The New Divan: Final Greenshoots

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69243169_370526970310014_4520528661874475008_nYesterday I completed the final few openings to The New Divan. Earlier in the day I went to the outside auction in Leith to see what poetry had popped up. It was a bumper day actually, & I got all the above ones for a fiver. Its an interesting experience. They auction starts at 11, but at at 10 they put the books out. This brings a gaggle of the city’s booksellers to have a look, & there seems a tacit agreement among them to carve up the spoils, very rarely bidding against each other. Luckily theres not that much money in poetry books (old & new) so I can make my own pretty pile & no bothers me, maybe someone takes a book out & places it n their own pile – you’re allowed to bid for them separately. For example yesterday, I noticed Percy’s Reliques in a guy’s pile, so I took them out to bid separetely. The guy was great tho, & said don’t worry about it & put it in my pile, chit-chatting about a poetry a little & gaurding them fastiduously from predatary sellers. In the end those three books are worth about £40 on their own, but I’m there to study them not sell them.

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Another of the books I picked up had a wonderful effect on the day’s transcreation. It was a litttle book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, whose ‘children’s poetry’ were both octosyllabic & rhyming, & emotive as love! absolutely brilliant transportational abilities & I’ll be doing a Pendragon poetry post on them soon! Reading the poems absorbed the measured music into my mind, & when I sat down with A New Divan, I found very much the whole process of transcreation easier than previously. Having him board has made me realise that the English poets & Scottish Makars & of course the Welsh bards shiould be involved somewhere in The New Divan. To facilitate this idea I shall take me with me on my composition sessions a poet or two from a pantheon, whose words I can bounce off when lacking inspiration, whose music I can draw on to mould a proper mindset. 24 poems to go…

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JAAN KAPLINSKI: The Great Axe

Knew everybody since childhood,
He’d dreamt he was a shaft of wood
By axehead topp’d, his foes to fight
To chop off heads & branches smite!

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NUJOOM ALGHANEM: The Crimson Shades

If Venus e’er should act a thief
Of hearts once sworn our destiny
Or if Lord Jupiter’s mischief
Would draw upon us furtively
Should ever come to pass these odds
Let us refuse their rudest guiles
Bestow, instead, on Fates & Gods
The Rose of Hope that grows in smiles!

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ALES STEGER: Thirst

Each runic bottle teaches me
Beseeching pure humility
If every god can be seduced
By the carafe, & thus reduced,
How fine a drop am I?

Intoxicating, misty dream
I sip between my lips, & seem
Made larger & more eloquent.

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ANTONELLA ANEDDA: Three Ghazals

Words you have grasp’d all on your own
I cannot utter unto you
Without inflicting ills to groan
Or causing harm, send thought askew.

I can’t go on, I do not care
To wound or flatter, so I stay
Within my family, to share
Encircled warmth, tho cool as May.

So words be good, be gone into
The silence of a summit bird
My voice it plummets low for you
So much you cannot hear a word.

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MOURID BARGHOUTI: The Obedience of Water

Nights of art & erudition
Sacrifice & hesitation
At little, or at great expense,
Must pass, how many, since or hence
Need you to cleverly invent,
A simple gadget’s supplement,
When all we need for tyranny
Are single bendings of one knee!

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MOHAMMED BENNIS: Aubade

Goethe, Goethe, poet master
From the furthest lands a-wester
Of the East, I have sung in praise
Of that peace goblet you did raise
To happiness, under the vines,
To goodness dressing all designs.

 

 

Cunedda, son of Woden… King of Picts

Breth son of Buthut
Vipoig namet
Canutulahina
Wradech uecla
Gartnaich-diuberr
Talore son of Achivir
Drust son of Erp
Talore son of Aniel (PKL)

These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: Tybion, the firstborn, who died in the region called Manaw Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided his possessions among his brothers. 2, Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6, Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8. Dogfael, 9. Edern Harleian 3859 (pedigree 32)

Maelgwyn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.’ (NEN)

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The first extract is from the Pictish King List. Only a handful of these lists that survived the rigors of time, but they all contain pretty much the same sequence of kings (tho’ spelt differently) to which are attached reign-lengths (which differ between recensions) and on rare occasions a piece of biographical information. The second extract refers to one of the first recorded monarchs of Britain, & a babel-chain between Cunedda & the PKL’s Canutulahina is both easy to create & to support, for the names of Cantaluhina’s immediate successors in the PKL have chispological correspondnaces in the Harleian MS, where Wradech transchispers into Ceretic, Dorornauch becomes Dunaut. We also have the chispological connections between the Historia Brittonum’s Cunedag variant for Cunedda, & the PKL’s Canutulachama variant.

We now fast-forward in time to the reign of Maelgwyn Gwynned, whose death in 547 is recorded by the Annales Cambraie as, ‘The great death [plague] in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’.  It is through a passage in Nennius that we can link Cunedda to Maelgwyn;
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Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.
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If we say that it was 20 years after his reign as the King of Picts that Cunedda left Scotland for Wales as given in Nennius, & that Maelgwyn had also been ruling for 20 years before he died, then the 146 years as given by Nennius gives us a tentative date of 361 for Cunedda.

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We may infer from Nennius that Cunedda had taken took up a position of power in the eastern central Belt of Scotland, the approximate area of Manaw Gododdin. That this region is was connected to his Pictish monarchy is remembered in the Pentland Hills, which were originally known as the ‘Pehtland’ Hills, after a variant name for the Picts also found in the Pentland Firth which seperate the Orkneys from the Scottish mainland. In East Lothian, at Traprain Law, a massive double-linked Silver Chain of the Early Christian period was discovered in 1938, a tangible hallmark of Pictish nobility.

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Nennius tells us that in the 4th century, Cunedda & his sons travelled from Scotland to North Wales, where they fought & defeated the ‘Scotti’ – the same Irish tribe that would eventually establish itself further north in Dalriada – & established the Kingdom of Gwynedd. The approximate 361 dates for Cunedda is significant, for in 367 we have historical evidence for the Scotti, & others, attacking Britain.  Known as ‘The Barbarian Conspiracy,’ it was eventually put down the following year by the Roman general, Flavius Theodosius.  The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, has all the details;

At that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.

When the Batavi, Heruli, Jovii, and Victores, who followed {Flavius Theodosius}, had arrived, troops confident in their strength, he began his march and came to the old town of Lundinium, which later times called Augusta. There he divided his troops into many parts and attacked the predatory bands of the enemy, which were ranging about and were laden with heavy packs; quickly routing those who were driving along prisoners and cattle, he wrested from them the booty which the wretched tribute-paying people had lost. And when all this had been restored to them, except for a small part which was allotted to the wearied soldiers, he entered the city, which had previously been plunged into the greatest difficulties, but had been restored more quickly than rescue could have been expected, rejoicing and as if celebrating an ovation.

While he lingered there, encouraged by the successful outcome to dare greater deeds, he carefully considered what plans would be safe; and he was in doubt about his future course, since he learned from the confessions of the captives and the reports of deserters that the widely scattered enemy, a mob of various natives and frightfully savage, could be overcome only by secret craft and unforeseen attacks. 10 Finally, he issued proclamations, and under promise of pardon summoned the deserters to return to service, as well as many others who were wandering about in various places on furlough. In consequence of this demand and strongly moved by his offer, most returned

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 We here see Roman Britain continuing in a state of reconciliation. Was Cunedda part of the attacking force & later redeemed, or did he stay put in Lothian all the while & remain loyal to Rome while the Barbarians hordes ravaged Britain. We know the Attacotti members of the Barbarian Conspiracy were absorbed into the legions, so Cunedda may have experienced the same treatment. It is imposible to say at this juncture, but the timing of his move against the Irish in North Wales in all likelihood seems connected to the Roman restoration of its Britannic power base after 368.

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Returning to the genealogy of Cunedda, I would like to show that he was the son of a human figure deified with some majesty by the Nordic & Teutonic races. The god was Woden, or Odin, but the man was given as either Edern (Jesus College MS20) or Aeturn (Harleian MS 3859). Aeturn-Waeturn-Woden is an easy babel-chain, but of course we need support.  We begin with Harleian MS 3859, which tells us how Tybion was Cunedda’s first-born son. This gives us a possible Woden-Cunedda-Tybion lineage, which has a mirror in the royal Anglo-Saxon genealogies of East Anglia. Here Caser would be Cunedda, with the name either corrupted from ‘Cune,’ or perhaps even Ceasar, which is a lofty rank similar to Cunedda’s ‘Guledig’ epithet.

Woden – (Aeturn)

Caser / Casser – (Cunedda Gwledig)

Titmon  / Tẏtiman / Titinon – (Tybion)

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 We should also examine Cunedda’s grandfather & great-grandfather, who appear in Jesus & Harleain as Tegyth/Tacit and Padarn Beisrud/Patern Pesrut. These names translate into Latin as Tacitus & Paternus, with the latter’s epithet meaning ‘of the red robe’, indicating a high rank in the Roman administration. A link to Rome is suggested by the Scandinavian record of Woden/Odin as recorded by the medieval chronicler, Snorri Sturluson, who places him in the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir.

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In the middle of the world was built a city called Troy. This is in the land of Turkey. Twelve kingdoms were there and one high King. In this city there were twelve languages. The twelve rulers were better than any human in all the world. One king was called Munon or Mennon. His son was called Tror, who we call Thor. He would later take control of Thrace, which we call Thrudheim. He travelled all through the world and found a sibyl who we call Sif. Thor married her. Their male descendents are Loridi, Einridi, Vingethor, Vingenir, Moda, Magi, Sescef, Bedvig, Athra (who we call Annar), Itrmann, Heremod, Scialdum (who we call Skiold), Biaf (who we call Biar), Iat, Gudolf, Finn, Friallaf (who we call Fridleif), and Woden. Odin is the name we use for Woden.

The chief Odin was a great warrior and travelled all over and gained many kingdoms. He was very victorious wherever he went. This made him very esteemed and praised so much so that everyone believed that he always won every fight and battle.

Odin was supposed to have great lands near the Turks. When the Roman Emperors were trying to conquer the world they dispersed many people and kings, who fled their lands. During this time, Odin used his magic to see the future and learned that his descendents would live in the northern parts of the world. As a result, he made his brothers Ve and Vili leaders of the people of Asaland and went off to the northern lands. He took with him all his priests and many of his people.

Odin conquered many lands and had many sons who he set as leaders upon those lands. His travels took him to Gardarik (Germany), then to Saxland. There they stayed for a while. Odin had three sons in Saxony, who were put to rule over the area:

Veggdegg, who ruled East Saxony.
Beldegg (who we call Balder), who ruled Westphalia.
Siggi, who ruled over what is now France. The Volsungs are descended from him.
Odin then went northward to a country called Reidgotaland (which is now called jutland) and conquered it. In this land he set his son Skiold as ruler. From him are descended the Skioldungs dynasty of Denmark. Snorri
He then travelled north to the sea and made a home in Odenso in Fyn, Denmark.

After this he went northward into Sweden where there was a king called Gylfi. When the Aesir (what the people of Asia are called) arrived King Gylfi offered them as much power as they desired in his land. Odin found the area pleasant to live in and settled in an area now called Sigtunir. In this new land he set up rulers in the same pattern as was seen in Troy. There were twelve chiefs to administer law, and he established a legal system as it was in Troy.

After this, he travelled north even more til he confronted the sea. He then set one of his son, Saemung (who all the rulers of Norway are descended), as ruler over this area, which is now called Norway.

The Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north. In this area, also, their language spread, the language of the people of Asia, and became the mother tongue there. Because of this, there are names for regions and places in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and England that come from the ancient language before the Aesir appeared.

Odin died in his bed in Sweden. As he approached death he had himself marked, or stabbed, with a spear point and dedicated himself all men who died through weapons. Odin was burned after his death and they say his fire was very glorious.

‘Odin was credited, the world over, as a god,‘ wrote Saxo Grammaticus, ‘which was false. He spent his time in Uppsala.’ According to my analysis, he was also connected to Britain, & Pictland in particular. The key passage in Snorri reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline.

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Woden was clearly once a mortal. We can now deduce he had at least some aristocratic Roman blood in his veins, & that he came from the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Woden’s grandfather could have been Titus Flavius Festus, who was the govenor of Asia c.286. Saying that, an earlier Titus – Titus Flavius Postumius Varus – was actually in northern Britain during the 240s as Legatus legionis of the Legio II Augusta. But I ruminate too far in unclear waters, altho’ Varus did at one point hold the position of the Augurship, whose prophetic abilites strike a tally with the prophetic powers of Snorri’s Woden.

The key passage in Snorri  reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline. Also of interest is how Woden took control of Denmark & Jutland, the very homelands of the Angles who would go on to invade & name the southern portions of Britain. What has always been a bit of a mystery is why an island of NW Wales, & part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, is also named after the Angles – Anglesey. However, if we were to simply place Cunedda in command of a group of Angles conquered by Woden & placed in the Hunnic imperial service, then all makes perfect sense.

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According to various lineages, such as in Bede & the Anglian Collection,  another of Woden’s sons was Vecta, who Snorri says was a ruler in East Saxony (as Vegdagr). His name was found etched inyo a stone memorial near Edinburgh. When Bede tells us Hengist was the ‘son of Vitgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden’ we have a direct match up to an inscribed 6th century memorial called the Cat Stane, which stands in the precincts of Edinburgh Airport. It reads;

 In this tomb lies Vetta son of Victus

This places the burial site of Cunedda’s nephew in Manau Gododdin, encouraging a belief that Edinburgh was named after Aeternus-Woden. The ‘Finnesburh Fragment’ describes Hengist & his men as ‘Eotona,’ a name which clearly derives from Woden, Hengist’s great-great grandfather. Hengist’s son, Octa, led the mid-fifth century conquest of Scotland, where according to the Lancelot-Graal, they fortified a very Edinburgh like ‘Rock.’ Thus Edinburgh was named, not after Woden, but the royal house which he had founded.

Further affirmation of Woden’s children being connected to the Pictish kingship comes thro’ Vetta, whose alternative names were given as Vegdagr & Waegdaeg. Chispering these together gives us Ve-gd-aeg, which transchispers into Vipoig, who is given in the King lists as ruling directly before Cantulahina/Cunedda.

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We must also look at Woden Hillfort in the Scottish Borders, near Kelso, which has a correctly-dated Roman influence. Canmore ID 58068 tells us, “Originally it was a native British fort, built in three stages – a settlement surrounded by a single, oval stone dyke, to which was then added a double rampart and intervening ditch. Both ramparts were demolished quite soon after completion, probably as a result of Roman road-building and occupation, and the site was only reoccupied by native peoples after the Romans left. Then the innermost rubble dyke on the top of the hill was built and faced with boulders. The Romans, however, seem to have used Woden Law for siege practice (if the so-called siegeworks are not simply part of the native defences). They dug a remarkable earthwork of two banks between three ditches at 12m-30m from the fort’s defences: in other words, mostly beyond the killing-range for hand-thrown missiles. Several flattened platforms on the outer bank seem to have provided sites for siege engines, protected by the inner bank and ditch, whilst beyond the main siegework, three further independent lines of earthworks were built in the customary Roman manner of short, separate sections. These are all incomplete. A further feature, the series of five cross-dykes spanning the easy ridge between Woden Law and Hunthall Hill, is pre-Roman however, and part of the native British defence system. Such cross-dykes are not uncommon in relation to hillforts in the Cheviotsi here they guard access from the main Cheviot ridge and emphasise the importance of the site and the route.”

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We have now come to the most fascinating piece of the puzzle. It begins with Cunedda’s Pictish name – Canutulahina. Breaking this down we obtain – Canutu – la – hina, which seems to translate as Cunedda the Hun. This Scythian tribe would rise to a devastating prominence with Attila in the middle of the 5th century, but it seems that a couple of centuries earlier among their number was counted Woden himself. The northern settlement of Woden & his people should then be responsible for the Hunaland region mentioned in the Eddas,  which some sources place on either side of the Gulf of Bothnia down to Gästrikland, in Sweden. The key evidence comes from the Völsunga saga, a late thirteenth century Icelandic text. in it we read that Sigi, Woden’s son as given by Sturluson, was also the king of the Huns. A priceless clue that dictates how if Sigi was a Hun, then his brother Cunedda should also be one.

Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055
Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055

The presence of the Huns in late Roman Britain was remembered by Bede, in whose Historia Ecclesiastica we read; ‘He knew that there were very many peoples in Germany from whom the Angles and the Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin… Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons, and Boruhtware (Bructeri).’ The last two tribes also appear among the allies of Atilla the Hun in his 451 invasion of Gaul. Two years earlier, what we may now observe as a Hunnish contingent led by Henghist were active in south England.  Octa, for example, the kinsman of Henghist  seems a variant of the Hunnic name Octar – Attila’s uncle and earlier ruler of the Hunnic Empire. It also seems likely that the ‘the elders of the Oghgul Race’ referred to by Nennius as advising Henghist were Huns. Oghgul – Mohgul – Mongol is a distinctly possible babel-chain, but more likely is a connection to the Oghuz Turks

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Where Nennius tells us that Henghist despacted reinforcemnet requests ‘to Scythia, ‘ in more recent times Lotte Hedeager has expertly shown how the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ homelands on the continent were made a part of the Hunnic Empire during the early 400s, maintaining a Hunnic presence throughout. Archeology tell us that gold open-ended earrings show the presence of the Huns in Denmark & Britain, where also a Dyerkan-type cicada brooch, found primarily in the Middle Danube, the Black Sea area and the Northern Caucasus (5th century), was discovered in Suffolk. We also have the Skjoldunge–Skilfinger texts, which descibe the early Norse rulers Haldan, Roo, Ottar and Adils – these names & their activities correspond to the fifth-century Hunnic kings Huldin, Roas, Octar and Attila.

That we have a record of the ‘Saxons’ in Britain at least as early as 441 (the Gallic Chronicle) & as we now understand, there were Huns in Pictavia, then we may now understand better a statement made by  Priscus of Panium,  who visited the court of Attila the Hun as part of an official delegation in AD 448/9.

No previous ruler of Scythia or of any other land had ever achieved so much in so short a time. He ruled the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to the whole of Scythia, forced the Romans to pay tribute. He was aiming at more than his present achievements and, in order to increase his empire further, he now wanted to attack the Persians.

Writers such as  Orosius & St Augustine were definers of the British Isles as among the ‘islands of the Ocean.’ We must also recall that 80 years later, the Romans also considered Britain to be under the ‘Giothic’ influence, with Procopius recording Belisarius as saying, ‘we on our side permit the Goths to have the whole of Britain, & the Hun-Goth connection  secured through Priscus, who said that Attila’s “Scythian” subjects spoke “besides their own barbarian tongues, either Hunnish, or Gothic.”

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We have also the fabulous possibility of identifying the Pictish symbols with the Hunnic invasion of North Britain, that they are based upon the druidlike, paganistic, shamanistic Tengrism of the Huns. Recent discoveries at a Pictish site at Dunnicaer have dated the symbols to a third or fourth century date – fitting in with the arrival of Cunedda into the Pictish King List.

 

CONCLUSION

To wrap everything up, the Pictish King List unveils a figure called Cunedda in the very time period that the Cunedda of the Welsh tradion came down from the north. Through significant Chispological protocol we learn that he was Hunnish, & that his father was Woden, a historical figure rather like Zeus, who was originally a Hyksos king known as Seuserenre before being deified by posterity. We also learn that the ‘Saxon Advent’ Britain was in fact only a small part in a long-term Hunnish conquest. ‘Given the cultural background,‘ writes Dr Caitlin Green, ‘of the time and the textual context of the passage in question, the most credible solution is arguably that the Western Roman ambassador to the Huns did indeed believe that Attila ruled in parts of Britain and its associated islands in the late 440s, as Peter Heather, C. E. Stevens and others have indicated in the past.

The New Divan: Greenshoots

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In Edinburgh a soul can call its home
As classical as Athens, Thebes & Rome
With catacoombs quite gloomy underneath
I’ve heard them say some flume as far as Leith
City of Gargoyles in the sandy stone…

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I am currently in the National Library in Edinburgh, typing up my first efforts at transcreating ‘A New Divan’ into the more uniform, Goethe-pleasing octosyllabics of ‘The New Divan.’ Over the weekend I got the rough openings to most of the 24 poems, which you’ll see shortly. Ive just had a book delivered to my desk which contains translations out of the Divan of Hafiz, from which I’ll transplant  a few nuggets into the text of The New Divan as we go. So without further ado, this is the state of play as of 12.35 on the 28th August, 2019.

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GILLES ORTLIEB: Mind The Gap

After mountains of Albania’s
Glimps’d thro’ portholes & the haze,
All downy & yielding, like cultures
Under microscopic gaze,
After distant lakes of mercury
Let us see the peaks at last,
See the ragged shores of Thessaly!
As the plane touches downcast,
Meeting July’s deep melted tarmac
Open door hot furnace frees
But feels like paradise to be back
Among these the blossom lemon trees

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RAOUL SCHROTTL: suleika speaks

Time after time, “Where are you from?”
Its all a blur, tormented bomb,
Dark memories of paths & routes
Laughing them off with substitutes;
My father hears the question too,
That same queer tone, that same brain screw,
Which drove him off from land & kin,
To taxifahrer, father’s chin
Gleams strong, when ends the night’s long shift
Wine glasses… one, two… he’ll uplift
Such keepers of our faith toast-rise
Shiraz into entempl’d skies!

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FADHIL AL-AZZAWI: Paradise on Earth

I see it as I leave the inn
The dark of night, an evil djinn
Close follows me, each step I take
Each step I shudder & I shake
Furious dogs barking behind
Down hunting me, out flung from mind,
I should drive this road’s solitude
I must sing madly, loud & crude!

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GONCA OZMEN: Knowingly Willingly

Insane the shadows that I taste
& speak to, tho’ I promis’d not

Love, keep me from my home displac’d,
Its nights especially boycott!

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JAN WAGNER: Ephesus Ghazal

With tyrants who cavort like gods,
Our early day the shortest odds,
There so severe was one in faith
His painters perpetrate a wraith
With shaggy face & eyes like sleet
Young jasmine seven at his feet
Preparing freedom swift, they hid
Themselves, before Dawn lifts its lid

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CLARA JANES: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

As Shiraz roses still upclimb
These pages thro, as does the chime
Sung by the Holy Fool that stands
Beside the well at dusk – my hands
Reveal the decorated cup
As if from it Jamshid did sup
Containing worlds within wine-pools
Where ripple stars, submerging jewels,

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HAFEZ MOUSAVI: The Name of that Sad Dove

The Parsi couple returning
From bathing their baby’s ashes
Under morning’s hot sun’s burning
Passing sadly by charr’d flashes
Of Baucis & Philemon’s hut
From their bones burnt smoke still rises
Likewise guest skeletons in soot
Heavy-hearted Herr Faust sizes
His realm long prized,  stretching endless
From this tower-top – Ode to Joy
Rings out, Europa whole to bless!

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Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan /PEN American Center

HOMERO ARIDJIS: The Creation of the World by the Animals

Across unmoving, dark blank sky,
Scarlet Macaw did flash & fly
Daybreak’s orioles yellow
With turquoise eyes, began solo
Dances of lightning honeybee
Sundering mighty Ceiba Tree

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REZA MOHAMMADI: Smoke

Unto the man I would return
Who inside, once, my shirt did burn

At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a ciggarette

I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro the crowd
That sweeps away plant, bird & cloud

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ADONIS: Letter to Goethe

I conjur’d, in the afternoon,
In your dear name, my night & moon,
I heard the Great Bear breathe & blow
Vain verses off to Earth’s blood flow
& in the cities, laws-wax seal’d
Found scrolls recited & reveal’d
To people made of wounds & bread
Who roam, asking the streets instead
Where do we come from, where’ll we go,
Erewhile the eastern moon did flow

My Spring of freedom, is it time
I’ll go on walking clime-on-clime
Does from the West the East now veer,
To ther moons offer its sphere,
I’ll go on walking – all allow’d
The soul is nothing but the cloud
Of sperm reveal’d as guises two –
Is it the image that time drew
With ink temptated yon amends
While space the other apprehends?

The West behind you but the East
Lies not before mine eyes releas’d
They are the river’s double sedge
One transcending the abyss edge
More than a rock, tis Sisyphus
Screaning the slopes, Sinbad wanders

——–

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KHALED MATTAWA: Easter Sunday, Rajab in Mid-Moon

A poet let us find down there
Beside the waves off Mozambique
Flown south had he to taste the air
Of those first migrants who did creak
Across the Earth, canoeing free,
Khidr’s eternal progeny!

——–

DON PATERSON: Eleven Maxims from the Book of Ill-Humour

Unleash a poem slow enough,
Fie with vigilance & care
& you’ll discover lots of stuff
That quite simply is not there!

In the country of the two-eye’d
Sentiment still holds the same
The one-eyed man still puffs with pride
For he has the better aim!

——–

AMJAD NASSER: Iron Horses

Tell me, bent branch, how came ye here?
How did you pass thro’ cobalt wood
Thro’ shrouds of white, to reach the sneer
Where fat hyenas feast on blood.

The God we’ve worshipp’d for so long
Abandons us this very night
No longer do we set among
Sanguineous heaven, his light!

——–

ABBAS BEYDOUN: Suleika & Marilyn

I heard my throat deep from the well,
The wolf my brothers’ summon spell
Invok’d, did hear & fled to Hell,
My shirt with others’ blood did swell
My father’s eyes were still a shell
But were they real; that shirt, that well?
Was desert a false infidel?
Was Wolf himself an actuelle?
What waited yon the parallel?
Of surfac’d Earth’s detention cell
But the Prophet’s road to Egypt!

——–

Durs Gru?nbein 

DURS GUNBEIN: The Devil in the orient

Today’s slogan buzzword goes, ‘lie!’
newspapers, TVs, politics
Are duping voters with dark tricks
War’s still our master, as awry
Falls everyone – friends, enemies –
Morass’d by chutzpah perfidies
Reminding of the Auschwitz lie.

——–

IMAN MERSAL: Your Smell is the World’s Dust

The fish the seller touts bushwhack
Belongs to the sea no longer
Washing lines & salt smell stronger
As I pass the woman in black.

——–

ANGELICA FREITAS: The Peacock on the Roof

It flies, its up there on the roof
Of the hostel, extraordinairre,
At that same time a bird aloof,
I know not how it flies thro’ air
This ashram silence souls restore
Ten days of peacocks, none dare speak,
From sitting legs-cross’d on cool floor
My knees groan aching as they creak.

———–

FATEMEH SHAMS: Electrocardiogram

My back she aches again today
Three months ago they moved my heart
& ledg’d my vital spine apart
Then wedg’d it in the vertebrae
Now each musk-fragrant breath depends
On one thin vein that empties blood
From darkness to new heart blood wends,
My idiotic bruise of vein
My wanton whore of heart, the pain
My back endures nobody should.
My ECG supplies, these days,
My news, headlines from past suck’d out –
A woman used to laugh about
Her love for one man & his ways,
When lavish hearts love’s healths endow
Form windows facing long exile,
These bunch’d red muscles bled servile
I wish it were a mirror, now!

The New Divan: Genesis

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Its been a while since I posted on my blog, but a new project has just popped into my psyche which will have a natural home here. The subject matter is the transcreation of a book called A New Divan, recently released by Gingko. It had been inspired by the 200th anniversary of a collection of poems by Goethe, itself inspired by works of the medieval Pesian poet, Hafiz. I had no idea either existed, & thoroughly enjoyed my education into the texts at the recent Edinburgh International Book Festival, of which you can read more of here.

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The main premise of the book is to mirror Goethe’s subjects & themes using an international array of poets, whose creations would then be translated into English by another set of pets. Like a poetical UN. Intrigued, I requested a review copy from Gingko, which duly arrived yesterday. Running through the poems gave me the distinct impression that the collection was unfinished – that to match a production by Goethe, & the musical poetics of Hafiz, a single synthesizing mind had to work the ‘notes’ to order. With yesterday also being my last day reviewing at the Edinburgh Fringe, & with a full month’s worth of poesis stored in my creative antechambers, the catalyst had been sparked. I felt almost like Hammer did when hearing Hafiz in the original Persian for the first time, now compelled to translate it into German.  I felt almost like Goethe did on hearing Hammer’s translation for the first time, now compelled to create a western reply to Hafiz.

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This morning I set to work. The vast majority of Goethe’s Divan is cast in octosyllabic metre, with simple but effective rhyme schemes. This of course I had to emulate, into which mould I would try & replicate the literary trickery of high-brow Persian poetics. Ultimately its the spirit of Goethe we are trying to please here, and I’m sure he’d be quite averse to Free Verse.

Its still early days of course,  but a project worth pursuing. This morning I began transcreating the openings of five of the 24 poems, & am satisfied, even happy, with the effort thus far. Once I have opened all 24 poems – perhaps this evening in the Lammermuirs – I will then turn to them one-by-one & publish them here in 2s or 3s. The resulting piece, then, drawn from A New Divan, I shall name THE New Divan. 

———————————– 

Hafiz, Herr Goethe, wait for me!

Forming triplet fraternity,

By chance, or not by chance, I heard,

Entrancing dances of the word,

Rose Voice of East, rose Voice of West,

Where voices lay choice words to rest,

I’ll pluck them up, I’ll dust them down,

Then cap them with my laurel crown.

 

 

An Interview with the Mumble

Poetry


Damian Beeson Bullen’s definitive 2019 collection has been described as ‘The Sgt. Pepper’s of Poetry.’


Me - Profile (2).jpgHello Damo, so when did you realise you were a poet?
My first poetical moment came when I was like 7 or 8 – there was a poetry competition at Lowerhouse Junior school in Burnley. I won I think, & the opening couplet I still remember; ‘The river flowing by is often wide & high.’ Roll on a few years & I won a Christmas story competition at Gawthorpe high school – it was the story of a leaping being who turned out to be a snowflake. There was no technical poetics, but it was a visionary metaphorical piece. A few years later I was studying music in Barnsley Music College, & it was there one night while reading through William Butler Years that I realised I was actually a poet. I quit college soon after & set off for the English South Coast with a guitar & a yellow suitcase full of poetry books.

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What are your thoughts on the poetic art itself?
There’s a passage in Plato’s Euthyphro which always piqued my interest, I really feel it defines what the poetic art is all about. ‘He (Daedalus) only made his own products mobile, while I apparently make other people’s mobile as well as my own.’ This ‘mobility’ is what makes the magical energy of the best poetry fly on the wings of inspiration into the poems of others. To my mind, poetry works on two levels, basically the local ‘zeitgeist’ & then the eternal tradition. If you look back to the 18th century, English poetry was essentially rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter. In the same way, some modern poetry editors wont even look at rhyming poetry – according to them we dwell very much the age of free verse. But like the fashion for the Georgian couplet became a busted flush during the Romantic period, free verse is also only a fashion & will inevtibaly be superceded at some point by something else. To be honest, this proliferation of Free Verse masks the fact that there are a lot of poets out there claim to be poets, but don’t really know anything about the craft. I find technique extremely important. I’m always trying to be a complete poet & I’ve realised I have to be serious about studying & experimenting with form – including free verse, of course, which I think is just a small piece in a big jigsaw.

What do you think is the poet’s role & do you identify with it?
Good question. Well, the poet has always been a teacher, but also an entertainer. I like the blend myself, keeps things interesting. A poet should also be connecting with their readers/listeners on two levels; inviting them to think is the intellectual, & inviting them to feel intuitively is the spiritual. The latter is the seer element to poetry, what the Romans called the Vates. Some say poets are merely the human receptacles of divine inspiration, & there’s probably some truth in that. As Horace says in his Ars Poetica, ‘It is not enough for poetry to be beautiful; it must also be pleasing & lead the hear’s mind where it will.’ I also love Phillip Sydney’s, ‘this purifying of wit, this enritching of memory, enabling of judgementy, & enlarging of conceyt, which commonly we call learning, under what name soever it com forth, or to what immediat end soever it be directed, the final end is to lead & draw us to as high a perfection as our degenerate soules, made worse by theyr clayeye lodgings, can be capable of.’

