Six Elegiac Poems, Possibly by Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford

By Ellen Moody

Notes to the reader

Since publishing this essay and these texts, I have wanted to put the original essay as I wrote it on the Net so that people who are interested may read it in the form I wrote it. The revisions were all done without my permission. I have very recently also come across essays which object to my attribution to Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford of these poems. I want to put a rejoinder here.
  1. A note to the reader (written 2002):

    This essay was written in 1987; it was published in English Literary Renaissance, 19 (1989) as "Six Elegiac Poems, Possibly by Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford" (with texts), pp. 152-70. It is one result of my research and study of Renaissance women poets devoted to Englishwomen of the 16th through later 18th century. Most of the research for this was done in the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library. The essay consists of a reprint with annotations of an early modern brief sonnet sequence, a retelling of the history of the publication, and an argument attributing it to Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford . I retell through documents (see endnotes particularly) the life of this unfortunate forgotten woman, her childhoood, the marriage, how she was exploited and hurt, and her early death in childbirth after repeated pregnancies, and how this sonnet sequence in which it is possible that she gave voice to her anguish was silenced. I also describe some of the obstacles confronting women of this or any period who want to speak the truth about their lives somewhere in public.

    This is the original version of the essay sent to English Literary Renaissance. In the published version the wording was changed to make the essay duller, sentences and phrases were omitted, the very last paragraph cut, and the paragraph about Mary Lady Wroth and quotation from her letter placed before the sequence. I did not include in the original essay my thought that Steevens's motive for such an attribution (which so puzzled Park) was to do justice to Anne. If they are only originally her sonnets, unhappily polished by Soowthern, to read them even in their present form returns to her her history. And if it's true that Soowthern thought to steal and print them, I'm glad they were printed though it seems that those closely associated with what had happened (perhaps including Anne) were not.

  2. A note to the reader (written 2006):

    I recently read Stephen May's "The Countess of Oxford's Sonnets: A Caveat," English Language Notes, 3 (1992), 9-19; Rosalind Smith, "The Sonnets of the Countess of Oxford and Elizabeth I: Translations from Desportes," Notes and Queries, New Series, 41 (1994), 446-50, and Louise Schleiner's Tudor and Stuart Women Writers, with verse translations from Latin by Connie McQuillen from Greek by Lynn E. Roller (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1994), "The Sonnets of Anne Cecil, Countess of Oxford, and a Poem by Anne Dacre, Countess of Arundel," pp. 85-96; Patricia Phillippy's Women, Death and Literature in Post-Reformation England (Cambridge UP, 2002), particularly pp. 168-75; and Nona Fienberg's "Mary Wroth's poetics of the self," Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 42:1 (2002): 121-136 (online). I respond to these five texts.

    Stephen May argues that the sonnets are in style so like Soowtherne's throughout the rest of the Pandora, and that his style is so unique, that Soowtherne either wrote the poems himself or so thoroughly transformed them they are now in effect Soowtherne's. May explains the social discrepancy and danger (as I saw it) of a man publishing poems which he attributes to a powerful man's wife and another powerful man's daughter who had just lost a wanted male heir and had been accused of adultery as standard "prosopopeia." This was an understood technique whereby a poet could write in the person of someone else as a form of flattery. He cites Spenser's "Mother Hubberds Tales" and "Dolefull Lay" on the death of Philip Sidney where Spenser attributed the first poem to a mythic figure and the second to Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.

    Though May does use the adjective "impudent" of Soowtherne and admits that without his theory of "prosopoeia" the attribution is bizarre, May too cavalierly ignores the attempt to destroy all the copies. If this was a standard way of flattering, Burleigh, Oxford or Anne (or whoever censored the edition), didn't react in a standard way. More centrally though, I never doubted the poems had been tampered with by Soowrtherne, even a lot. My argument is the content of the poems is superior to the rest of the volume. These 4 sonnets and 2 quatrains depict a moving grief. It would be embarrassing to discuss the content of the poems in the volume not attributed to Anne Cecil or Elizabeth I; they are such wretched absurdity as well as continually filled with a pert arrogance.

