Shakespeare--Who Was He? The Oxford Challenge to the Bard of Avon

By Richard F. Whalen | Go to book overview

Appendix D
The Benezet Test

The following seventy-one lines were selected by Professor Louis P. Benezet* from Shakespeare's writings and from Oxford's poetry, which was written in his early years. No passage is longer than eight lines, none shorter than four. Six are from the works attributed to one author; seven from the other. Judging solely by the intrinsic literary quality and characteristics, and without referring to any texts, who wrote which passages? Although the test does not prove that Oxford wrote Shakespeare, it does show that in his early years he wrote poetry that was remarkably similar in voice and generally of the same quality.

If care or skill could conquer vain desire,
Or reason's reins my strong affections stay:
There should my sighs to quiet breast retire,
And shun such sights as secret thoughts betray;
Uncomely love which now lurks in my breast
Should cease, my grief by wisdom's power oppressed.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,

-143-

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