What is it about composing poetry you love the most?
Its difficult to explain. Its part validation, part duty, part pleasure – there’s nothing like exercising the mind. I also do most of my formal composition, lets say, out in the fields, up in the hills, walking with notebook, paper & my thoughts. There is also nothing like the feeling of knowing you’ve just written a poem which contains the pure juice of Parnassus – you can just tell when it happens. As an artist, I am fascinated with the prosodic elements of poetry – the Welsh call it cynghanned, & its not called composition for nothing. You’ve got to create a symphony in the mind. I do love my music & poetry is, to me, an instrument as important as my bass guitar.

Can you tell us about Completely Novel?
Completely Novel is a brilliant way to circumvent the cliquey world of publishing. They are a fabulous self-publishing service who facilitate print-on demand copies being sent anywhere in the world at a few clicks of a button. I pay a wee hosting fee every much – its not much at all – & get to publish ten books, all with shiny ISBN numbers. Its brilliant. They’re really nice folk to work with too. There’s nothing to stop me ordering as many books as I want, as well, to sell independently or through bookstores.

You have just released a collection of poetry through Completely Novel called MUSICALS. How did you choose the poems to be included?
I selected the poems from 20 years of composition. Some, especially the sonnets, are just as they were composed originally. Others can be quite edited-down versions of longer epyllia. The poem about Pendle Hill, for example, is about 5 percent of the full piece – it contains the quintessence of my inspirations ,if you will. Over the years I’ve always had moments of editorial, when I’d look at my all work in the bank, & see where my new compositions fitted in to the overall scheme. Its a bit like a crawling snake – the ancient symbol for wisdom by the way –  after every pulse forward it pauses & half recedes, & from the retrogressive movement collects the force which again carries it forward. With Musicals I think I’ve finally reached my destination, or at least a place to hang out for a while, promote the book, do some readings & stuff, maybe even some slams. It’s been over a decade since I performed my poetry in public.

Are there any unifying themes?
There sure are. Poetry is about bringing all of its constituent parts into harmony. With Musicals the same principles apply, & the book is flush with harmonizing forms & themes. At its core the text is an autobiographical journey across the world. I’ve also got a nice sub-plot with a romantic interest called ‘Rosie’ – its a Stone Roses thing, big fan. She’s actually an amalgamation of a number of ‘love poems’ what I’ve written over the years. The lady I’m with now, however, provided most of these – she’s my proper soul-mate, like, my muse. As for the title, of course we have the ‘muse’ embedded in the name, but I also feel like each of the chapters is a bit like a musical – a combination of narrative, drama & lyricisim.

You have put Musicals online for anyone to read – what’s all that about?
Well, Lord Byron said a true gentleman shouldn’t make any money from writing. He did make a fortune the sale of Newstead Abbey, though, enough to fund an army in the Greek War of Independence, so he would say that. The idea is essentially they same, tho, anyone can read my work online – but, if I sell copies that’s a bonus. I am not alone in appreciating the true beauty of proper books is their tactility – so I’m catering for both worlds here, the modern internet-haunter & the traditional lover of the page. You’ve also gotta go with the times, & my online versions will eventually all have youtube videos of me reading the poetry. Another bonus to doing it online is that I can make corrections & improvements at any point. My plan is to release fresh editions of the book by uploading a new file & replacing the old one – its quite a simple process really. So in 2020 there will most probably by a second edition of Musicals.

Musicals has been described as ‘the Sgt. Pepper’s of poetry,’ why is that?
Well, I think it’s the mixture of form & content. With Pepper’s you have English country garden vibes, Indian mysticism, proper rock & Roll, all complemented by a wide variety of instruments & musicianship. In a similar war Musicals expresses political terza rima, transcreations of Tamil love paeans, reworkings of English folk songs, free verse sonnets, French sonnets composed in Italian – I could go on. There’s loads of influences in there, its packed.

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What other titles have you released?
Musicals is the ninth book in what I call the Pendragon Collection. A few years ago I kinda realised I had actually embark’d on something like the classical bardic training as described by Julius Ceasar. This passage I basically took to heart & soul & it became my mantra; ‘In their schools they are said to learn by heart an extraordinary number of lines, and in sometimes to remain under instruction for as many as twenty years.’ I started to take the poetic vocation seriously in in 1997/98 – I was 21 years old at the time – so as my own twenty years of training began to climax, I thought it prudent to draw a line in the sand of my studies. The final collection has 9 titles, of course; alongside Musicals there are another five collections of poetry, including my main epic, Axis & Allies, which I pretty much worked on during the full twenty years.

The vast majority of poems in the Musicals collection are taken from these five volumes, excepting Axis & Allies – essentially, this epic is for posterity, but Musicals for the now. The Pendragon Collection also includes essays on poetry, personal epistles telling the stories of my adventures, & the final volume of the nine, which I’ll be re-releasing later this year, an assemblage of historical studies called The Chisper Effect.

So what have people to expect from Musicals?
Well for a start its the very best of my very best work, & that means colour. I try & put a lot of colour in my poetry – so much modern stuff is like a twilight sky of opalescent grey! There’s also the travelling element – people get to go to Italy, Greece, India, America & even beautiful Burnley. I enjoy poems of place, Byron’s Childe Harold & Wordsworth’s Tours of Europe for example, so it was natural that I’d create something similar. Along the way its a composite blend of all the ‘Ms’ – theres a mixture of music, moods, moulds (ie forms) & measures Just as a poem’s form can be divided into MEASURE & MOULD, so a poet’s voice is divided into two composite halves; the MOOD & the MUSIC. The Mood can be defined as a trance which envelops the poet as they compose their piece. The Music is the pure artifice of linguistic creation as the poets translate their Mood into words. Understanding such a pretext, the order of poetical creation is as this; Mood (then) Music (then) Measure (then) Mould.

What is the poetical future of Damian Beeson Bullen?
Well, I’ve just set up a youtube channel into which I’m going to pour as much poetry knowledge as possible (subscribe here). At some point I’ll be filming me reading every poem from Musicals, which I’ll put on the channel… mult-media presentation of the material & all that. Compositionwise, I’m just coming towards the end of the American Epic – Stars & Stripes. I’ve been composing it since September 2017, & as of the 20th March 2019 I’ve got about 25 stanzas left out of 245. Its funny being a Burnley boy writing the American Epic. But no-one else has done was or was doing it – I guess there’s not many epic poets about these days. Anyways, my lady is American & directly descended from a colonel who fought with George Washington against the British. That was the catalysts & I’ve produced some good stuff I think. When that’s finished I’ve got a sneaky suspicion I’m gonna write something about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, maybe have Seamus Heaney guiding me like Virgil led Dante through Hell.


READ THE BOOK HERE

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Only £5.99 via Completely Novel

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American Tinderwolves

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Yes! Yes! Yes! Very excited at the moment. I’m just putting the finishing touches to a definitive collection of my poems. The best bits of twenty years of writing, plus some really good stuff that has been blossoming into my mind recently like fields of Winter cale. Last night I powered on into & through my notes, & came up with the final new piece for the collection – American Tinderwolves – a landscape portrait of the social media dating phenomenon.

——————————————

AMERICAN TINDERWOLVES

Fifteen years since Facebook,
Seven since Tinder,
Deft swipe left, swipe right on Mr Right,
Millennials’ howitzer love,
Orgasmless orgies of unorganic matches,
Fyre Festival, Baby!

The great American city,
Melting pots of broken egos,
Perfect Mexican food,
Favignana tuna-girls waiting to be spear’d
By stray Tamil peacocks
Buffeting unhomeopathic streets.

In the south west of Arkansas
A reddish factory chimney totters,
The old gal who once work’d their sighs;
So many memories, good & bad,
Nearby her grandaughter’s on her phone,
Lost in the Now’s ever-enticing grap.

After Humanity’s greatest revolutions;
Agricultural, industrial, technological,
Masturbating with strangers on Skype,
Heteroflexible, genderfluid jargonelles
No-one knows who they are anymore,
Scattersouls titching day to day.

Like the colony-forming smooth sumac
An epidemic of opioid dimesions
Sweeps thro’ Californian beanfields,
Flaps along Manhattan skylines,
Twitterbirds & Tinderwolves,
Isolated with patiences of puppies.

When I was dating, wearing slippers
I used to take the family phone
The door-cubicle at Seven Arran Street,
& natter for hours,
Meet up later, kiss, then meet again,
& maybe, just maybe, get married!

Humanity steers towards sex,
Human evolution needs sex,
Do drunken frat guys ever grow up,
Penis pics & bits of sleazy text,
‘I would love to ride you!’
‘Hey wanna suck my dick?’

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Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Hinge, Meash
Match.com, Revealr, Tastebuds, Hapn;
‘Australian/British/Canadian
Having a blast travelling round the world –
In London for a couple of days,
I’m looking for someone to explore with.’

Are women merely body parts?
Bastillions in an uneven playing field,
Scrolling thro’ blogs of beautiful peers
For hours of futile hours,
Never gonna be, never gonna have,
By low self esteem envelop‘d.

In these Barbie & Ken technocultures,
Unreal, ideal relationships
Stelliferous perfection for all to see,
Overwhelming physical appearances,
Everything & so much of what you are
Depends on looks & smiling.

Packs of Tinderwolves leave the woods,
Guys flashing engorged fish,
Sexually provocative gals
Puckering out cleavage,
Breast flesh & friendliness,
Sex always sells.

It’s a turkey shoot at the Turkey Dump,
Sliding superficially into fossick DMs;
Pay money, improve emojis, get laid quicker,
White pecking pigeons loving the game,
The out-of-body ‘its a match’ jackpot,
Or going back & try your luck again.

She’s large-glass tispy for her date.
He’s late, shes drunk, thinking of bailing,
*frantic group Whatsapp*
Umm he’s here ohmygod.
‘I thought he had blonde hair?
DON’T NOTICE ME

‘My roommate would love you!’
Out goes the emergency text,
In comes the emergency call,
‘Your brother’s in the hospital…’
‘Your dog just died!’
Running in heels. Far.

The allure of sex keeps us consuming,
Everybody’s multi-messsaging,
Termites in a mound of shite,
Cushioning back-up prospects,
Protecting peripheral phantasies,
Polyamorous buffet love.

Ruthless romeos, predators pouncing,
Supersensitve issueladens;
Guys are balls in a pinball machine,
Girls are flippers defending the hole,
Pushing them in right directions
To stack up pussy-points.

Can a clitiris commit
To only one tongue?
Early morning dipouts,
Sympodial confusions,
When one little phone call
Could clear up everything.

Guys open the Kittenfish Catalogue,
Looking for half-night hook-ups,
Thinking they deserve perfect tens,
When of course they’re only sixes,
Unleasing Tinder Tsunamis
In fourteen-pages of vulgarity.

Where floateth intimacy’s preciousness,
Established by passion-trysts inseperable?
Swamp’s by dates of sexual obligation,
Tin-kettle time, innoculated chemistry,
& then we start making out like fish,
Ignorant of pneumatological desires.

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Sometimes situationships develop,
After a successful Cuffing Season ;
Southern Belles looking for their Cowboys,
I’ve never fucked a black girl –
Breadcrumbing becomes Benching,
Until Netflix Chills the norm!

He tells her he loves her, lactescently,
Lovebombing like a hardshell stalker,
But stashing her into non-existence
Until 4 AM – ‘Hey you wake up
Time to come & sit on my face now!’
Slow Fade follows, then dismettl’d Ghost.

I walk hand-in-hand with my Rosie
The great American city on our ears
She says she loves me as much as New York
Well, as much as its Harlequinade
We fell in love in a natural environ
As on West Thirty-Ninth, near pier Seventy-Nine

As she’s messaging someone else’s fuckbuddy
As she’s walking down a sunlit street,
She bumps into her one true soul mate,
But with both of them focuss’d on little screens,
They move on without the slightest of glances –
Unmatch’d, unromanced, & sad… forever!

——————————————

COMING SOON

DAMIAN BEESON BULLEN’S

‘MUSICALS’

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Saint Patrick’s Boyhood Home

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Getting out the Tithe Parish map of Briercliffe, 1845 (Burnley Library)

Using the secret histories locked within words, Damian Beeson Bullen identifies the boyhood home of Saint Patrick


I have been often startled by the latent powers of words, when even the smallest & most innocuous of place-names can be an eternal storehouses of so much history. I urge anyone this day to take a walk in the countryside, note the names of the cloughs & the hills, & let us weave a secret history, drawn from the phonetical landscape. SW Partington, in his ‘Danes in Lancashire,’ writes of this most pleasurable of literary past-times;

An eloquent modern writer has declared, with a good reason, that even if all other records had perished, “anyone with skill to analyse the language, might re-create for himself the history of the people speaking that language, and might come to appreciate the divers elements out of which that people was composed, in what proportion they were mingled, and in what succession they followed one upon the other.” From a careful analysis of the names of the more prominent features of the land; of its divisions, its towns and villages, and even its streets, as well as the nomenclature of its legal, civil, and political institutions, its implements of agriculture, its weapons of war, and its articles of food and clothing, — all these will yield a vast fund of history.

In recent days, while looking at the places & names of places around my home town of Burnley in Lancashire, to which I added a rather copious amount of reading, I believe I have made a discovery of some significance – the location of Saint Patrick’s boyhood home. Before he spread the name of Jesus throughout pagan Ireland, the young Saint Patrick was just doing the things that young lads do in a place called by him Bannavem Taburniae. He tells us as much in a precious, self–penn’d ‘Confessio’ in which we may read;

I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, … had for my father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest of the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villula nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen year of age… I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people.

Here we learn how Patrick was taken to Ireland by some kind of slave raid – so his home must have been within striking distance of the coast. We also discover that his father, Calpurnius, was a Christian official called a ‘deacon,’ & he was connected to the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae. Finally, we learn that near Bannavem lay was the family villula, which translates as the country house of a farmstead.

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On first examination, the name Bannavem Taburniae seems corrupt, & indeed c.700 AD, the situation was clarified by Patrick’s hagiographer, Milúch, who tells us, ‘this place, as I am informed beyond hesitation or doubt, is Ventre.’ This lets us create a new name-combination for the boyhood home of Patrick, being; Banna Venta Burniae. There is another Bannaventa in Britain, near the village of Norton in Northamptonshire, & is named thus in the mid-second century ‘Itinerary’ of Antonius Pius. What we may logically conclude is that the second Bannaventa came later, with an addition of ‘Burniae’ applied for the purpose of differentation.

I would now like to point our investigation in the direction of 10th century in England, when the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle spells the same person’s name differently in succeeding entries;

A.D. 931. This year died Frithstan… and Brynstan was blessed in his place.
A.D. 932. This year Burnstan was invested Bishop of Winchester

What we can infer here is that during the 930s Burn & Bryn (Brun) were interchangeable, & the alteration may have been brought about by Athelstan himself for he was recorded by Layamon’s Brut (c.1200) as instigating etymological changes during his reign;

How Athelstan here arrived out of Saxland
& how he set all England in his own hand…
& the names of the towns in saxish speech…
& in Saxish he gan speak the names of the men.

Numismatic support for an earlier ‘burn’ comes upon coins minted by Athelstan’s father & grandfather – Alfred the Great – which give the moneyer’s name as Bernvald.

 

h1411x22.jpgSuch knowledge allows us now to create with confidence a slightly different name for Patrick’s boyhood home; Banna Venta Bruniae. Later in the 930s, in 937, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the Battle of Brunanburh. This epic conflagration saw King Athelstan of England defeat a confederacy of Vikings, Scots & Northern Britons. Variant names for the battle are given by Symeon of Durham – Wendune/Weondune – & the anonymous Scandinavian text, Egil’s Saga – Vinheath. These alternative names have proven problematic to academic inquiry, but may now be reconciled with the Brunanburh name through Patrick’s Banna Venta Burniae, locking these two historical jigsaw pieces fast together. Furthermore, both the ‘dune’ & ‘heath’ elements of Wendune & Vinheath mean the same as banna: pinnacle, peak, mountain, bare hill, etc. A little extra glue comes from the fact that just as Milúch describes Banna Venta as being ‘a place not far from our sea’ – i.e. The Irish Sea – so after the battle of Brunanburh, the defeated Vikings fled to their ships & entered the Irish Sea on the same day as the battle.

The West-Saxons pushed onward
all day; in troops they pursued the hostile people.
They hewed the fugitive grievously from behind

Departed then the Northmen in nailed ships.
The dejected survivors of the battle,
On Dingesmere, sought Dublin over the deep water,
to return to Ireland, ashamed in spirit.