    In my view, Rosalind Smith makes a better case against my possible attribution when she demonstrates that whole stanzas and single lines in the poems Soowtherne attributed to Anne Cecil de Vere are translations from Philippe Desportes's French poetry. It has long been known that Pandora is indebted to Ronsard, and the one reason the volume was paid any attention to between the 18th century scholarship and my article is as an example of how Elizabethan poets appropriated French texts. We have no evidence anywhere else that Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford wrote secular poetry.

    I concede that Desportes can write appealling melancholy poetry, and the use of Desportes's content could account for the discrepancy in quality of content between all 7 poems (including the sonnet attributed to Elizabeth) and the rest of Soowtherne's volume. It is possible that Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford knew and read the French poetry of the period. Learned women in this era often turned to French as their learning. However, since Soowtherne used these technique of appropriation, it's far more likely he simply took these lines over.

    Nonetheless, it is to be noted that the poet who wrote the partially translated text in English produces powerful and individual lines; the choice of image strong and appropriate in ways unlike the other poems in the volume. So, for example, "En si piteux estat je despense mon temps,/Me paissant de mon coeur" becomes in the second line in English: "Feeding on my heart;" and for example, among the nontranslated lines there is much power. There is no equivalent in Desportes or Soowtherne's other poems for "silver to distyll fro her eyes:/Then when the droppes of her cheekes raysed Daisyes." Imagery which equates the self with food is found in much writing by women, and women turned to the popular Ovid for authority.

    Another possibility is that Anne wrote the poems in Latin and Soowtherne translated them into his idiom. We have no evidence Anne knew Latin that well and I'm inclined (like Retha Warnke in her Women of the English Renaissance and Reformation [Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1983]) to be sceptical of attributing this sort of erudition to women unless we have texts by them to prove it.

    In the same year as Smith wrote her article, Schleiner in her Tudor and Stuart Women Writers rejected May's argument about "prospopoeia" because as she argues (I think) successfully by reprinting poems and matching them one against the others: 1) the 6 poems attributed to Anne are stylistically distinct from the rest of the poems in Soowtherne's volume; 2) the voice in the 6 poems attributed to Anne is distinctly different -- serious, grave, tragic, and densely allusive; and 3) the 6 poems attributed to Anne show Euphuistic mannerisms and language usage part of the (secretly) Catholic circle of Oxford himself while the poems in the rest of the volume have a very high percentage of gallicisms not present in the 6 poems. Schleiner does not deny that Anne's poems were "tampered" with, but (without knowing of Smith's essay) suggests that if Soowtherne tutored Anne, she would have been influenced by him, and he had a free hand to edit her texts. She analyzes the content of the poems attributed to Anne Cecil as Anne Cecil's and finds that the attitudes of mind, stance, mood, and content in general resembled strongly that of other women writing about grief, motherhood and from the point of view of an exalted Christian goddess (the Virgin Mary). She then situates the poems attributed to Anne in the context of a grieving prayer by another Catholic woman who was part of the same circle as Oxford (as well as a poem by Mary Queen of Scots). She shows strong likeness in attitudes of mind. Finally, Schleiner finds the theory of "prosopoeia" inherently improbable in the situation, and thinks the burden of proof should be on those who would deny the attribution, not those who accept it.

    Both Fienberg in "Mary Wroth's poetics ..." and Phillippy in Women, Death, and Literature take the same tack. They both closely analyze the poems as Anne Cecil's in the context of other women's poetry, attitudes, typical metaphors and genre types. Phillippy is concerned with the literature of mourning, particularly in the case of the death of a child and finds strong parallels in the poetry of Mary Carey and Katherine Phillips; she also finds much merit in Cecil's poems. In Fienberg's reading, imagery, the use of personification (Venus), allusion (Ovid), and tone bring Wroth's poetry close to Cecil's. Kim Walker's Women Writers of the English Renaissance (NY: Twayne, 1996) also devotes space to the "Foure Epytaphes, presumably on the supposition they are by Anne Cecil and situating them in women's literature of the era (I have not yet read this book).

    I obviously favor Schleiner, Phillippy's and Fienberg's point of view. I am sympathetic to the approach of both Schleiner and Phillippy's books: to situate women's poetry in the context of their circles and actual lives, and to bring to readers' attention hitherto unknown women poets and poems by women. Phillippy's slant to concentrate on the literature of death comes from the reality that this was one area women were permitted to express themselves on. It could be that that the lingering remnant of Anne Cecil's point of view which Soowtherne's revisions did not expunge altogether are what account for this l'ecriture-femme -- or that Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford really did express her grief through these poems which Soowtherne then (if one accepts May's analysis) all too thoroughly revised.

