theme!

Hess IIIB Appen. T notes "immortality conveyed by the poet's lines" was an artifice of Ovid's that Ronsard, Du Bellay, & their "Pleiades" had used, and later became a core theme of the 1609 Sonnets. Also note the artifice at least as old as Ovid of the poet's "Muse" serving as his "fickle mistress" (i.e., often inspiring or favoring others instead, or afflicting him with "writer's block").

Possibly the earliest of the "proto-Sonnets" were originally meant to be at the end of Pandora but were withheld during the "suppression" process, and were revamped circa 1592-3 for Charlewood’s intended project. Unfortunately, much (but not most) of Pandora's extant poetry was poor, not in itself justifying such boasts. Which implies that there was a withheld greater and better body of poetry by the poet "Soothern" (= Oxford). I argue early forms of most of the poetry in the Cotes-Benson 1640 "chapbook" was likely in that better body, including most of the Sonnets. Hence, Pandora's boast:

"That Soothern which will rayse the Eng- /

lishe language to the Skies,"

can successfully substitute for every occurrence in the Sonnets of addresses to "the Beloved Youth" except where his "love" is for his Muse. This is the crux of the Sonnets' "clearness," that they were really addressing "English" & "Euphuism." It helps to assume that most of the Sonnets were of a time circa 1583-89 when Oxford's proud "Euphuism" had already gained great favor, but was beginning to slip "out of style." Yet "Euphuism" does dominate "early" Shakespeare plays, such as Love's Labour's Lost, Two Gentlemen, Comedy of Errors, etc. (Ogburn Jr., 696-98).

Below are a few sample Sonnets to illustrate this new paradigm. Not bothering to rhyme, we simply substitute "Euphuism," "Euphues" (Oxford's alter-ego, the embodiment of "Euphuism"), "my Muse," or a similar concept for "my love," "thee," and "thou"-type words we can interpret as addresses to "the Beloved Youth." I find no Sonnets that can't be fit into this substitution exercise. This new paradigm allows the Sonnets to address "the Beloved Youth" as if she/he was either the poet's fickle Muse (Sid Lubow identifies her with "Melpomene," Muse of tragic song, verse, and drama, literally "the Dark Lady") or with "Euphues" the embodiment of "Euphuism," Oxford's proudest creation.

Note that this new paradigm especially complements the thesis of Sid Lubow, whose new book will describe the Sonnets as a variation of Ovid’s "Echo & Narcissus" myth, with the 1609 A Lover's Complaint (ALC) as its key. [6] And it fits well with orthodox Leslie Hotson's 1949 and David Honneyman's 1997 orthodox theories. Nor does it necessarily conflict with any other theories, since the "proto-Sonnets" of c.1583 to c.1600 may have been later adapted into somewhat different form and order, plus added to, for what we see today. But the simplicity, directness, and "clearness" of this new paradigm requires no "conspiracy theory," no "royal birth" or "incest," no tacky sharing of a "Dark Lady" by two men, no adulterous affair with a "married Dark Lady," nor a "homosexual Shakespeare." We only need to connect to what we already know about Oxford and Shakespeare, plus recognize Oxford's larger political, cultural, and literary context. Adherents for Sonnet interpretations often ask: "How else can we explain line xyz unless we accept a 'bisexual relationship,' or a 'Tudor heir,' etc.?" Instead, from now on, let's ask ourselves: "What would Shakespeare's wider audience have been able to readily and openly equate with a 'Beloved Youth?'" Only "Euphuism's" seductive "new English" would have met that "open" description, and thus should provide us with a clear "translation" for the "origination" meaning of the Sonnets.

Most revealing, our new paradigm makes perfect sense out of Cotes-Benson's 1640 supposed "gender-bending" of "the Beloved Youth," claiming:

"You shall find them serene, clear, and elegantly plain;... no intricate or cloudy stuff to puzzle intellect, but perfect eloquence such as will raise your admiration to his praise."

All of this was about "language." Sure enough, "language" was masculine (= French "langage") or feminine (= French "langue" or Latin "lingua"). So, neither Eld-Thorpe in 1609 nor Cotes-Benson in 1640 actually erred by addressing "the Beloved Youth" or "Euphues" as an embodiment of the "Common Tongue" or "Mother Tongue," depending on context. And this helps substantiate our new paradigm. [7]

Our new paradigm links us back to the 1584 Pandora, making that undeniably Oxford-related work into virtually a "missing link" to Shakespeare's identity, predicting all themes later found in the Sonnets and other Shakespeare poetry, and capitalizing on Pandora's peculiar fascination with and blatant borrowing from Ovid and Ronsard (among others). Best of all, it links forward to the "Shake-speare" of 1599, 1609, and 1640, the fruits of Oxford's begetting of his "new English language" or "Euphuism." This was literally "Shake-speare" in 1583-93, at great personal cost already having completed much of the process for his romancing, fathering, and "raysing to the skies" the most magnificent creation imaginable: what was to become the best aspects of our language!