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I don’t have the space to offer a complete survey of the Brunanburh case, but there can be no doubt that wherever the battle was fought, on account of covering both Dark Age bases, the boyhood home of Patrick must be now be the leading location. As to where this was situated, there is a great deal of evidence both subtle & blatant that points to Burnley as being the area in which the Saxon fortified ‘burh’ of Brunanburh once stood. Quite tangibly, its trenches can still be made out to this day at a place called Castle Hill near Townley Hall.

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Castle Hill lies on the round hill just behind Townley Hall.
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The Western Trench @ Castle Hill…

An Anglo-Saxon burh formed the central administrative point of the administrative ‘Tun,’ from which we get the name Tunlay, & thus, Townley. In the 12th century, Towneley formed part of an ancient township called ‘Tunlay-with Brunshaw,’ with the latter name meaning ‘Brun’s Wood.’ The clearing, or ‘lea,’ in this wood would eventually become Brunlea, & if my calculations are correct, the name-flip from Burn to Brun instigated by Athelstan in the 10th century would last last more than three centuries 0 before reverting to its original form in the late 13th century as Burnley.

Further back in the first millennium AD, evidence for Roman settlement in the Burnley area leading up to the birth of Patrick comes in the name of the town of Colne, which appears as Calna in a charter of Henry I. This leads to the the Ravenna Cosmography Calunio, placed in the right area of Lancashire between Ribchester & Ilkley. When analyzing its history, we should  notice that in the lists of Northern Roman camps, Calunio was not in existence in the time of Ptolemy (2nd century AD), but exists in the 6th century, when it appears in the Ravenna Cosmography.

To the north, at Barnoldswick, ran a major arterial Roman road, from which minor roads branched into the Burnley area, such as the one that goes past Portfield on Pendle – the ‘Ad Alpes Peninos’ given in Richard of Cirencester Itineray –  passing the villages of Sabden & Newchurch on the slopes of the same hill, down into Barrowford, along Wheatley Lane, up again to Castercliffe hill fort  – which may have been Calunio itself – & then on into Yorkshire where it concludes at Ilkley, given as Alicana in the Roman geographies. There are also traces of another road that goes through Burnley itself, up to Cliviger, then over the moors to Slack, near Huddersfield, where the ‘Cambodnum’ Roman fort is sited.

Numerous Roman coins have been found in the Pendle-Burnley area; in the sunken lane at the foot of Castercliffe, at Wheatley lane, in Burnley & finally at Emmot, near Colne, where according to TT Whitaker, writing in the year 1800, ‘a large silver cup filled with them was turned up by the plough in the latter end of the 17th century.’ Speculating further, Roman forts were generally attended on by the local population, who lived next to or near the fort in a settlement described as a vici – the semantics of which can be observed in the name, Wycoller, a time-capsule village just to the east of Colne.

Returning to the investigation of Patrick’s boyhood home, there is more information given in his ‘Confessio’ which proves relevant. To carry the investigation further, let us analyze the names Venta, Ventry, & by association, Wen. All these names suggest that by Patrick’s time a group of Roman foedarati from a tribe known as the Wends had settled in the Burnley area. According to Wulfstan, they heralded from a place called Weonodland,’ as in; ‘Weonodland was on his starboard side and to portside, he had Langeland, Lolland, Falster and Scania. These countries all belong to Denmark.’ Clearly, when Symoen of Durham named ‘Weondune,’ he was referring to the ‘dune’ of the ‘Weonds.’ Other names for the tribe include;

Old English: Winedas
Old Norse: Vindr
German: Wenden, Winden
Danish: Vendere

These variants connect neatly with the Vinheath of Egil’s Saga, which in Burnley terms links to the hamlet of Winewall near Colne, & I am quite sure the Battle of Winwead was fought at Barrowford.

The arrival of the Wends seems connected to their defeat in Europe by the Romans in 277 AD, after which they were given lands in Britain. Zosimus writing of a Roman general called Probus, states, ‘his second battle was with the Franks, whom he completely conquered with the help of his generals. Then he fought the Burgundians & Vends… When the armies engaged each other, some of the barbarians were slain, others were taken prisoner by the Romans, & the rest sued for peace, accepting the condition that they surrender their booty & prisoners, but since, although their request was granted, they did not hand over everything, the emperor angrily punished them by attacking them on their retreat. Many were killed & their leader, Igillus, taken prisoner, & all the captives were sent across to Britain where they proved very useful to the emperor in subsequent revolts.’

The last sentence is key, for it places the Wends in Britain at a place well-sited for handling a rebellion, suggesting a northern location. If this was in Lancashire, we can understand the proper origins of a number of Probus coins found in the county; such as at Worden, on the outskirts of Leyland, whose name also seems a variation of ‘weodune’ Similar coins were also discovered at Burnley itself, where WT Watkin describes 126 copper coins known as ‘radiates’ of the late third century AD, while the coins found at Castercliffe were minted at the same period.

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My wife at Pendle, a couple of miles from Roughlee.

Wendish tribal sub-groups included the Sorbs & the Ruggi, both of whose names are present at Pendle Hill, the great whale-back peak which dominates the Burnley skyline. The village of Sabden (Sapedene 1296) means ‘long, narrow valley of the Sabs,’ the ‘Sab’ phonetic of this name being quite rare in Britain, & of unknown origin. Yet it is easy to introduce the idea that Sabden was once ‘Sorbden.’ ‘The present-day Sorbs,’ writes Gerald Stone, ‘may be regarded as descendants of the Slavs who moved into Lusatia in the 6th & 7th centuries… it seems likely that the ethnic name srbi was then in use among them & was later retained both by the Sorbs & by those other Slavs (the Serbs) who moved southwards to the Danube.

Another Wendish subgroup were known as the Rugii, whose name seems to have inspired the Pendleside village of Roughlea, known formely as Rugelea. In the 8th century, the venerable Bede stated that the Rugii formed part of the composite Anglo-Saxon layer to the English gene-pool;

The Angles or Saxons, who now inhabit Britain… are still corruptly called ‘Garmans’ by the neighbouring nation of the Britons. Such are the Frisians, the Rugini, the Danes, the Huns, the Old Saxons, and the Boructuari

We may also detect the Rugi element in an alternate slave-name given to saint Patrick; Fiacc’s hymn tells us; ‘He was six years in slavery; Human food he ate it not. Cothraige he was called.’ At the other side of the valley in which Burnley lies, we come to the hamlet of Roggerham. This is where things get interesting, because hard by the modern village there are the remains of a building, dated to the mid 4th century, given the name Ring Stones Camp. The Wends are known for building circular camps such as the this one, a visit to which was recorded over centuries ago, by  TT Wilksonson;

Passing through Thursden Valley, to a corresponding crest on the opposite ridge called Bonfire Hill, at the distance of about a mile, we find another circular intrenchment, 130 feet in diameter… This encampment is surrounded by an earthwork rampart, which is still comparatively perfect on three of its sides, and easily traceable on the fourth. The rampart measures 700 feet in length by 450 in average breadth

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Ringstones

At once we gain a semi-hit to the final variant name given for Patrick’s boyhood home by the ancient sources. The Hymn of Fiacc, traditionally ascribed it to a fifth century bard, tells us Patrick was born at ‘Nemthur.’ Now this does not necessarily mean it was the same place as Banna Venta, but the ‘thur’ element does appear in the ‘Thursden,’ which may have once been called ‘Nemthur’s den.’ The name seems to derive from nemeton, which means ‘sacred space’ in Brythonic, & which easily becomes Eamoton, a place where Athelstan received fealty from the petty kings of Britain – & then Emmot. This place lies near Colne, where a sacred well called ‘Hallown’ has been sited since deep antiquity supporting the Nemeton link. There is also the intriguingly tantalizing possibility that ‘Bonfire Hill’ derives from Bannaventa, as in;

Bonfire
Bannafire
Bannave
Bannaventa

Another early antiquarian visit to Ring Stones was made by James Stonehouse’s in the mid-19th century;

As we pursue our ramble along the road towards Roggerham, we arrive at a farm house on the right hand called “Rotten”; and a short way beyond it find a gate on the same side. Opening this gate we discover a narrow road, having in the centre a pavement of large boulder stones, the footway on one side being skirted by a stone wall which enclose portions of the moor; on the other a thick hedge. An unobservant person even would notice something unusual in the appearance of this bye-road. The mystery of it-if there be such a thing as a mystery-is soon made manifest. The road is found to lead upon the open moor land, and where the enclosure walls end it gradually becomes lost in the moorland and herbage, although its track can be really discovered rising over the hill before us. But before it becomes so hidden in the heather and the thick grass it passes an enclosure of some 200 feet by 160 feet, that the antiquary and the archaeologist would not fail to gaze upon with deep and absorbing interest. The road is Roman. As the Romans left it, there it is. The enclosure is Roman. As the Romans constructed it, there it is; at least what remains of their handywork. The enclosure is the remains of a fort erected by this great nation, when occupying this part of Britain. The fort is known by the people of the vicinity as “Ring Stones Camp.” The walls, at least as much as is left of them, are about a foot high from the interior surface. Outside the Vallum is a foss or ditch. It is deep in some portions, and filled up in others. It seems to be of the true V shape by the inclinator of the sides. The walls appear as strong as when the soldier mason laid stone upon stone and spread the strong concrete that has hardened till it rivals the stone in durability. At one of the sides, there is an opening where stood the Decuman gate. On the side facing it is another opening. This is the Proetorian gate, so called as being near where the Praetor fixed his quarters. In the centre of the enclosure are great inequalities of ground which, if carefully examined, will perhaps exhibit some of the arrangements of the encampment or fort.’

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Ring Stones camp is located near a certain Swinden Resevoir, whose name clearly contains the ‘wendune’ semantics. It has been dated to the Fourth century on account of its great physical similarity – especially an identical gateway – with ‘Bomber Camp,’ sited by a Roman road near Gisburn, where a collection of early to mid Fourth Century pottery was unearthed. Just to the north of Swinden reservoir, at Twist Hill, there also stands another Roman-British farmstead, 44m by 40m. A bronze coin of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180) was reportedly found here in 1888, which is much earlier than Patrick, but shows an even earlier settlement of the area.

It is at this point that I will add a wee drop of speculation into my theory, I always enjoy finishing thusly, for the close connection between the camps at Gisburn & Roggerham may be in fact down to an actual human familial relationship. Where the Hymn of Fiacc tell us Patrick was; ‘Grandson of Deochain Odissus,’ a few miles to the west of Gisburn, in the delightful Forest of Bowland, we may see a River Dunsop – possibly connected to the ‘Sorbs’ – flowing into the River Hodder, which might just have been named after Odissus.

To summarise, a large Romano-British farmstead building was erected at Roggerham in the 4th century which fits the country estate image given by Patrick’s ‘villula.’ Roggerham lies near Burnley, which matches the Burniae element of Patrick’s boyhood home. Burnley seems to have been the site of the Battle of Brunanburh, also named Wendune, which translates perfectly as Patrick’s ‘Banna Venta.’ The only speculative thought is Burnley’s identification as Brunanburh – but if the battle was fought near that bonnie Lancashire town, then its clearly a case of killing two birds of mystery with one scholarly stone – & a few archaic words.

Upper Hell

Botticellis-Inferno-e1528782824541

 

Strophe

 

Around me grew the pathless shadows of life’s dark wood

Three Beasts block’d my way

Leopard on the path clad in light revealing lingerie

Lion fills my ears with fear, roaring modern cacophony

She-wolf eyes my rucksack daring to rid me of money

 

 

At the point of defeat I heard a human voice,

I am the shade of Virgilius of Rome,

                 Poet to Augustus & the false & lying gods!

     You must take another road & if you follow I will guide you,

The place eternal waits, where shrieking ancyents wail for second death

 

 

THRO’ ME THE WAY INTO THE WOEFUL CITY

THRO’ ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN

THRO’ ME THE WAY AMONG THE LOST PEOPLE

ABANDON ALL HOPE THOSE THAT ENTER HERE

         Clapping hands *  Screams of anguish

     Haunted sighs  *   Lamentations

             Loud Wailings  *   Strange Tongues

         Horrible Lingua  *  Words of Pain

 

 

 

Behind a shifting banner I saw so many people,

A train of wretched shades by black & loathsome river

Where daemon upon hovercraft beams eyes of burning coal

This is the Acheron,” said the poet, “& that is Charon!

Father of the livid marsh, watcher of its river crossing!”

 

 

Souls, like leaves of Autumn, ping into his craft

Driven on by divine justice, until the tree drew bare

&, as a new crowd gathers while the pilot sped away,

A red blaze shone, dark winds struck up, my senses overcome,

I shudder & fall like one seiz’d with sudden sleep

 

 

Heavy thunder awakens me

Rested eyes survey the Valley of Pain

Deep & dark & blanketed in vapours

The poet turns to me, painted death-pale with pity,

Let us descend into the blind world down there…”

 

 

We stepp’d into that abysmal place

Serpent-realms girdling the infernal world

Where countless wailings rise, & sighs forever tremble

Where swell vast crowds of men, women & little children

 

The Poet turns to me with sad, sad eyes,

 

 

These did not sin, they have merit enough,

But were born before the Harrowing of hell

Faith’s gateway by them never meant to know

& so… are lost…”

 

 

 

 

Epode

 

 

A blazing light shone beyond that forest of thronging spirits

& we went thither to a noble castle set apart;

Seven walls of intelligence protected from immorality

A gentle stream of eloquence stood watch over the dark

Guarding a gallant tribe, gazes of grand authority

Observe us as we drift there, men like the dashing Aeneas,

Ceasar, Cicero, souls of science & philosophy;

Aristotle, Plato…

then turned back to their playstations

Apart from an old man who came over to greet us

His name was Homer, & we talked of poetry & of

Our noble school of eagle-song, then when converse done

We pursued a sloping drawbridge to a place without light.

 

 

Here Minos stands guard

Horrible, snarling, Judge of the Dead

 

 

Encircled by his spiral tail his sinners are hurl’d below

To a place of muted light where a restless, hellish storm

Blows them hither, thither, upward, downward,

Lamenting & blaspheming the great Power of God

 

 

“These are the carnal sinners that forever reap LUST’S whirlwind

                                    Of a life subjected to their heart’s desires,

      No hope of rest or comfort from the lust which drives their souls”

 

 

Thro’ battling winds long line of shades pass like hungry cranes,

 

When you abandon yourself to a love that is nothing but love

                                         You are in hell already!”

 

Three-headed Cerberus perceives us

Bares bloody fangs, fierce & hideous

Groveling in the sunken mire

About the Great Worm of Hades

Dante 6

 

My master throws handfuls of dirt into three ravenous gullets

Calming the devouring Beast,

Who, mumbling, lets us pass to a pitiful place,

 

Upon this spot falls an eternal, cursed rain

Unceasing measure, cold & heavy hail, foul water, snow,

Fallen souls lie hungry & helpless in the mud

 

 

“These know a strange & loathsome penalty,

Flesh-loving fools, far from luxurious banquetry,   

Yielded their souls to food without spiritual motive!”

 

 

Then we went around that curving road, lost in conversation

To come on Pluto at the point where path fell steep

 

“Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!”

 

 

Clucking monotone warning from the old god of Hades,

The baron of Zeus, Lord of the Grecian underworld,

Who once lost his kingdom to the arch-villain’s armies,

Not now forced into lowly lieutenant-hood

 

 

“Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!”

 

 

My Master rants,

“Silence accursed wolf, our journey has been willed on high!”

As wind-swollen sails fall aheap when tall masts snap,

The cruel beast fell

 

            Antistrophe

 

 

Passing beyond the whimpering God of Wealth,

We follow the serpentine tail

Scampering down the dismal slope

To where fresh toils founder & pain is newborn

 

 

God’s justice flings sinners into wild tormenting whirlpools

Jostling & jousting & dueling with sharp credit cards

 

 

Who are these souls that pierce my heart?”

“They are the hoarders & squanderers of Avarice,

Who embroil’d their lives worshipping material existence,

Now all the gold that ever was beneath the moon

Will never grant them rest!”