I preface the paper with a reproduction of a painting of a woman of Anne Cecil's class -- that of gentlewoman -- from the early Tudor period.]

Cecily Heron, member of Thomas More's household by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543)

I AM writing this essay to make known to other readers what may be the first sonnet sequence in English written by an Englishwoman. It consists of four sonnets and two quatrains in which the supposed poet, Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford (1556-88) mourns the death (in 1583) of her new-born infant son, Lord Bulbecke. Together with a sonnet attributed to Elizabeth I of England in which she mourns the recent death of the Walloon Princess of Espinoy, Philippine-Christine de Lalang, heroine of the 1581 siege of Tournai1, the sequence first appeared in print in Pandoora (1584), a slender book of verse otherwise attributed to John Soowthern and dedicated to the infant's father, Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550-1604)2 . That Soowthern's bad poetry dominates Pandora3, that the attribution to the two women has been questioned, and that all seven elegiac poems are minor in any case, may account for a near silence -- I have found a very few exceptions -- about the attribution of a sonnet cycle to Anne Cecil for 404 years. In this essay I am offering an introduction to the poems which argues for a possible attribution to Anne Cecil, a sketch of the circumstances surrounding the writing of such anguished poetry, and a complete reprint of the sonnet sequence with annotations.

I begin with the sequence as it appears in Pandora. Pandora is an unpaginated book predominantly in Gothic type. It is now extremely rare, and exists in two copies4. The poems attributed to Anne Cecil appear on two leaves in three self-contained pages of text after Soowthern's opening numbered cycle of odes and sonnets to Diana concludes with the word "Finis" in large italic capitals and a colophon. The sequence attributed in the book to the Countess is headed in large Roman type "Four Epytaphs made by the Countes [sic] of Oxenford, after the death of her young Sonne, the Lord Bulbecke, &c." A Roman type heading after four complete sonnets and before two quatrains indicates that the author may have written more sonnets or parts of sonnets: "Others of the fowre last lynes, of other [sic] that she made also." The lines of the quatrains are numbered 11, 12, 13, 14, indicating that these are final quatrains of unfinished sonnets. A colophon appears at the bottom of the third page of text and separates the page from the sonnet attributed to Elizabeth, which is headed in large Roman type "Epitaph, made by the Queenes Maiestie, at the death of the Princesse of Espinoye." This sonnet appears at the top of the second leaf verso and provides a fourth page of text set off from the poetry attributed to Soowthern; that is, after this sonnet the word "Finis" appears in large Roman capitals and there is another colophon5.

The first of the few scholars who have interested themselves in the sonnets attributed to Anne Cecil was George Steevens, one of the early "great Shakespeareans"(Schoenbaum 150)6. Writing as an anonymous reviewer in The European Magazine and London Review in June 1788, Steevens reprinted the whole series and the sonnet attributed to Elizabeth I. He characterizes Soowthern's poetry as inept and inane doggerel, and then goes on to differentiate Soowthern's tone from the tone of the poetry in the seven poems attributed to the two women, and explains Anne Cecil's attempt to write poetry as the result of her relationship with an erudite mother and the influence of a poet-husband (see Appendix A). I know of no other complete reprint in Roman type7. Steevens writes that Anne Cecil ought to be added to the catalogues of the period as a poet; and he points specifically to (because he feels she belongs in) Horace Walpole's A Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with Lists of Their Works (first published April 1758).

Possibly as a consequence of Steevens's article, Horace Walpole "called attention to the Oxford poems when he made his last revision, in 1798, of Royal and Noble Authors" (Parks); however, while Walpole was willing to concede (in Walpole's words) that "the lady aimed at poetry as well as her husband," Walpole also distanced himself from the contemporary attribution and Steevens's judgement that it is accurate by labelling Steevens's "account" "curious" and "strange," and calling the attribution something "for which the editor [Steevens] must be accountable" (see Steevens's interleaved headnotes, BL Pandora).