Sonnets Samples:

# 3 Look in ENGLISH's glass [3] and tell the face IT viewest,

Now is the time that face should form another,

Whose fresh repair if now EUPHUES not renewest,

EUPHUES dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.

For where is she [4] so faire whose unear'd womb

Disdains the tillage of EUPHUES' husbandry?

Or who is he so fond will be the tomb,

Of his self love, to stop posteritie?

EUPHUES is HIS OWN mother's glass, and she in HIM

Calls backe the lovelie April of her prime,

So ENGLISH in windows of EUPHUES' age shalt see,

Despite of wrinkles, this ENGLISH's golden time.

But if ENGLISH live rememb'red not to be,

Die single, and ENGLISH's image dies with EUPHUES.


# 18 Shall I compare EUPHUISM to a summer's day?

EUPHUISM is more lovelie and more temperate:

Rough winds doe shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his [Apollo, god of poetry, patron of the

Parnassus Muses] gold complexion dimm'd, [5]

And everie faire [Vere verse] from faire sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:

But EUPHUISM's eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that faire EUPHUISM ow'st,

Nor shall Death brag EUPHUISM wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time EUPHUISM growe'st.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to EUPHUISM.


# 42 That EUPHUES hast her [my Muse Melpomene, or poss.

Pallas "Spear-shaker"?], it is not all my griefe,

And yet it may be said I lov'd her [my Muse] deerlie;

That she hath [loved] EUPHUES is of my wailing chiefe,

A loss in love that touches mee more nearly.

Loving offenders, thus I will excuse EUPHUES:

EUPHUES dost love her because HE knowe'st I love her,

And for my sake even so doth she abuse mee,

Suff'ring my EUPHUES for my sake to approve her.

If I lose EUPHUES, my loss is my [Muse's] gain,

And losing her, my EUPHUES hath found that loss;

Both finde each other, and I lose both twaine,

And both for my sake laie on mee this cross.

But here's the joy, my EUPHUES and I are one;

Sweet flatterie! then she [my Muse] loves but mee alone.


# 80 O how I faint when I of EUPHUISM doe write,

Knowing a better spirit [Apollo] doth use EUPHUISM's name

[i.e., "Euphues" links to "of Phoebus Apollo"],

And in the praise thereof spends all his might,

To make mee tongue tied, speaking of EUPHUISM's fame.

But since EUPHUISM's worth wide as the ocean is

The humble as the proudest sail doth beare,

My sawcie bark [my fickle Muse] inferior farre to his

[Apollo's poetic power and chariot: passage of Time]

On EUPHUISM's broad main doth willfully appear.

EUPHUISM's shallowest help will hold mee up afloat,

Whilst [Apollo] upon EUPHUISM's soundless deep doth ride,

Or being wrack'd I am a worthless boate,

He [Apollo-Time] of tall building and of goodly pride.

Then if he[Apollo-Time] thrive and I be cast away,

The worst was this: my [fickle Muse] was my decay.


# 124 If my dear love [EUPHUISM] were but the child of state

[= became Official or "the Queen's English"]

EUPHUISM might for fortune's bastard be unfathered,

As subject to time's love or to time's hate, [i.e., indelible

EUPHUISM can only speak truth, not just fashion]

Weeds among weeds or flowers with flowers gathered.

No, EUPHUISM was builded far from accident [i.e., Oxford

built it deliberately to challenge Ovid & Ronsard!];

EUPHUISM suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls

Under the blow of thralled discontent [fashion's disfavor]

Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls.

EUPHUISM fears not policy, that Heretic [dissembler],

Which works on leases of short-numbered hours,

But all alone EUPHUISM stands hugely politic [correct-true],

That it nor grows with heat nor drowns with showers.

To this I witness call the fools of time, [those who change

their ENGLISH with Apollo-Time's fashion]

Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime. [i.e., of

adulterating ENGLISH with fashion's weeds].


# 134 So now I have confess'd that EUPHUES is [my Muse's],

And I myself am mortgag'd to [my fickle Muse's] will,

Myself Ile forfeite, so that other mine [i.e., EUPHUES]

[My fickle Muse] wilt restore to be my comfort still:

But [my Muse] wilt not, nor EUPHUES will not be free,

For [my fickle Muse is] covetous, and EUPHUES is kind;

EUPHUES learn'd but suretie like to write for mee

Under that bond that EUPHUES as fast doth bind.