 

We left that circle & its endless scuffle

To walk on ever deeper thro’ the flame

Descending to a greater wretchedness

Entering marshy STYX beside a gloomy stream,

Gurgling Purple

 

 

This circle’s inhabitants are the Angry

Smiting each other in the sucking slime

Head, hand, breast

 

Virgilius turns to me & sings,

“These signal wings will sweep us deeper through the grand malign”

 

 

Phylegyas crosses the dismal hollow in his dirty, little boat

Single silent oarsmen guides us down a stagnant channel…

gustave-dore-digital-art-cutting-the-waves-from-dantes-inferno-by-gustave-dore

Defiant fallen angels mount approaching iron walls

Our poet pipes a ballad of Christ’s Harrowing of Hell

Whose memory demands those daemons let us pass this day

Thus we found unhappy Dis, woeful Satanic stronghold

                                      

From tower’s top three blood-stain’d furies wail

Tesiphore, Alecto & Megaera

Naked-breasted, Hydra-hair’d, black tongues rasping

                 “Summon Medusa to turn these fools to stone!”

 

Turn thy back,” said the poet, “& shut thine eyes,

           Lest the Gorgon show herself & trap us here forever!”

 

Hand-blinded we hurried on ‘til they were safe to open

Before a flamey plain full of pain & torment

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                         “Who are these buried in those open, funerary chests?”

                         “They are the self-deluding, messianic, arch-heretics,

Tardisesque their followers are buried deep beside them”

 

 

Further into the Morning Star’s domain

Scatter’d massive mountains of red & ruin’d rocks

One was thus inscribed,

                                      ‘I hold pope Urban II

                Whom Adolfus Hitler drew from the straight path’

 

     ‘This marker means we soon shall reach darkest depths of evil

                        Come let us rest awhile beside this unbelieving pope.”

 

 

Our spirits scent-adjusted to the vile stench of the Devil

We drew a breath of stagnant air & puked into the Pit

Gunk tumbling down a cliff face, three terraces divided

When Tasso met Shakespeare

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Good golly, is it that time of year already? Gosh, what a summer that was, probably the best in my decade & a half of living in Scotland. But yes, it is now early September, the brambles are out & its time to get back to work. I’m in the process of getting my two epics properly online (update to come), while over the summer I have decided to present my Chisper Effect book as a series of chronicles, very much easier on the eye & doubles the informativeness of the materielle. Of course, the Shakespeare sections are already in said format, which leads me to this next essay, which I hope to compose in the next day & a bit in the NLS. A couple of days back, while working on the final stages of Axis & Allies, I had in front of me several epic poems to dip into; The Kalevala, the Kalevipoeg, Don Juan, The Inferno, & also Tasso’ Jerusalem delivered. Casually glancing at his brief biodates, as we got closer to the Shakespearean Grand Tour period, my sense began tingling, & then BOOM! Tasso was in the Venuto Plain in the exact period as Shakespeare (according to my calculations). A couple of googles later & there were enough linking strands to support a fresh hyperfact – Shakespeare & Tasso met each other in 1586.

The following chronicle entries are the results of my studies between 3PM on Thursday the 6th September 2018, & 5PM on Friday the 7th. With three hours to go I discovered, from a nineteenth century life, that Tasso left prison in early July. Through this I was able to reach the conclusion that after Algiers, Shakespeare returned to northern Italy ,en route to Prague, which is indeed the natural route.

330px-Torquato_Tasso5th or 6th July 1586: Tasso released from the asylum

After seven years of poor mental health, Torquato Tasso is finally released from Hospital of St. Anna at Ferrara at the request of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua. Gonzago was a major patron of the arts and sciences, and turned Mantua into a vibrant cultural center.
On his release, Tasso was given a beautiful apartment in the palace of the old duke of Mantua, William, furnished with all the conveneinets & comforts he would need. Perfect conditions for poetry, then, & such an encouraging climate inspired Tasso to rework his 1573 tragedy Galealto Re di Norvegia into a new drama, Torrismondo.

1586: Shakespeare & Tasso meet in Mantua

Also appearing in Mantua (on inheritance business) in August 1586 was the great musician & librettisT, Allesandro Striggio. Just as he was about to leave for Florence,  Duke William invited him to stay & reside in Mantua as a gentleman of the table, ‘including the expenses of three servants and three horses, and the salary which he usually gives to his other gentlemen.’ Analyzing the letters of Striggio, in the one sent to Federico Cattaneo, Mantua, 21 August 1586, we learn that Duke William was looking for young instrumentalists, &  gives a lovely flavour of the age;

I have received from Messer Flavio Riccio Your Illustrious Lordship’s note and I have informed him that in Florence there are two lads, aged 16 or 17, but they are poor and brought up by Franzosino of the Abandonati. They play cornett, transverse flute, viola and trombone. Franzosino has them play constantly, every day on the Grand Duke’s balcony [on the Palazzo Vecchio; or the Loggia de’ Lanzi] and at table. They also performed at the comedy which the Grand Duke put on for the Ferrara wedding (Florence, 1586). They do not have a regular salary from His Highness, although they are constantly in service. But they go about playing in churches, accompanied by the organ, wherever necessary, in Lucca and Pistoia and elsewhere, as requested. One of them would be suitable for His Highness [Guglielmo Gonzaga], and although they are not altogether excellent they are at least more than passable. Because they are dependent and obligated to Franzosino, who has taught them, it is necessary to refer to and come to an agreement with him; also to clothe and provide shoes for them, for they are still supplied with clothes from the Ospedale, and they still eat and sleep there, unless things have changed since I left Florence.

There are several pointers which suggest that Shakespeare encountered Tasso while visiting Mantua. Tasso’s sister was called Cornelia, the same name as Titus Andronicus which I suspect Shakespeare was comping at the time. The birth of the bard’s version of Hamlet may have also been born from this prodigious meeting. We have the dramatical Scandinavian regal motif, the clear connections between Hamlet’s madness & that of Tasso – both occasionaly feigned – & we can trace a connection between Hamlet’s drawing of his sword in his stepmother’s chamber, where he killed the chief counseller Polinus; & Tasso’s drawing of a knife on a servant in the Duchess of Urbino’s apartment in 1577. The famous play-within-a-play embedded within Hamlet concerns the very family into which Tasso had been released. It appears in Act 3 scene 2 as a play called The Murder of Gonzago (or The Mousetrap), during which we hear;

He poisons him i’ th’ garden for ’s estate. His name’s Gonzago. The story is extant, and writ in choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.

It is a delightful thought to imagine the Italian poet reciting some of his magnificent poem, Jerusalem Delivered, to Shakespeare in Mantua. One character in the epic that may have stuck was the Saracen sorceress, Armida, who in the strongest moments of emotion forgot her spellcraft & resorted to tears & prayers & persuasions. A few years later, when Shakespeare was writing Anthony & Cleopatra, he has the latter do just the same;

CLEOPATRA
O my lord, my lord,
Forgive my fearful sails! I little thought
You would have follow’d.

MARK ANTONY
Egypt, thou knew’st too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings,
And thou shouldst tow me after: o’er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knew’st, and that
Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
Command me.

CLEOPATRA
O, my pardon!

MARK ANTONY
Now I must
To the young man send humble treaties, dodge
And palter in the shifts of lowness; who
With half the bulk o’ the world play’d as I pleased,
Making and marring fortunes. You did know
How much you were my conqueror; and that
My sword, made weak by my affection, would
Obey it on all cause.

CLEOPATRA
Pardon, pardon!

MARK ANTONY
Fall not a tear, I say; one of them rates
All that is won and lost: give me a kiss;
Even this repays me. We sent our schoolmaster;
Is he come back? Love, I am full of lead.
Some wine, within there, and our viands! Fortune knows
We scorn her most when most she offers blows.

index1586: Tasso inspires Hamlet

I would now like us to look introduce Hamlet into the mix, a play supposedly from Shakespeare’s middle period. The Hamlet story initially burst into literary life with Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century. Could it be that during Shakespeare’s time with Tasso that he began to court the same affection for Scandinavian royal dramas of the Middle Ages as the Italian poet. Perhaps Shakespeare had picked up a copy of François de Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques (published in 1574) while in France, in which Saxo’s story was given great embellishment. Perhaps meeting Tasso was the catalyst for Shakespeare to create what is called by scholars the ‘Ur-Hamlet’ (the German prefix means primordial). No copy of the Ur-Hamlet has survived, but its existence must date to before  1589, when Thomas Nashe in his 1589 preface to Greene’s prose work Menaphon entitled To The Gentlemen Students of Both Universities, referred to the ‘English Seneca read by candlelight yields many good sentences, as ‘Blood is a beggar,’ and so forth; and if you entreat him fair in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say handfuls, of tragical speeches.’ The Seneca-Hamlet connection can be clearly seen with;

the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns (Hamlet, III. i. 78-80)

sera nos illo referat senectus.
nemo ad id sero venit unde numquam,
cum semel venit, potuit reverti (HF. 864-6)

dic sub aeternos properare manes
Herculem et regnum canis inquieti
unde non umquam remeavit ullus.
(HO. 1525-7 altera versio, remeabit ill)

By 1596, Thomas Lodge would be writing of ‘the Visard of the ghost which cried so miserably at the theatre, like an oister-wife, Hamlet, revenge.’ Two years later, Dr Gabriel harvey recorded, ‘the younger sort take much delight in Shakespeare’s Venus & Adonis; but his Lucrece, & his tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wiser sort.’ Finally, & after a long road of development which began in the 1580s, Hamlet as we know it would eventually be entereed into in the Register of the Stationers’ Company in 1602.

Back in Mantua – or Bergamo – let us imagine Shakespeare being inspired by Tasso’s work on the Torrismondo to create Hamlet. Louise George Clubb describes in both plays, ‘a preoccupation with genre, with experimentation with hybrids & structure is made manifest by conducting a critical action simultaneously with a dramtic fable, underlaid with a paradigmatic myth calling attention to genre. In both, the choice of Scandinavian medieval chronicle is the sign of the sequence to come: from history to myth to genre to critical contemplation of structure. In short, Shakespeare & Tasso were upping their game with some pretty innovative drama, whose familial offerings in the history of theatre are with each other & each other only. ‘The materials of Torrismondo & Hamlet, adds Club, ‘allowed for a confrontation of ostensible history with undeclared myth in plots which silently claimed kinship with the very arguments cited by Aristotle.’ It certainly feels as if Shakespeare was inspired by Tasso’s Torrismondo, which was being created in the very moment & the very city where I am placing the William Shakespeare of 1586.

1586: Tasso & Shakespeare in Bergamo

It is distinctly possible perhaps that Shakespeare’s knowledge Shakespeare’s knowledge of sail-making at Bergamo given in The Taming of the Shrew came from a visit there with Tasso. It was Tasso’s paternal town & the reception was said to be splendid.

1586: Shakespeare sees Tasso’s ‘Aminta’ at the Mantua Carnevale

Following its quiet debut in Ferrara in 1573, & more public performance at the 1574 Pesaro Carneveal, Tasso’s Aminta became a highly influential success, with Lisa Sampson observing, ‘Aminta was rapidly seized upon for scenarios, episodes & characterisation by a wide range of writers from all over the peninsular.’ A 5 act play, it seems that Shakespeare witness, & was enriched by, the play at first hand. Love’s Labours Lost borrows from the Intermedio II chorus of Aminta, which first appears in a printed edition in 1665, while As You Like It also contains direct translations & numeorus echoes. Shakespeare must have witnessed the play at first hand. Shakespeare seems also to be heavily influenced by Tasso’s mythology-steeped Renaissance Pastoralism, described by Cody as, ‘the Platonic theory of a good inner life, accomodated to the literary myth of the courtier as lover & poet. In the Italian Renaissance… pastoralism becomes the temper of the aristocratic mind: the reconciling of discors & contradictions in the medium of the work of art, that shadow of the ideal.’ Cody also describes Shakespeare as integrating Love’s Labours Lost into the, ‘Elizabethan aesthetic Platonism under its pastoral-comical aspect,’ adding, ‘the advantage of recognizing that the orthodox, elegaic Italians & the festive English comedian speak a common language of pastoral Neo-Platonism is considerable.’

Other plays to possess a strong streak of this consciously artificial, highly allegorical, hyper-mythomemed Pastoralism are Twelfth Night & the Two Gentleman of Verona, the latter worldscape described by Cody as ‘clearly the Italianate courtier-lover’s world, translated,’ adding, ‘the series of groups into which the play resolve sitself is pastoral & kinetic in the  manner of the Aminta.’ There is a clear connection, for just as in Aminta, the heroine is called Sylvia; & just as in 2GV Silvia is pursued & threatened with rape by Proteus, so in Aminta a satyr kidnaps & nearly rapes Sylvia. Cody also compares 2GV’s Silvia scene to Tasso’s work, stating, ‘it is the one scene in which Shaksepeare successfully invokes the ‘magic potency of the theatre,’ seeking as Tasso does in his third intermedio in the Aminta to gather up his audience into the art of his play by reminding them of  a reality beyond their own.’ Perhaps the most pastoral of the plays, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was created in 1595 – for William Stanleys wedding – & includes a passage heady in the language of pastoral myth, which also seems to nod at the early death of Tasso, also in 1595,

The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.”
We’ll none of that: that have I told my love
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
“The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.”
That is an old device, and it was played
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
“The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.”

The passage above also makes reference to Hercules, allusions to whom also crop up in the other two early Pastoral comedies, LLL & 2GV. ‘Not that the comedies are the earliest of his plays,’ writes Cody, ‘in which pastoralism appears. In the histories there is at least one important pastoral theme among the cluster of commonplaces concerning Fortune, Nature, & the Prince: it has been termed ‘the rejection of the aspiring mind.’ It is central to the Henry VI trilogy, as witness the scene on Towton Field (2.5); & Shakespeare continues to develop it, more satisfyingly than anywhere perhaps in Henry IV.’ Cody also connects the garden scene of Richard II to the Renaissance habit of observing nature on a divine plane, stating, ‘It is to this aspect of the tradition – a Neo-Platonic landscape of the mind, mythopoeically conceived, as by Tasso in his Aminta – that appears to have been the model for Shakespeare’s orginiative experiments in romantic comedy.’

NOVEMBER 1586
Shakespeare sketches the Tempest
One word in the play particularly stands out, ‘amazement,’ used in a context as confusion in a labyrinth. This same usage appears in both Venus & Adonis & The Rape of Lucrece, supporting an early date for at least an Ur-Tempest. Gary Schmidgall describes Prospero’s, ‘guiding & moderating task‘ with, ‘Tasso’s old wizard for the mariners, whose reason has been baffled by human frailty, greed & ambition. The mariner’s maze is ultimately of their own making, & Prospero’s project has been to cure them of this ‘affliction’ through the power of reason. Shakespeare’s allegory is the same as Tasso’s: reason (Tasso’s ‘soveraigne part of the minde’) is the only true guide in the labyrinth of human expoerience.’
Shakespeare’s recent brush with Tasso & Pastoralism also worked its way via osmisis into the bellyflesh of The Tempest in the form of the Arcadian romancings of Ferdinand & Mranda.