Then in 1806 in a correction and enlargement of Walpole's volumes, Thomas Park gave Anne Cecil a separate entry as an author in her own right. Park reveals that the anonymous reviewer was Steevens, quotes some notes on the character of Anne Cecil from a manuscript in Latin, agrees that her mother or husband may have led her to attempt poetry, and adds that the "extreme rareness" of Pandora "induced Mr. Steevens to think it had been suppressed immediately on its first appearance; either because it exhibited verses which the Countess never meant for the public or through fear her majesty might have been displeased at the circulation of her poetry." After accepting Steevens's argument as having "much probability," Park reprints the first of the sonnets attributed to Anne Cecil with the caveat that her sonnets resemble those of Soowthern and may have been "tricked out by his incomprehensible pen"8.

One cannot tell from Park's text if Park was influenced by Walpole's distrust of Steevens's account; it also is not clear from Park's language whether he is suggesting that Soowthern may have written the poems himself or that Soowthern may have tampered with some originals by the Countess. It is possible that Soowthern did tamper with some original manuscripts (see Steevens's headnote, BL Pandora, reprinted in Appendix A below); this would explain the similar punctuation throughout the Pandora, and, that within the texts of seven poems whose content is strikingly superior to, and different in essential tone from the rest of the poems in Pandora (again see Appendix A), one finds a direct echo of one image in one of the odes attributed to Soowthern in the first sonnet attributed to the Countess, and another image in one of the sonnets attributed to Soowthern repeated in the sonnet attributed to the Queen9.

Park's work had a direct sequel: in a compilation of selections from the poetry of English women, Specimens of British Poetesses (first printed 1825), Alexander Dyce reprinted the sonnet Park had printed and read enough of Pandora to comment that Park's remark on the resemblance seemed "just"; nonetheless, Dyce accepts both attributions and reprints the first sonnet as Anne's and the sonnet on the death of the French princess as Elizabeth's10.

Thus far in the twentieth century there has been only one discussion of the sonnets attributed to Anne Cecil. In his thorough The Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence in 1938, Lisle Cecil John discussed Pandora, Soowthern, and all of of the seven epitaph-sonnets attributed to the Countess and the Queen. John provides brief biographical comments on Soowthern and Anne Cecil, and he accepts the attributions unreservedly. He praises and reprints the then rare sonnet by Elizabeth, and he describes the texture and tone of Anne Cecil's poems thus:

"Stiff classical allusions provide the texture of the poems. In one Venus mourns for the 'marble' of the mortal child, thinking it is Cupid; the gods, nymphs, fates, and all the muses except Beauty (who has lived and died with him) mourn for the child. Yet these poems, especially that in which the Countess says the gods and destinies might better have taken her twenty years than the two days of her son, have a poignancy unusual in any verse of the century"11.

One cannot resolve all reasonable doubts about the attribution. The punctuation, the rhyme schemes, the meter, and some of the imagery in the seven elegiac sonnets resemble these elements in numbers of Soowthern's poems to Diana. Anne Cecil is not mentioned as a poet in any other contemporary seventeenth, or early eighteenth century document known to me 12. Against this is the startling contrast between the mood and character of the supposed poet in the poems attributed to Soowthern and the mood and character of the poet of the sonnet sequence attributed to the Countess (cf. poems reprinted in Appendix A with poems reprinted below). There is also a strong difference between the mood and character presented in the sonnet sequence and in the single sonnet attributed to Elizabeth. The poems attributed to Anne Cecil are private and turn away from conventional public morality; they are anguished poems of unrelieved despair. The poem attributed to Elizabeth is a public exercise: it is an impersonal and graceful display of courtesy (John 11; Bradner 8) .

Nonetheless, the suspicions and discomfort with the attributions that have been voiced have been offered by much later scholars on stylistic grounds, which alone are a weak basis for argument. Leicester Bradner's recent argument against the attribution to Elizabeth on stylistic grounds is one that fails by inspection13. Like Steevens, John thought the scarcity of Pandora pointed to a determined successful suppression by Elizabeth or Anne; and while there is no evidence of a response to Pandora from either woman, in the absence of any external evidence contradicting the attributions, and in the presence of Anne's biography and the political connections between Elizabeth and the Espinoys14 -- both of which support the attributions -- I will follow the scholars who have gone before me and reprint the now rare sonnet sequence attributed to Anne Cecil as hers.