The statute of [my Muse's] beautie [my Muse] wilt take,

Thou [my fickle Muse] usurer, that put'st forth all to use,

And sue a friend [EUPHUES] came debtor for my sake,

So EUPHUES I lose through my unkind abuse.

Him [EUPHUES] have I lost, [my Muse] hast both him & me,

He [EUPHUES] paies the whole, and yet am I not free.


# 152 In loving thee [my Muse], thou knowe'st I am forsworn,

But [my Muse] art twice forsworn, to mee love swearing;

In act [my Muse's] bed vow broke, and new faith torn,

In vowing new hate after new love [EUPHUISM] bearing.

But why of two oaths' breach doe I accuse [my Muse],

When I breake twentie? I am perjur'd most,

For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee [my Muse],

And all my honest faith in thee [my fickle Muse] is lost;

For I have sworne deep oaths of [her] deep kindness,

Oaths of [her] love, [her] truth, [her] constancy,

And to enlighten [my fickle Muse] gave eyes to blindness,

Or made them sweare against the thing they see;

For I have sworne [my Muse is] faire: more perjur'd eye,

To sweare against the truth so foule a lie!



[1] If the 1640 Cotes-Benson project derived from the 1609 Eld-Thorpe project, then "the Authour himselfe then living avouched" might eliminate the 17th Oxford as author (since he was dead in 1609). Or it would show that the 1609 and 1640 projects diverged earlier, while Oxford yet lived. Though the diverging may have been much earlier, note that on Jan. 3, 1599/0 an entry was made in the Stationers Registry (S.R.) for "a book called Amours by J.D. with certen o[th]yr sonnetes by W.S.," which Prof. A.Nelson proposed in an Oct. 8, 2004 speech was a Sonnets 1st edition. I suggest Amours was the 1602 All Ovids Elegies or 1605 Wittes pilgrimage through a world of amorous sonnets edited by John Davies of Hereford (and thus may link to many Ovid translations used in the 1640 project). Hess IIIA Appen J notes clues that the 1640 project derived from a c.1592 (or earlier) precursor to the 1598-1600 & 1609 projects. Dr. Jim Brooks is researching whether the 1640 project had similarities to a 1612 edition of the 1599 Passionate Pilgrim, which still wouldn't exclude an earlier common precursor.

[2] In 1640 Cotes-Benson scrambled in a "chapbook" form 146 of the Sonnets together with all of Lover’s Complaint, Phoenix &the Turtle, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, most of Passionate Pilgrim, translations of Ovid (that may compare to Oxford's uncle Golding's work), and several dedications. It was printed by Thomas Cotes, who with his brother-partner Richard had printed the 1632 2nd Folio (F2) and Pericles Q6. So, in 1632-40, on the eve of the Civil Wars and while Oxford's son-in-law Philip Herbert was still Lord Chamberlain, the Cotes brothers were the first to print all of Shakespeare's canon, although in separate editions spread over 8 years. The 1640 project lacked SON #s 18, 19, 43, 56, 75, 76, 96, &126, and in lieu of #s 138 & 144 used the 1599 Pass. Pilg.'s versions. Except for 3 changes of "he" to "she" in # 101 (addressed to the poet's female Muse with # 100 under a grouping title of "Invocation to His Muse"), the 1640 Poems didn't really "gender-bend" any text, yet its grouping titles did confuse gender on #s 113-15 ("Selfe flattery of her beautie"), 122 ("Upon receit... from his Mistris"), &125 ("An intreatie for her acceptance") while retaining refs. to "his" or neutral gender in the text (see Smith-1994, 268). Another oddity was a reversed woodcut of the Droeshout portrait, with a cape on its shoulder & laurel sprig in hand. There was also a "W.B." dedication to "Shakespeare" in his "three-fold, foure-fold Tombe," said to have died in 1616. I argue this last was extension of a "Shakespeare myth" using deceptions by Ben Jonson and others in the 1623 1st Folio (F1) and perpetrated under the F1's "incomparable paire": a] William Herbert (Lord Chamberlain 1615-26) and b] his brother, Oxford's son-in-law, Philip Herbert (Lord Ch. 1626-41).

[3] From 1567 to at least 1589 there were poetry chapbooks whose names began with "Glasse" or "Mirrour of...," where Sackville's poems in The Mirrour of Magistrates have been said to be among the finest English poetry from Chaucer to Spenser, a collection growing over many editions. Oxford's secretary Munday's 1579 The Mirrour of Mutability was lavishly dedicated to Oxford, complete with Oxford's heraldry and two acrostic poems featuring Oxford's name and titles. These popular "mirrours" or "glasses" were held up for society to see its deceits.