 

Bibliography
Butchart, David: The Letters of Alessandro Striggio (in) Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, No. 23 (1990),

Clubb, Louise George – Genre in Torrismondo & Hamlet (in) Shakespeare and the Literary Tradition (1999)

Cody, R : The Landscape of the Mind (1969)

Lawrence, Jason : Tasso’s Art and Afterlives in England: The Gerusalemme Liberata in England (2017)

Leavis, FR:  The Common Pursuit (1952)

Preeshl, Artemis Shakespeare and Commedia dell’Arte: Play by Play (2017 )

Sampson, Lisa : Pastoral Drama (in) A History of Italian Theatre (2006)

Schmidgall, Gary: Shakespeare and the Courtly Aesthetic ( 1981 )

Ward, AW: History of English Dramatic Literature, v2 (1899)

Wiffen, JH: The Life of Tasso (1859)

 

 

Chispology 8: Shakespeare’s Blossom

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chisp cover

Continuing the serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

CHISPOLOGY

In which a few more of the world’s greatest mysteries… are finally solved

Available to buy in book form

Autumn 2018

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This next chapter represents a continuation of my Shakesperean studies, focusing upon the years 1588-92. In the Chisper Effect I spent two whole chapters on Shaskespeare’s Grand Tour, while we have just seen the prelude to the moment our bard join’d the Earl of Derby’s retinue on its way to Paris. In the Chisper Effect, the last of my chronological entries in the Dark Lady chapter showed how, fresh from his European tour in the company of Shakespeare, William Stanley returned to his home in Lancashire. Did he return in a state of mild arrogance as suggested by William Harrison (1587);

 The usual sending of noblemen’s and mean gentlemen’s sons into Italy, from whence they bring home nothing but mere atheism, infidelity, vicious conversation, and ambitious and proud behaviour, whereby it cometh to pass that they return far worse men than they went out….. they have learned in Italy to go up and down also in England with pages at their heels finely apparelled, whose face and countenance shall be such as sheweth the master not to be blind in his choice

For ease of dictate I shall repeat the final entry of the Dark Lady, & continue in the same chronological fashion until the moment Shakespeare’s star has truly risen over the world of London theatre in the spring of 1592

1587
DECEMBER
Stanley spends Christmas in Lancashire

In the year of 1587 the plague came to the good folk of Lancashire. This was bad, but the return of our gallant & sun bronzed adventurers cheered up the county no end. Stanley, especially, would have cut a dashing image; 25 years old, fully tanned & full of exciting tales from his travels. He may even have taken his great friend Shakespeare with him to Lancashire. Our young bard was 23, fresh from a Grand Tour, & flush with the creativity that would soon manifest itself as some of the greatest plays the world has ever seen. As our party arrived at Knowsley, Shakespeare’s knapsack would have contained the manuscript copies of his & Stanley’s co-written plays, such as Titus Andronicus, & Pericles. They may even have been performed that Christmas at Knowsley when the Household Books record ‘Sir Thomas hesketh plaiers.’ No evidence exists for these players having performed the early Stanley-Shakespeare plays, but it certainly feels right, & if so, the events surrounding their debut as playwrights were recorded in December 1587;

On fryday my Lord the earle came home from cowrte & the same night came my Lord bishoppe, mr stewarde mr recyver mr foxe, on saturday Sir Thomas hesketh plaiers went awaie

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1588
SPRING
Shakespeare in London

On the 24th April 1588, William Shakespeare turn’d 24. He was now in the full prime of youth & beauty, bubbling with that particular propensity for sheer genius. As for his sexuality, falling in love with William Stanley seems to have had a hand in some kind of alteration, for it must be noted that from this moment on Shakespeare sires no more children, & would eventually leave his bequeath his wife their ‘second best bed’ in his will. The timing of his return coincided with an epoch of great national importance, for the Spanish were assembling a huge fleet ready to sail up the channel in order to help ferry across the Channel a great army of invasion they were massing at the French coast.

Shakespeare’s England was on the rise; possessing a fledgeling colony in America & mercantile interests across the globe. Just as it is today, London was both a thriving international sea-port & a cosmopolitan national capital. The city was fueled by such a melting-pot of culture, attracting the best of the provincial talents, that the Elizabethan theatre would evolve into its capsules of dramaturgical, philosophical brilliance, helped no end by having the genius of Shakespeare in the mix. ‘He began early to make essayes at Dramatique Poetry,’ recorded Aubrey, ‘which at that time was very lowe; and his Playes tooke well. He was a handsome, well-shap’t man: very good company, and of a very readie and pleasant smoothe Witt.’

1588
SUMMER
Shakespeare enters Thomas Watson’s circle

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Enter Thomas Watson. The English College diary at Douay records on October 15, 1576, ‘Dominus Watson went from here to Paris.’ Like Shakespeare, who also benefitted from the poetically-charged atmosphere of the English College, Watson would become a profound & prolific poet. In a verse preface to his Latin version of the Antigone (1581) he gives us a little gloss concerning his life;

I spent seven or eight years far from my homeland, and learned to speak in diverse tongues. Then I became well versed in Italy’s language and manners, and also thy our tongue and ways, learned France. Wherever I was wafted, I cultivated the Muses as best I could

It seems very much that Watson’s time on the continent was a surreptitious escapade in Catholic scholarship. It is also likely that he met the Italian Jesuit Metteo Ricci during this period, for a system of local memory training Watson would publish as a treatise in 1585 was identical to the one used by Matteo to wow the Chinese when he was there.

the year after he went to Paris, Watson is back in Douay, where we read ‘August: on the seventh day Master Watson, Master Robinson, Master Griffith, and some others left for England because of the riots.’ On his return to England, Watson was living in Westminster, where he began to write poems for his ‘Passionate Century of Love’ (1582) – the first significant sonnet sequence of the age. These sonnets were actually three comblended sestets – ABABCC – the form which Shakespeare would us for his Venus & Adonis. Indeed, in the Polimanteia (1595) a certain WC describes a ‘Wanton Adonis’  (Shakespeare had just published Venus & Adonis) as ‘Watson’s heyre.’  In addition, Watson’s 1585 Latin poem, Amyntas, ends with their heroes transforming into flowers (as in V&A), while Watson’s translation of Coluthus’ erotic Raprus Helenae (1586) may also have influenced the poem.

By 1589 Watson had become the tutor to John Cornwallis, son of William, a high-ranking, yet Catholic, advocate of the Queen’s Bench. William Cornwallis described Watson as being able to, ‘deuise twenty fictions and knaveryes in a play, which was his daily practyse and his liuing.’ Watson’s theatrical bent is confirmed in the Palladis Tamia of Francis Meres in 1598, which places him among such eminent company as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Drayton, Johnson & Kyd as being ‘our best for tragedie.’  Only one of Watson’s plays survives, from 1589, called ‘The Trewe Misterie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke’ with its obvious Shakesperean connotations.  That Shakespeare was actually Watson’s friend can be discerned thro’ analyzing a line in sonnet 32, the full text of which reads;

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love.

The key line is ‘march in ranks of better equipage’ which connects to a statement by Nash, in his preface to Greene’s Menaphon (1589) which expresses that Watson’s works, ‘march in equipage of honour.‘ Watson died in 1592, & if I am right, then this sonnet was written after that occasion, & when Shakespeare writes, ‘had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought, To march in ranks of better equipage: But since he died and poets better prove, Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love,’ he is stating that tho’ better exist than Watson, the love he professes in his poetry is worth emulating.

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In the National Archives there is the Prerogative Court of Canterbury copy of the will of Sir William Cornwallis, from 1611, which tells us that he became owner of an enormous mansion known as Fisher’s Folly in 1588, on the site of the present Devonshire Square. Described as a huge structure with ‘gardens of pleasure, bowling-alleys and the like,’ it had up til then been in possession of the Earl Of Oxford, who made the place the, ‘headquarters for the school of poets and dramatists who openly acknowledged his patronage and leadership,’ a fertile breeding ground indeed. In 1588, Cornwallis’ daughter, Anne, became the transcriber of a short anthology of sixteenth century poetry known as the Cornwallis-Lysons manuscript. This leather-bound quarto bears the large feminine signature, “Anne Cornwaleys her booke,” & contains an attribution to a certain WS. After coming into the possession of James Orchard Halliwell in 1852. He soon became convinced that one poem in particular would appear as Shakespeare’s in the 1599 collection of poems attributed to Shakespeare known as the Passionate Pilgrim.

Now hoe, inoughe, too much I fear;
For if my ladye heare this songe,
She will not sticke to ringe my eare,
To teache my tongue to be soe longe;
Yet would she blushe, here be it saide,
To heare her secrets thus bewrayede.
Cornwallis-Lysons

But soft; enough, too much I fear,
Lest that my mistress hear my song;
She’ll not stick to round me i’ the ear,
To teach my tongue to be so long:
Yet will she blush, here be it said,
To hear her secrets so bewray’d.
Poem XIX, The Passionate Pilgrim

1588
SEPTEMBER
Shakespeare in court

On Michalemas (September 29th), 1588, the Court of Common Pleas in London heard a case between William Burbage of Stratford and John Shakespeare, the poet’s father. The matter concerned was John Shakespeare’s remortgaged property at Wilmcote. John Lambert had taken on the property, but had refused to pay £20 that he owed our poet’s father. This saw John Shakespeare bring a ‘bill of complaint’ against him, naming William as a partner in the suit.

…et quod dictus Johannes Shackespere et Maria vxor eius, simulcum Willielmo Shackespere filio suo…”

What is fascinating about the case, is that of all the attorneys in London John Shakespeare could have chosen, he selected John Harborne, the son of William Harborne, the very ambassador in Constantinople where we have placed William Shakespeare. Scholars have brushed over John Harborne, imagining there to be no relevance in the quest for the historical Shakespeare. That Harborne’s father was an ambassador in Constantinople would have been irrelevant, for the academic community has scoffed at Shakespeare’s presence in Italy, let alone Turkey. Instead, it is through John Harborne that we gain support for the Shakespeare–Stanley–Constantinople factochain. Harborne was trained at Clement’s Inn, & he seems to be satirised as Justice Shallow in Henry IV Part 1, who is also said to have studied law at Clements. One passage in particular relates to our investigation

SHALLOW
By yea and nay, sir, I dare say my cousin William is
become a good scholar: he is at Oxford still, is he not?

SILENCE
Indeed, sir, to my cost.

SHALLOW
A’ must, then, to the inns o’ court shortly. I was
once of Clement’s Inn, where I think they will
talk of mad Shallow yet.

Where Justice Shallow refers to ‘my cousin William’ who was at Oxford and who ‘must then to the Inns of Court shortly,’ we gain a complete match for William Stanley, also an Oxford man, that ‘good scholar’ who enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn in late 1588.

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1588
AUTUMN
Shakespeare gets to work

On his return to England, Shakespeare began to convert all the materials he had collected on his travels into theatrical gold dust. His mind would have been burgeoning with ideas; a few rough sketches of scenes & storylines, & perhaps a number of drafted passages of poetic speech, for in the words of William Wordsworth, ‘poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.’ In 1588, George Puttenham entered his Arte of English Poesie at the Stationers’ Hall, published by Richard Field the following year, which Shakespeare was definitely familiar with. WL Rushton has identified over 200 literary links between Puttenham’s Arte & the works of Shakespeare, & there is one passage in particular that seems to be the Shakesperian manifesto;

There were also poets that wrote openly for the stage, I mean plays & interludes, to recreate the people with matters of disport, & to that intent did set forth in shows & pagaents common behaviours & manner of life as were the meaner sort of men, & they were called comical poets, of whom among the greeks Meander & Aristophanes were most excellent, with the Latins Terence & Plautus. Besides those poets comic there were others, but meddled not with so base matters: for they set forth doleful falls of unfortunate & afflicted princes, & were called poets tragical. Such were euripedes among the others who mounted nothing so high as any of them both, but in based & humble style, by manner of dialogue, uttered the private & familar talk of the meanest sort of men, as shepherds, haywards & such like

As Shakespeare entered his mid-twenties in April 1588, his dramatic muse was starting to explode in lights & sound & colour. Our budding bard would have been inspired by the growing popularity of the profession; the likes of Thomas Kyd, whose Spanish Tragedy had just taken London by storm, & Christopher Marlowe, the writer of such fantastic pieces as Dido, Queen of Carthage, Tamburlaine the Great, & Doctor Faustus. Of Shakespeare’s ease of composition, ‘Ben Jonson writes, ‘I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line.’

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The keen-eyed Shakespearian scholar, TW Baldwin, highlights allusions in the Comedy of Errors play to the Armada & Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, which was published in 1588. There is also a clever pun about France, ‘making war against her hair,‘ referring to the civil war fought in 1589 in which Henry of Navarre allied with King Henry III of France following a public uprising over the French king’s assassination of the Duke of Guise. Baldwin points to a passage in the play which seems to describe Finsbury Fields, one of the sites of London’s public executions;

The Duke himself in person
Comes this way to the melacholy vale
The place of death & sorry execution
Behind the ditches of the abbey here

In the 16th century, Finsbury Fields were separated from Holyrood Abbey by ditches. Baldwin goes on to say, ‘It would appear that on Saturday morning, October 5, 1588, William Shakespeare attended the execution of William Hartley, seminary priest, in Finsbury Fields, near the Theatre & Curtain; & there received certain impressions which shortly afterward appeared, transmuted by the magic of his imagination, in the Comedy of Errors.’

 That Love’s Labours Lost is one of Shakepeare’s earliest plays was recognized early on. Charles Gildon wrote in 1710, ‘since it is one of the worst of Shakespeare’s Plays, nay I think I may say the very worst, I cannot but think that it is his first.’ To this, Clare Asquith adds, ‘now the first and dominant conviction at which we arrive in a rapid reading of the text is that Loves Labours Lost was written as a topical play; that it bristles throughout with topical allusion; and that most, if not all, of its characters were meant by shakespeare to be portraits or caricatures of living persons.’ The name ‘Armardo’ is a clear reference to the armada, while the play also makes reference to the Martin Marprelate controversy which raged from 1588-89.

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1588-89
CHRISTMAS
Shakespeare at Knowsley

The Stanleys were Oxford University boys, & would had grown up with the long-standing tradition of plays being acted out over the festive season. MJ Davis writes, ‘Christ Church & St Johns were the two colleges where drama flourished most. At Christ Church there was a decree that two comedies & two tragedies – one of each in Greek &, the others in Latin – were to be acted during the Christmas season each year. Whereas Cambride excelled in comedy, Oxford excelled in tragedy, with Seneca’s plays prominent towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign.’ In the same fashion, over the Festive season of 1588-89, two different plays were acted to a great pantheon of northern dignitaries. The Household Accounts book describe the events of the theatrical festive seasons;

29 December 1588 – 4th January 1589

Sondaye Mr Carter pretched at which was dyvers strandgers, on mondaye came mr stewarde, on Tuesday the reste of my lords cownsell & also Sir Ihon Savadge, at nyghte a play was had in the halle & the same nyght my Lord strandge came home, on wednesdaye mr fletewod pretched, & the same daye yonge mr halsall & his wiffe came on thursedaye mr Irelande of the hutte, on frydaye Sir Ihon savadge departed & the same daie mr hesketh mr anderton & mr asheton came & also my lord bushoppe & sir Ihon byron

This tells us that ‘a play was had in the halle’ on New Years Eve, on the very same night ‘Lord strandge came home.’ When Four days later Thomas Hesketh also arrives at Lathom, we get the idea that Shakespeare was also in the vicinity. The play would have been performed in the Derby’s private theatre at Knowsley, which survived until 1902 as ‘Flatiron House.’ It had been built on the waste by Richard Harrington, a tennant of Prescot Hall, of which place Richard Wilson writes, ‘The Elizabethan playhouse at Knowsley, near Liverpool, remains one of the dark secrets of Shakesperian England. Very few commentators are aware of even the existence of this theatre, built by the Stewards of Henry Stanley, Earl of Derby, on the site of his cockpit, some time in the 1580s.’ 

Other visitors that Christmas include some of the most important men in the north of England, such as the Bishop of Chester, William Chanderton & Sir John Byron, an ancestor of the poet Lord Byron.  It is clear that they came to see a play, for the next entry in the household book reads; 

5th January to 10th January

sondaye mr caldwell pretched, & that nyght plaiers plaied, mondaye my Lord bushop pretched, & the same daye mr trafforth mr Edward stanley, mr mydleton of Leighton came on Tuesdaye Sir Richard shirbon mr stewarde my Lord bushoppe Sir Ihon byron & many others departed, wednesdaye my lord removed to new parke, on frydaye mr norres & mr tarbocke & mr Tildesley came & went

The key information here is that a second play was performed on the evening of 5th January –  a time known to the Church of England as ‘Twelfth Night.’ A similar timed performance was played at court & recorded as, ‘1583. Jan. 5. A mask of iiadies on Twelfth Eve.’

Looking at the Shakespearean ouevre, it makes sense that his early-feeling Twelfth Night was played on this occasion. Samuel Pepys recorded on January 6th, 1662; ‘Dinner to the Duke’s house, & there saw ‘Twelfth-Night’ acted well, though it be but a silly play, & not related at all to the name or day.’ There is another ‘lost play of Shakespeare’s, whose nsole mention comes in the 1598 Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, by Francis Meres. The passage basically tells us what Shakespeare had produced by that time;

As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare, witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece his sugared Sonnets among his private friends…. As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latins, so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage…. for Comedy, witness his Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love Labours Lost, his Love Labours Won, his Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his Merchant of Venice; for Tragedy his Richard the 2, Richard the 3, Henry the 4, King John, Titus Andronicus, and Romeo and Juliet.