What is known for certain about Anne Cecil must be culled from documentation and discussion of the lives of her father, mother, and husband15. She was lucky in her parents and unlucky in her husband. She was the eldest and favorite daughter of William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, Elizabeth's chief minister -- he called her "Tannakin -- by his second wife, Mildred Cooke Cecil, one of the learned daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke (one of the early Renaissance Elizabethans, famous at Cambridge for his learning in Greek, tutor to Edward VI and to his own daughters). Aside from the access to great wealth and enlightened learning that were apparently Anne Cecil's, the desire of both parents to see that she fitted in and served the family interests was moderated by an unswervable and active affection for, and protection of, her, on both their parts. For example, after her marriage, their home remained her home, and they brought up and carefully educated her daughters by Oxford and saw that they married well. Anne was taught to spin16 and as an older girl became one of Elizabeth's court ladies, but Burleigh also saw to it that she was tutored with her brothers and knew French, Latin, and (possibly) Italian. In the sonnet sequence attributed to her, the poet assumes the reader knows stores from Homer, commentaries on Virgil, specific passages from Ovid's Metamorphosis, neoplatonic allegories and emblems and some esoteric Greek myth -- this last could have been picked up from Anne's mother or aunts17 whose solid erudition and theological translations, particularly from Greek, as women made them a curiosity and marvel to contemporaries.

Anne's unhappy day was December 19, 1571: it was then that her marriage to Edward was celebrated with great pomp at Westminster Abbey. It is said that the Queen was present, and rejoiced for Burleigh. Burleigh's marriage negotiations over Anne with the Sidneys (in 1569 Anne was briefly bethrothed to Sir Philip) reveal that he failed his daughter because he sought an exalted genealogy for his grandchildren. Anne loved Edward -- he had been Burleigh's ward since age twelve and had grown up partly in the Cecil household. Oxford was intelligent and charming enough to become one of Elizabeth's favorites at court (she granted him an annuity when in 1586 he sold most of his estate to pay his debts); he was a minor poet and patron of poets. But he was also easily roused to anger and violence, unrestrained by moral conventions, unashamedly selfish, and marrying Anne coolly for the money18.

The inward events the sonnets have specific reference to begin with the birth (2 July 1575) of a daughter, Elizabeth, and end with the birth and death (May 1583) of a second child, the son of the sonnets19. It begins with Edward's repudiation of Anne and their new-born daughter, and ends in the aftermath of Anne's grief at the death of an heir, an heir from whose life she might have regained the respect from her society of which her husband had deprived her. After the birth of Elizabeth, Oxford had refused to live or sleep with, to recognize or countenance in court, his wife or child. Public admonitions from Anne's mother could not embarrass him; letters and threats from Burleigh could not move him.

What happened? Among several accounts, that of Elizabeth Jenkins makes the clearest sense of the evidence. When Oxford married Anne Cecil, he expected Burleigh to pay his debts and to save his uncle, Norfolk, from execution. Burleigh did not produce the sums, and he dared not prevent the execution. In revenge Oxford swore he would "ruin the Lord Treasurer's daughter". Jenkins puts it this way: Oxford "had, it seemed, once told his cousin, Lord Henry Howard, that if his wife were pregnant, it would be by some other man." When Anne became pregnant, the cousin began the whispers that Oxford was a cuckold. Even if Oxford confined his agreement to letters of indignant, obfuscating and convoluted argument and ominous public hints, he did validate and confirm the scandal. Anne was Burleigh's "Achilles' heel"; in Jenkins's dramatic phrase, "There, where he had garnered up his heart, ill luck found him out" (Jenkins 191-94).

Remembering Oxford's unconventionality and ruthless amorality, I would add to Jenkins's outline that Oxford was perhaps also simply relieved to find an excuse to free himself of an unprofitable and unwanted responsibility. He frankly admits this when in a letter (dated 27 April 1576) to Burleigh he remarks on Anne's return to her father's house that "I, rid of the cumber thereby, shall remain well eased of many griefs." Oxford meant it when he went on to say "Always I have, and I will still, prefer mine own content before others" (Ward 121-22; Jenkins 194). And while no-one believed that Anne had committed adultery, she lived under the stigma of a ludicrous and unsavoury humiliation for five long years. In letters of eloquent misery, wry irony, and anxious propiation, which she wrote to Oxford in 1581, she reveals that hers had become a tormented existence. Although his letters to her have not survived, he was moved to respond, and from these letters of Anne to him their reconciliation may be traced20.