[4] Chaucer's to Surrey’s English was the mother of "Euphuism." Until the 1570s, Chaucer was the epitome of English poetry, and his works are treasured even today. But by Oxford's time, it was clear that the old English was in need of a more vibrant, Latinate-fortified "Euphuism" that could go toe-to-toe with the revitalized French of Ronsard, DuBellay, & their "Pleiades," and rival the ancient poets (introducing "a second Sorbonne").

[5] In Sonnet #18, line #6, we could plug-in EUPHUISM for "his," but it works better if "his" = "eye of heaven" = the Sun god Apollo, patron of song and poetry, whose shining-gold is a metaphor for poetry. The heat of the poet god might also relate to too-heated meaning in the poetry of the time. Note that 1609 Sonnet #s 1 and 2 also refer to "eyes" or "eye," possibly =Apollo, but when plural (the two celestial eyes) also = his sister Diana (who was the "mistress" of the 1584 Pandora). Note also Oxford's role played in a Jan. 22, 1580/1 joust as "the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne" (Hess IIIA Appen. I). For line #3, a lady informs me that "darling buds of May" could reflect Cockney slang of the time for homosexuals; yet for once I think a Shake-speare line should be taken at face value, here as a celebration of the joyous time of the year, of life, and of the birth of a new language! She also suggested a relation to the 1582 calendar shift on the continent (Julian to Gregorian, Oct 15 directly followed Oct 4, 1582); so in 1583 the buds of late-April instead bloomed in May (and in 1583 Pandora was being compiled)!

[6] Sid Lubow provided a draft copy of his book, which I've tried not to ape here. A Lover's Complaint (ALC) was in the back of the same 1609 publication as the Sonnets, and was attributed to Shakespeare too (but ALC's omission on the Title page and in the S.R. help to add suspicions that the 1609 project was illicit!). Sid argues the "Dark Lady" of the Sonnets was the poet's personal muse, or "Melpomene" the Muse of Tragedy (including verse and song). Here it's also possible she was merged with Pallas Athena, virgin goddess of war, wisdom, arts, and literature, with the Greek epithet "Pallas" (= "shaker"), and often depicted as "the Spear-shaker." Hess IIIA Appen. M suggests a "Palladine Manner" in which Oxford-Sh. regarded "Pallas" as his personal muse.

[7] But if the 1584 Pandora's poetry was uneven in quality, how could it have "originated" along with presumably excellent "proto-Sonnets?" Yet, how much improvement might a genius like Shakespeare have reasonably developed over one or two decades if he was revising and adding to the Sonnets almost to the day of Oxford's death (e.g., the differences between Sonnets # 138 & 144 from their 1599 to 1609 versions)? If we take Shakespeare's true masterpiece-level works to have been modified and polished over several decades, what might they have looked like in 1584? Much of Pandora, ALC, and parts of the 1640 project may be the answers! Also, Pandora's French last page and Latin motto, plus Latin-based "euphuistic" over-use of mythology and coinages Latinate or "Frenchified" (as it was called by Steevens' 1788 commentary) suggest that much of Pandora (and the proto-Sonnets) may have been first written in French and/or Latin, and translated into English. Still, Pandora was a 1584 "brave experiment" that failed, not because it was "suppressed," but because it attempted what the English language was ill-suited for -- the over-elaborate use of "Euphuism." Oxford-Shakespeare learned and improved!


Works cited:
1. Hess, W. Ron, The Dark Side of Shakespeare, Vols. I, II, IIIA, & IIIB (2002-2005), NY, Writers Club Press ( shows how to view two free .pdf files online).
2. Honneyman, David, Sh.'s Sonnets and the Court of Navarre, Lewiston, NY, 1997, Edwin Mellen Press.
3. Hotson, Leslie, Shakespeare's Sonnets Dated & Other Essays, London, 1949, Hart-Davis.
4. Lewis, D.B. Wyndam, Ronsard, New York, 1944, Coward-McCann.
5. Lubow, Sidney, The Internal Triangle: A New Interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnets, currently under development; contact or see
6. Moody, Ellen, "Six Elegiac Poems, Possibly by anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford," Eng. Lit. Renaissance, 19 (1989), 152-70. Also posted at:
7. Ogburn Jr., Charlton, The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality, NY, 1984, Dodd Mead (a somewhat updated 2nd edition 1992 available from EPM Publications, McLean, VA).
8. Parks, G. B., ed., Pandora by John Soowthern, NY, 1938, Columbia U. Press.
9. Smith, Bruce R., Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England, Chicago, 1994, U. of Chicago Press.
10. Willcock, Gladys D., ed., 'The Arte of English Poesie' by G. Puttenham, Folcroft, PA, 1976, Folcroft Lib.
11. Yates, Frances A., The French Academies of the Sixteenth Century, London, (1947) 1988, Routledge.


The Dark Side of Shakespeare (a Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)