The presence of Loves Labour Lost right next to Loves Labours Won suggest that they were originally played in sequence, which fits in perfectly with the festivities at Knowsley. Loves Labours Lost would have been performed at Christmas, with Love’s Labours Won/Twelfth Night being performed on the evening of January 5th.  Stylistically & linguistically, the frantic energetic comedy of Love’s Labours Won/Twelfth Night resembles the Comedy of Errors, which we have dated to 1588. Twelfth night is also full of sexually unusual pairings, a feast of homerotic feelings erupting from its chief author & its muse, who seem mirrored in the absolute bonding between Antonio & Sebastian. There are many subtextual echoes of the sonnets in Twelfth Night, especially in its handling of the humiliation of rejected love. Interestingly, the romantic wool seems to have fallen from Antonio’s eyes, whose god seems now more of a ‘vile idol.’ There is also an echo of the sonnets’ menage a Trois in the Orsino, his boy & his lady triangle.

Sebastian & Antonio
Sebastian & Antonio

As for Loves Labours Lost, ‘it abounds in jokes for the elect,’ writes Alfred Harbage,’ were you not numbered among them you laughed, for safety, in the likeliest places. A year or two later the elect themselves might be hard put to it to remember what the joke was…. it’s a time-sensitive play for a very specific and select audience. Once we figure out who that audience is, we’ll know when the play was first written.’  When we observe tthere are a number of nods to the Stanleys throughout the play, surely we can answer Mr Harbage’s question. The play contains, for example, several references to the eagle; an important Stanley symbol as found on the family crest to the Eagle Tower at Latham.

What peremptory eagle-sighted eye
Dares looke upon the heaven of her brow
That is not blinded by her majestie

Earl Henry would loved to have heard about his beloved Navarre, the play’s setting, while Ferdinando would have been amused by his name being used as the main character. The Stanley household would have noticed that Malvolio was based upon steward, William Farrington. The play also contains a masque – the Nine Worthies – identical to the one performed annually at nearby Chester. This gives us a firm link to William Stanley, whose tutor, Richard Lloyd, wrote, ‘A brief discourse of the most renowned acts and right valiant conquests of those puissant Princes called the Nine Worthies.’ Shakespeare must have seen Lloyd’s mask at some point in order to import the songs into his own play.

There is an extremely famous & charming sonnet-reading scene, which shows how much the art form was on Shakespeare’s mind at the time. Examples include;

So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not
To those fresh morning drops upon the rose,
As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote
The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows:
Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright
Through the transparent bosom of the deep,
As doth thy face through tears of mine give light;
Thou shinest in every tear that I do weep:
No drop but as a coach doth carry thee;
So ridest thou triumphing in my woe.
Do but behold the tears that swell in me,
And they thy glory through my grief will show:
But do not love thyself; then thou wilt keep
My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.

Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,
‘Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,
Persuade my heart to this false perjury?
Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.
A woman I forswore; but I will prove,
Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee:
My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;
Thy grace being gain’d cures all disgrace in me.
Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is:
Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine,
Exhalest this vapour-vow; in thee it is:
If broken then, it is no fault of mine:
If by me broke, what fool is not so wise
To lose an oath to win a paradise?

The composition of LLL would have taken place not long after Shakespeare had experienced the turmoil of his Turkish menage a trois as depicted in his sonnets. This explains how the Dark Lady of the sonnets found her way into LLL, when the beauties of a certain sable-skinned lady called ‘Rosaline’ are described.

FERDINAND – By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.
BIRON – Is ebony like her? O wood divine!
A wife of such wood were felicity.
O, who can give an oath? where is a book?
That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack,
If that she learn not of her eye to look:
No face is fair that is not full so black.
FERDINAND – O paradox! Black is the badge of hell,
The hue of dungeons and the suit of night;
And beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well.
BIRON – Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.
O, if in black my lady’s brows be deck’d,
It mourns that painting and usurping hair
Should ravish doters with a false aspect;
And therefore is she born to make black fair.
Her favour turns the fashion of the days,
For native blood is counted painting now;
And therefore red, that would avoid dispraise,
Paints itself black, to imitate her brow.
DUMAIN – To look like her are chimney-sweepers black.
LONGAVILLE – And since her time are colliers counted bright.
FERDINAND – And Ethiopes of their sweet complexion crack.

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1589
SPRING
Shakespeare joins the Queen’s Players

The parallels between Shakespeare’s plays & the Queen’s plays,’ writes Terence G Schoone-Jongen, ‘are substantial & intricate,’ & that Shakespeare was a member of the Queen’s Players seems likely. A number of their recorded plays were rewritten by Shakespeare, with lines & phrases popping all across the his extensive ouvre. Where the Queen’s Players produced & acted in Richard III & King Leir, so Shakespeare wrote a version of Richard III & the slightly differently spelt King Lear. Where The Two Gentlemen of Verona shares much with the Queen’s Players’ Felix & Philomena, so the playlet of the mechanicals in Act V of A Midsummer Night’s Dream bears a strong resemblance to the Players’ Clyomon and Clamydes. Likewise, while The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth forms the entire foundation for the material of 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V; their Troublesome Reign of King John is simply a redaction of Shakespeare’s King John. So much so, that in the 1611 quarto printing of the Troublesome Reign, the authorship was assigned to ‘W. Sh’ which was elongated in the 1622 printing into ‘W. Shakespeare.

Among the many similarities which have been observ’d, Launce’s rebuking of his dog, Crab, in Two Gentlemen, finds a precedent in Sir Clyomon & Sir Clamydes. Regarding the two Leirs, Sir Walter Greg suggested that, ‘ideas, phrases, cadences from the old play still floated in his memory below the level of conscious thought, &… now & again one or another helped to fashion the words that flowed from his pen.’ Elsewhere, Brian Walsh remarks on Shakespeare’s acute familiarity with the ‘recitation of genealogy from plays in the Queen’s Men repertory,’ & also observes how Shakespeare’s King John keeps the line, ‘For that my grandsire was an Englishman,’ & the Hamlets share, ‘the screeking Raven sits croking for revenge.’ We have also seen how Richard Tarleton died in September 1588, a West Midlands lad just like Shakespeare, he could well be creoshisped into the court jester Yorrick in Hamlet, to whose skull is spoken the the famous line, ‘alas poor Yorick, I knew him so well.

1589
SUMMER
Shakespeare gets involved with the Blackfriars Theatre

Blackfriars2

All his life Shakespeare would be involved in all aspects of the stage, taking part shares in theatres, writing the bloody plays, & even acting them. He was Mr. Theatre. His first venture into the financial side of things was in 1589, when he took a share in the Blackfriars Theatre. Evidence came through a manuscript which passed into the hands of Lord Ellesmere, then attorney-general, turning up in the 1840s at Bridgewater House. The manuscript reveals how Shakespeare’s name stands twelfth in the enumeration of the members of the company;

These are to certifie your right Honble Lordships, that her majesty’s poore playeres, James Burbadge, Richard Burbadge, John Laneham, Thomas Greene, Robert Wilson, John Taylor, Anth. Wadeson, Thomas Pope, George Peele, Augustine Phillipps, Nicholas Towley, William Shakespeare, William Kempe, William Johnson, Baptiste Goodale, & Robert Armyn, being all of them sharers in the black Fryers playehouse, have never given cause of displeasure, in that they have brought into their playes maters of state & Religion, unfitt to be handled by them, or to be presentved before lewde spectators: neither hath anie complaynte in that kinde ever bene preferrd against them, or anie of them. Wherefore, they trust most humblie in your Lordships consideration of their former good behaviour, being at all tymes readie, & willing, to yeelde obedience to any command whatsoever your Lordships in your wisdome may thinke in such case meete, &c.

1589
SUMMER
Shakespeare reads out Venus & Adonis

One hot summer’s day in London 1589, perhaps on the lawn of Fisher’s Folly, Shakespeare was reading Venus & Adonis to a select crowd. He would have turned 25 – a fun-loving age if ever there was one – & drunken evenings filled with the early stanzas of Shakespeare’s erotic masterpiece would have been great fun to have attended. One man that did hear the poem was Thomas Lodge, whose 1589 poem ‘Scillaes Metamorphosis,’ has many captivating echoes of V&A. Lodge also spent time in the Earl of Derby’s household in the same decade, which ensures his admission into the private circle about Stanley & Shakespeare. As for his ‘Scillaes Metamorphosis, Shakespeare’s words are taken almost wholesale;

But like a stormy day, now wind, now rain,
Sighs dry her cheeks V&A

And when my tears had ceas’d their stormy shower
He dried my cheeks Lodge

Sometimes she shakes her head, and then his hand,
Sometime her arms infold him like a band  V&A

Some chafe his temples with their lovely hands,
Some weep, some wake, some curse affection’s bands Lodge

Lodge’s poem uses the same 6-lined stanza & rhyme scheme of Venus & Adonis, & even pays tribute to Shakespeare’s master-class with the following stanzas;

He that hath seen the sweet Arcadian boy
Wiping the purple from his forced wound,
His pretty tears betokening his annoy,
His sighs, his cries, his falling on the ground,
The echoes ringing from the rocks his fall,
The trees with tears reporting of his thrall:

And Venus starting at her love-mate’s cry,
Forcing her birds to haste her chariot on;
And full of grief at last with piteous eye
Seeing where all pale with death he lay alone,
Whose beauty quail’d, as wont the lilies droop
When wasteful winter winds do make them stoop:

Her dainty hand address’d to daw her dear,
Her roseal lip allied to his pale cheek,
Her sighs, and then her looks and heavy cheer,
Her bitter threats, and then her passions meek;
How on his senseless corpse she lay a-crying,
As if the boy were then but new a-dying.

1589
AUGUST-SEPTEMBER
Shakespeare tours with the Queen’s Players

Richard Tarleton
Richard Tarleton

Since their formation in 1583, the Queen’s Players had been the leading troupe of actors in the land, travelling widely, & also performing at court over the prestigious festive season. One of its principle members was the not physically attractive, yet highly acclaimed comic actor, Richard Tarelton. After his death in Shoreditch in September 1588, the company was a man down, which at some point in the coming months would be filled by William Shakespeare. Coincidence or not, a certain trustee of Tarleton’s will, William Johnson, would one day become a trustee on Shakespeare’s purchase of a house in Blackfriars.

Shakespeare joined the Queen’s Players at a time when they sometimes divided into sub-troupes. ‘By 1589,’ writes Terence G Schoone-Jongen, ‘each branch – one apparently led by John & Laurence Dutton, the other by John Laneham – was sometimes identified by its leader as well as patron. Initially, the divided branches may have been a touring practice.’ An entry in the Ancient Treasury Book of Dublin reveals that in 1589, four pounds was paid to troupes called The Queen’s Players and The Queen and Earl of Essex Players ‘for showing their sports.’ These two troupes then travel to Knowsley, where the Queen’s Men performed in the evening of 6th Sept. and in the afternoon of 7th Sept., and then Essex’s players performed in the evening of 7th Sept.

1589
SEPTEMBER
The Queen’s Players are sent to the court of King James

King James VI of Scotland clearly loved the theatre, surrounded himself with artists and musicians, collectively known as the Castalian Band, & composed many quite decent poems of his own. Thus enamour’d with the literary arts, to help celebrate his upcoming marriage to a princess of Denmark called Anna, he asked Queen Elizabeth of England if he could borrow some of her actors. It is her majesty’s granting of her royal cousin’s request that begins Shakespeare’s first visit to Scotland. The statement of the Revels tells us in September 1589 money was paid; ‘ for the furnishing of a mask for six maskers and six torchbearers, and of such persons as were to utter speeches at the shewing of the same maske, sent into Scotland to the King of Scotts mariage, by her Majestieís commanundement.’ We are here going to place William Shakespeare as one of the ‘six maskers,’ ie a member of one of the half-troupes into which the Queen’s Players sometimes divided.

Not long after the request, the governor of Carlisle, Baron Scroop of Bolton, found himself involv’d. This shows that Shakespeare was in Carlisle on September 20th. After the request had reached Knowsley, & after their last performance there on the afternoon of the 7th, it seems that it took the Queen’s Players three days to travel the 100 miles or so between Knowsley & Carlisle by the 10th September.

After my verie hartie comendacions: vpon a letter receyved from Mr. Roger Asheton, signifying vnto me that yt was the kinges earnest desire for to have her Majesties players for to repayer into Scotland to his grace : I dyd furthwith dispatche a servant of my owen unto them wheir they were in the furthest part of Langkeshire, wherevpon they made their returne heather to Carliell, wher they are, and have stayed for the space of ten dayes, whereof I thought good to gyve yow notice in the respect of the great desyre that the king had to have the same Come unto his grace: And withall to praye yow to gyve knowledg therof to his Majestie. So for the present, I bydd yow right hartelie farewell

Carlisle
The xxth of Septemre, 1589
Yowr verie assured loving friend
H Scrope

 

1589
OCTOBER
Shakespeare in Scotland

Because of stormy seas, Princess Anna could not make the treacherous crossing of the North Sea, & James had camped up at Seton Castle to watch the Firth of Forth for any ships from Denmark. A letter from William Asheby to Walsingham. [Sept. 8, 1589) reads;

With the first wind the Queen is expected out of Denmark. It is thought that she embarked about the 2nd instant, but that contrary winds keep the fleet back. Great preparation is made at Leith to receive her, and to lodge her till the solemnity, which shall be twelve days after her arrival. The King is at Seaton till her arrival.

A very impatient & romantically-minded James decided instead to risk the crossing & marry his young bride in Norway instead. With him went Shakespeare, but before they sailed from Leith on October 24th, Shakespeare clearly spent time perusing the Royal Library in Edinburgh. It is that place that the single manuscript copy of William Stewart’s Chronicle of Scotland. 43,000 lines long, and written in the Scottish vernacular, there are positive parrallels with Macbeth, including one of sixty-five lines which elucidates the murderous motives of Macbeth and his wife. Wilson notes that, ‘Boece and Holinshed have nothing corresponding to this, and yet how well it sums up the pity of Macbeth’s fall as Shakespeare represents it.’ Another chronicle-marker is a 26 line tirade by Lady Macbeth as she taunts her husband as being a coward and unmanly and breaking his vow to seek the crown (1.7.36–61). ‘In every case in which Stewart differs from Holinshed,’ says Stopes, ‘Shakespeare follows Stewart.’

images (1)

Other source for Macbeth which Shakespeare studied in the Royal Scottish Library include Andrew Wyntoun’s metrical ‘Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland’ & the ‘Flyting betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart,’ which contains the three wyrd sisters. In this poem, after their cursings come to a close, they begin to speak to each in turn, just as they deliver their prophecies in Macbeth.

The first said, ‘surelie of a shot;’
The second, ‘of a running knot;’
The third, ‘be throwing of the throate,
Like a tyke ouer a tree.

1589
OCTOBER
Shakespeare sails to Norway

That Shakespeare & the Queen’s Players went with James in the large wedding entourage can be discerned through an epigram in John Davies of Hereford’s The Scourge of Folly (c.1610). Dedicated to, ‘our English Terence Mr. Will: Shake-speare,’  it begins;

SOME say good Will (which I, in sport, do sing)
Had’st thou not plaid some Kingly parts in sport,
Thou hadst bin a companion for a King

Scholars have scratched their heads over this passage for centuries, but there is a starkness to it which fits with consummate ease into Shakespeare & the Queen’s Player’s accompanying King James VI to Denmark. On October 30th James landed at Flekkefjord in Norway. He and his entourage then proceeded to Oslo. In the Danish Account of the day, translated by Peter Graves, we may observe how Shakespeare first became acquainted with the figure who be creochisped into ‘Hamlet’ as Guildenstern, the friend of Rosencrantz.

When his majesty arrived, he went to to Old Bishop’s palace to meet her ladyship. this was the order of the procession: first walked two Scottish noblemen (who were his majesty’s heralds) each bearing a white stick as a sign of peace; next came Steen Brahe, Henning Gioye, Axel Gyldenstierne, Hans Pederson, Ove Juel, Captain Noimand & Peter Iversen; then came his majesty between the Scottish earl & another Scottish lord; after them came the king’s courtiers & the Scottish nobility, all with their hats in their hands

As for Rosencrantz, he would have been about somewhere, for among the Danish signatories to the prenuptual demands made by Scottish enjoys on behalf of the king (9th July 1589), we may observe a certain ‘Jørgen Rozenkrantz.’