The subject matter of the sonnets is a mother's depression when the baby to whom she has just given birth dies. Surging from some force within her comes a longing to rest in the grave with her child. If we look at the second tercet of the first sonnet (below), we can hear a venomous bitterness when Venus says of this baby (not her first) "A woman's last chylde is the most beloved." The poet here communicates her sense that a new child replaces the previous at its birth, that renewal of motherhood is experienced as a primary revelation, as motherhood for the first time. Throughout the sequence Anne voices a caustic anger against what the gods have done to her now and up to now, against what life has offered her. There are no allusions to Christian doctrine in the sequence because the poet is aware that what drives her is an impious corrosive violence against her fate and that of her child. The repression of this violence is contorted into a final élan towards death (see 6 below); but is also controlled and counterbalanced by the ornate and overtly lovely metaphors of Sonnets 2 and 4, and the many literary and mythic allusions throughout the sequence, perhaps the most effective of which is that which underlies the dramatic dialogue between the poet and Death (see 5). A woman grieves and the poet in her makes poems from that grief which touch upon the reader's longing to love, to be loved, and to know and to possess beauty, upon his or her usually repressed melancholy at what is the normal fate.

The literary context of the sonnets may be said to comprise the two decades which are now seen as a kind of prelude to the rage for sonnets in the 1590's in England. In the 1570's appeared Edmund Spenser's translations (written 1569?, revised by 1591) of Joachim du Bellay and Francesco Petrarca (via Van der Noodt's Theatre, 1568) and his own Visions of the Worlds Vanitie, highly ornate and emblematic verse whose uncertain metrics were characteristic of much English verse at the time21. One response to the difficulties of achieving a natural speaking voice in metered English verse was George Gascogine's Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse or rhyme in English (printed 1575) which calls attention to the basic learning about the nature of English verse that was going on this period22. The 1580's then saw the experimentations of Sir Philip Sidney and his various poetical associates, and the first flowering of the sonnet cycle in English in Sidney's Astrophel and Stella23.

The sonnet sequence attributed to Anne Cecil suggests the presence of another poet experimenting in the writing of English verse. As it is mostly hendecasyllabic, the sequence also suggests that the poet was familiar with Italian poetry24. The poet's lines move awkwardly and tend to fall into the wrongly-accented anapestic meter that the hendecasyllabic line may become in English. Happily though, and perhaps intendedly, the result is a series of verses with almost uniformly feminine endings, and these 'form the basis of the grave pace and dejected mood of the poems and give them a quiet, falling-away effect. There are also six alexandrines (see below 1, lines 12-14; 5, line 4; 6, lines 2-3) which make us dwell on the speaker's bitterness over the death of the child, on Death's identification of the speaker with him, and on the speaker's ironic parallel of her womb with her baby's grave. The two unfinished sonnets are varied in rhythmic pattern and in them the poet achieves a dramatic speaking voice. They may be read as complete poems which close the cycle appropriately.

The poet's stanzaic patterns are also experimental. The first two sonnets of the sequence are made up of two quatrains, a medial couplet, and a final quatrain; the third sets off an octave of two quatrains against a sestet of two tercets; the fourth repeats the pattern of the third but uses only three rhymes in the tercets; the opening quatrains consistently use four rhymes, and the unfinished sonnets are quatrains rhyming abba. The pattern of two opening quatrains, a medial couplet, and a final quatrain has been shown to occur regularly among the earliest experimental French sonneteers; intertwining tercets are, of course, originally Italian 25. In England the medial couplet may be found in Gascoigne's sonnets; Henry Constable's Diana (1592) has numbers of sonnets which also use a four-rhyme opening octave with varying tercets; Thomas Lodge has some experimental sonnets in Phillis (1593), one of which exactly repeats the rhyme scheme of the first sonnet of the sequence attributed to the Countess26. This pattern has the obvious merit of slight unpredictability and of creating flexible units of equal and secondary importance whch may overlap, reinforce, or be set off against one another27.