1589-90
WINTER
Shakespeare visits Kronborg Castle

James and Anne wre married November 23rd, after which most of the entourage returned to Scotland, but others – including Shakespeare – accompanied the royal couple to Kronborg Castle in Denmark from where, wrote James, ‘we are drinking & dryving (killing time) in the auld manner.’ Kronborg is the very place in which Hamlet as we know it was set, yet the original story as given by Saxo Grammaticus, shows how Hamlet’s father was the govenore of Jutland – Kronborg, however, is on Zealand.

download1I am inclined to think that during his visit to Denmark, Shakespeare began to revise his Hamlet, adding genuine on-the-spot location stuff to an earlier verision of the play. Shakespeare’s presence at Kronborg as part of a wandering troupe of players seems to echo out into Hamlet’s famous ‘play-within-the-play.’ In this passage from Hamlet, the traveling players enact a ‘Dumb-Show;’

Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly: the Queen embracing him, and he her. She kneels and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the Kingís ears, and exit. The Queen returns;  finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.

Just as Hamlet’s father, the King in the Dumb-Show, was murdered by having poison administered to his ear, in a similar fashion a French surgeon, Ambrosie Parex, was suspected of killing the French King, Francis II, by giving him an ear infection during the course of treatment. Francis, of course, was the first husband of James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots. It must be noted that while some of the Queen’s Players are in Denmark, the others are performing over the festive season for Queen Elizabeth, where for a performance at Richmond court on the 26th December, they recieved the princely sum of £20.

 

1590
SPRING
Shakespeare returns to Scotland

Later in 1590, James returned to Scotland with his new wife. During the coronation ceremonies, the mask ordered by James the previous September finally got its chance to be aired. Although Shakespeare is not mentioned by name, the clothes He & his five other maskers are, as given in Lansd.MSS 59.

A maske of six coates of purple gold tinsell, garded with purple & black clothe of silver striped. Bases of crimson clothe of gold, with pendants of maled purple silver tinsell. Twoe paire of sleves to the same of red cloth of gold, & four paire of sleves to the same of white clothe of copper, silvered. Six partletts of purplee clothe of silver knotted/ Six hed peces, whereof foure of clothe of gold, knotted, & twoe of purple clothe of gold braunched. Six fethers to the same hed peces. Six mantles, whereof four of oringe clothe of gold braunched, & twoe of purple & white clot of silver braunched. Six vizardes, & siz fawchins guilded.

Six cassocks for torche bearers of damaske; three of yellowe, & three of red, garded with red & yellow damaske counterchaunged. Six paire of hose of damaske; three of yellow, & three of red, garded with red & yellowe damaske counterchaunged. Six hatts of crimson clothe of gold, & six fethers to the same. Six vizardes.

Four heares of silke, & four garlandes of flowers, for the attire of them that are to utter certaine speeches at the shewing of the same maske.

The mask may have been part of the luscious celebrations made during the procession up the royal mile made by the new queen, or perhaps performed at the festivities in Edinburgh castle. That Shakespeare was under the Stuart wing at this time seems to reflect itself into Macbeth again, in particular the 1590 witch trials of Denmark & North Berwick, near Edinburgh. The poor ‘witches’ had been given the blame for the bad weather keeping Anna from James, & also the terrible storms they had to endure on the return voyage. No-one dared to mention it had actually been Winter, & so more than a hundred suspected witches in North Berwick were arrested, and many confessed under torture to having met with the Devil in the church at night, and devoted themselves to doing evil, including poisoning the King and other members of his household, and attempting to sink the King’s ship. In Macbeth, Shakespeare adapted many concepts from the trials, including the rituals confessed by the witches & the borrowing of  quotes from the treaties, such as spells, ‘purposely to be cassin into the sea to raise winds for destruction of ships.’

1590
AUTUMN
Shakespeare in Titchfield

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

According to Aubrey,  Shakespeare had been, ‘in his younger yeares a schoolmaster in the countrey.’ On returning to Britain in 1590, Shakespeare’s ‘younger years’ are running out somewhat, & we only have two more years to go until he is a smash-hot dramatist & the talk of all London. There is a trail that does lead to a possibility of Shakespeare tutoring a younger person, for in 1594 our bard would dedicate venus & Adonis to Henry Wriothesley, the young Earl of Southampton. Nicholas Rowe describes how Shakespeare, ‘had the honour to meet with many great and uncommon marks of favour and friendship from the Earl of Southampton, famous in the histories of that time for his friendship to the unfortunate Earl of Essex.’ Rowe adds;

There is one instance so singular in the magnificence of this patron of Shakespeare’s, that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William D’Avenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted, that my Lord Southampton, at one time, gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to. A bounty very great and very rare at any time, and almost equal to that profuse generosity the present age has shown to French dancers and Italian eunuchs

In 1590 Edmund Spenser had settled for a while near Alton in Hampshire, with Samuel Woodford telling Aubrey how ‘Mr. Spenser lived sometime in these parts, in this delicate sweet air; where he enjoyed his muse, and wrote a good part of his verses.’ Some of these verses were included volume of poems called The Tears of the Muses, registered on the 29th December, 1590. They were dedicated to a relation, Alice Spencer of Althorp, who had married Ferdinando Stanley, with Spenser referring in his dedication to, ‘some private bands of affinity which it hath pleased your ladyship to acknowledge.’ In one of the stanzas we see the return of the very ‘Willy’ who inhabited Spenser’s Calendar.

And he, the man, whom Nature self had mad
To mock herself, and Truth to imitate,
With kindly counter under mimic shade,
Our pleasant Willy, ah! is dead of late:
With whom all joy and jolly merriment
Is also deaded, and in dolour drent.

But that same gentle spirit, from whose pen
Large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow
Scorning the boldness of such base-born men,
Which dare their follies forth so rashly throw;
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell,
Than so himself to mockery to sell

Spenser’s ‘large streams of honey and sweet nectar,’ is reminiscent of Francis Meres own description of Shakespeare, in the Palladis Tamia: Wit’s Treasury, as ‘the witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous & honey-tongued Shakespeare.’ That Shakespeare was dead of late indicates he is between creative periods, while the ‘cell’ mentioned by Spenser points to Shakespeare having taken up the position of tutoring the Earl of Southampton. Fresh from Cambridge, he was spending the summer only twenty five miles away in Titchfield, where his mother, Countess Mary, was in residence in Titchfield House. Plans of 1737 show a large room on the upper level of Titchfield House labelled as ‘Play House Room,’

1591
Shakespeare’s creative output

Despite Spenser assuming Shakespeare was ‘dead of late,’ in reality our bard was working on The Taming of the Shrew, & the cycle of History plays which would soon be making his name & fame. Henry VI had married Margaret Anjou in Titchfield Abbey in 1445, which is of course relevant, while his relationship with the Stanleys cemented the theme of his pro-Tudor dramatical paeans. ‘There is general agreement, writes Lefranc, ‘that Shakespeare, in the historical dramas he devoted to the wars of the Roses, in spite of his usual impartiality, shows himself Lancastrian.‘ Similarily, Honigmann relates that, ‘Shakespeare rearranged history so as to make Stanley’s services to the incoming Tudor dynasty seem more momentous than they really were.’ The Stanleys had helped Henry VII gain victory on the fields of Bosworth back in 1485, earning them great earldom of the north in the process. The first Earl of Derby, Thomas Stanley, was even said to have crowned Henry on the battlefield;

Then therle of Darby without taking more reade, Straighte set the crowne on King Harry the Seaventh his heade The Rawlinson Poet

The coat of arms can be seen on Shakespeare’s monument, above his grave in Holy Trinity Church, and versions of it can be seen on Shakespeare’s Birthplace, above the entrance to the Shakespeare Centre and at Shakespeare's New Place.
The coat of arms can be seen on Shakespeare’s monument, above his grave in Holy Trinity Church, and versions of it can be seen on Shakespeare’s Birthplace, above the entrance to the Shakespeare Centre and at Shakespeare’s New Place.

Shakespeare’s own great-grandfather also fought at Bosworth a fact we know through a record made by Shakespeare’s father when he applied to the College of Heralds for a family coat of arms in 1596. A draft prepared by William Dethick, the garter king-of-arms, declared by ‘credible report’ that John Shakespeare’s, ‘parentes & late antecessors were for their valeant & faithfull service advanced & rewarded by the most prudent prince King Henry the seventh of famous memorie, sythence whiche tyme they have contiewed at those partes in good reputacion & credit.’ One imagines a solid & immutable bond between Shakespeare & the Stanleys, based upon sharing such a seminal event in their ancestral history. As the years progressed, the bard & his sponsors would have conversed upon many occasions; great fuel for the epic Historical Cycle that Shakespeare was destined to write. ‘Richard the Third,’ writes Richard Wilson, ‘is constructed around a series of tributes to the Stanleys that exaggerates their importance in the invasion of 1485 which brought the Tudors to power.’

The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s hilarious man versus woman romcom, with its spectacular ‘Kiss Me Kate’ conclusion, seems to have been written before 1592. In Antony Chute’s poem Beawtie Dishonoured written under the title of Shores Wife (printed 1593) we read ‘He calls his Kate and she must come and kisse him.’ There are, in fact, two versions of the play –Taming of a Shrew & Taming of the Shrew. Of these, the first is set in Greece, & Shakespeare’s version is set in Italy, suggesting a relocation by our Italy-loving bard. In A Shrew there is a stage direction of Enter Simon, Alphonsus. Since the play’s character ‘Simon’ is already on stage, we may presume that Simon was the real name of ‘Alfonsus’, thus making him Simon Jewell of the Queen’s Players who died in August 1592. We may also discern verbal parallels between ‘A Knack to Know a Knave’ and both Shrew plays. A Knack was first performed by Strange’s Men at the Rose on 10 June 1592 and marked ‘ne’ (meaning ‘new’) in Henslowe’s diary.

1592
FEBRUARY
The Battle of Alcazar

In early 1592, it seems that one of the plays he had work’d on with Stanley on the Continental tour was also being prepared for performance. When in North Africa, Shakespeare would have listened to tales of the Battle of Ksar El Kebir, fought in northern Morocco on the 4th of August 1578. Brian Vickers shows the numerous verbal echoes between the co-authored parts of Titus Andronicus & the Battell of Alcazar. Macdonald P Jackson (1996) has highighted quite expertly how the weird formalities of the first Act of Titus are mirrored by those of the Battle of Alcazar, while Vickers highlights the highly similar double consonantal alliteration found in Titus & Alcazar

Honor the spurre that prickes the princely minde
Blacke in his looke, & bloudie in his deeds Titus

Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths
But if you hunt these bear-whelps then beware Alcazar

‘The Battell of Alcazar,’ was more properly titled, as printed in its quarto edition, ‘The Battell of Alcazar, fought in Barbarie, between Sebastian king of Portugal, and Abdelmelec king of Marocco.’ Topical references to the Armada suggest the play was written 1588-1589. One of the characters in the pay is called ‘Muly Molucco,’ & a play going by that very name was first performed by Lord Strange’s Men on the 21 February 1592.

shakespeare

1592
MARCH
A Star is Born

 In the March of 1592, the world at large became witness to Henry VI part 1, performed by Ferdinando Stanley’s Lord Strange’s Men. After an unprecedented six performaces at court over the winter season,  they began playing in the capital’s theatres, including the Rose, which opened on February 19th, 1592. In his diary, the Rose’s theatre manager, Philip Henslowe recorded quite succinctly that on the 3rd March 1592,  he had seen a ‘ne’ play called ‘Harey the vj.’ This was one of only 105 performances of 24 different plays performed by Lord Strange’s Men between 19 February & 22 June 1592. In the August of that year, when in his Pierce Penniless, Thomas Nashe refers to a play he had recently seen which featured a rousing depiction of Lord Talbot, a major character in Henry VI part 1, supporting the hyperfact that ‘Harey the vj’ was indeed Henry VI part 1.

The paying public would have been amazed, & with this play & its prequels/sequels, Shakespeare thrust himself onto the public imagination in much the same way George Lucas did with his Star Wars trilogy. Takings for the run were three pounds, sixteen shillings & eightpence, which equates to 16,444 pennies in the ‘box’ – a clear hit! There was a new kid on the block, with this box-office smash, Shakespeare began his journey to the highest peaks of fame.

1592
SUMMER
Shakespeare attacked by Greene

Shakespeare’s plays were clearly a hit, but true fame is laced with a bit of envious spite, thus enter fellow playwright, Robert Greene. Writing practically on his deathbed in his Groatsworth of Wit, he vilifies Shakespeare as, ‘an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.’  By parodying Shakespeare’s line ‘O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide,’ (Henry VI, part 3), it is clear Greene is alluding to Shakespeare in quite jealous tones. In the same pamphlet, Greene castigates Shakespeare & Thomas Kyd with, ‘it is pity men of such rare wits [Nashe, Marlowe and Peele] should be subject to the pleasures of such rude grooms.’ On their formation in 1583, the Queen’s Players were given the title, ‘grooms of the chamber.’ This provides further eevidence to place Shakespeare with Her Majesty’s players.

The old order was dying – Greene passed away on the 2nd September – & a completely new theater was springing up about the marvellous & remarkable quill of an ‘uneducated’ Warwickshire yeoman. By the end of the year, even Greene’s publisher was climbing aboard the bandwagon, when in a preface to Kind-Harts Dreame by Henry Chettle, we find;

220px-greenes-groats-worthAbout three moneths since died M. Robert Greene, leauing many papers in sundry Booke sellers hands, among other his Groatsworth of wit, in which a letter written to diuers play-makers, is offensively by one or two of them taken, and because on the dead they cannot be auenged, they wilfully forge in their concietes a liuing Author: and after tossing it two and fro, no remedy, but it must light on me. How I haue all the time of my conuersing in printing hindred the bitter inueying against schollers, it hath been very well knowne, and how in that I dealt I can sufficiently prooue. With neither of them that take offence was I acquainted, and with one of them I care not if I neuer be: The other, whome at that time I did not so much spare, as since I wish I had, for that as I haue moderated the heate of liuing writers, and might haue vsde my owne discretion, (especially in such a case) the Author beeing dead, that I did not, I am as very, as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because my selfe haue scene his demeanor no lesse ciuill than he exclent in the qualitie he professes: Besides, diuers of worship haue reported, his vprightnes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writting, that aprooues his Art. For the first, whose learning I reuerence, and at the perusing of Greenes Booke stroke out what then in conscience I thought he in some displeasure writ; or had it beene true, yet to publish it, was intollerable: him I would wish to vse me no worse than I deserue. I had onely in the copy this share, it was il written, as sometime Greenes hand was none of the best, licensd it must be, ere it could bee printed which could neuer be if it might not be read. To be breife I writ it ouer, and as neare as I could, followed the copy, onely in that letter I put something out, but in the whole booke not a worde in, for I protest it was all Greenes, not mine nor Master Nashes, as some unjustly haue affirmed.

It seems that Mister William Shakespeare, gent., had arrived, & at 28 his youth, his true youth, was over.

 

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Next Wednesday, 21/03/18

Chapter 9:  The Badon Babel Tree

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chisp cover

CHISPOLOGY

Chapter 1: The Exodus
Chapter 2: The Aryan Invasion
Chapter 3: The Mahabharata
Chapter 4: Agastya
Chapter 5: The Picts
Chapter 6: Brunanburh
Chapter 7: The Young Shakespeare
Chapter 8: Shakespeare’s Blossom
Chapter 9: The Badon Babel Tree
Chapter 10: The Saxon Advent

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THE CHISPER EFFECT

chisper_effectChapter 1: Chispology 
Chapter 2: Princess Scota
Chapter 3: The Ithica Frage
Chapter 4: The Jesus Jigsaw
Chapter 5: Asvaghosha
Chapter 6: Dux Bellorum
Chapter 7: Dux Pictorum
Chapter 8: The Holy Grail
Chapter 9: The Mandylion
Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Grand Tour
Chapter 11: The Dark Lady
Chapter 12: The Ripper Gang