The second sonnet of the sequence will illustrate the poet's effective use of her varying patterns. There the medial couplet emphasizes her (poetic) comparison of her age and her son's (she was 27 and he lived but a few hours). The octave breaks into two units in which the poet's embodiments of her child's beauty and her lost youth turn into a stone fountain running with tears. The moist imagery reappears in the closing quatrain where the couplet's hint of the child's grave turns into the reference to "mosse." The development or extension of the sonnet form for four lines after a partial closure in the couplet leaves the reader with a sense of a space lingered in, a sense of the poet's reluctance to leave off, a way of ending peculiarly appropriate to sonnets that fit into the kind of elegy form Celeste Schenck has argued is characteristic of women poets because the poet refuses to accept or to valorize the death of this longed-for baby 28. She will not be separated from him; in her concluding quatrains (5 and 6) there is no transcendence or compensation to be found.

It remains to say that for easy reference I have placed my annotations on the poet's allusions and verbal play directly after each poem29.

Foure Epytaphes, made by the Countes of Oxenford, after the death of her young Sonne, the Lord Bulbecke, &c.

Had with the moorning the Gods left their willes undonea
They had not so soone herited such a soule:
Or if the mouth, tyme did not glotton up all.
Nor I, nor the world, were depriv'd of my Sonne,

Whose brest Venus, with a face dolefull and milde,
Doth washe with golden teares, inveying [sic] the skies
And when the water of the Goddesses eyes,
Makes almost, alive, the Marble, of my Childe:

One byds her leave styll, her dollor so extreme,
Telling her it is not, her young sonne Papheme,
To which she makes aunswer with a voice inflamed
(Feeling therewith her venime, to be more bitter)

As I was of Cupid, even so of it mother
"And a womans last chylde, is the most beloved" b.

Note a: In the fiction of the poem, the baby died in the morning. The Gods, nasty creatures that they are, toyed with him all night and then killed him in the morning. The poet also assumes the compassion associated with mourning. The Gods, warm-hearted creatures that they are, might have been overtaken with mourning and let the child live.

Note b: Venus had many children: Cupid or Papheme was her son by Hermes or Zeus. Bulbecke has become her most recent child.

An other [2].
In dolefull wayes I spend the wealth of my time:
Feeding on my heart, that ever comes agen.
Since the ordinaunce, of the Destin's c, hath ben,
To end of the Saissons, of my yeeres the prime d

With my Sonne, my Gold, my Nightingale, and Rose,
Is gone e: for t'twas in him and no other where:
And well though mine eies run downe like fountaines here f
The stone wil not speak yet, that doth it inclose.

And Destins, and Gods, you might rather have tanne,
My twentie yeeres: then the two daies of my sonne.
And of this world what shall I hope, since I knoe,
That in his respect, it can yeeld but mosse:

Or what should I consume any more in woe,
When Destins, Gods, and worlds, are all in my losse.

Note c: The three Destinies (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atrophos) dominate the sequence. As a triad, they were sometimes identified with the three Charites, and these with the Muses and three Graces (see 4 below for the poet's series of triads).

Note d: The poet identifies with "prime" or Spring in the cycle of the Seasons.

Note e: This is glossed in the left-hand margin of Pandora: "Gold, the best of all mettelles, Nightingale, the sweetest of all byrdes, And Rose the fairest of all flowres. These are visibilia of Primavera30.

Note f: The allusion is to Niobe turned to stone yet ever weeping; Ovid, particularly X, lines 303-1331. The stone refers back to the marble of the child and is also his monument.

An other [3].
The hevens, death, and life?g have conjured my yll:
For death hath take away the breath of my sonne:
The hevens receve, and consent, that he hath donne:h
And my life dooth keepe mee heere against my will.

But if our life be caus'de with moisture and heate,
I care neither for the death, the life, nor skyes:
For I'll sigh him warmth, and weat him with my eies:
(And thus I shall be thought a second Promëti)

And as for life, let it do me all despite:
For if it leave me, I shall goe to my childe:
And it in the hevens, there is all my delyght.
And if I live, my vertue is immortall.

"So that the hevens, death and life, when they doo all
"Their force: by sorrowfull vertue th'are beguild.

Note g: The punctuation is a question mark in both the BL and HL copies. Steevens, The European Magazine, June 1788, p. 390, prints a comma.

Note h: Death enters the sequence as an actor; "he" also refers to the child who "hath donne."

Note I: She uses two of the primary qualities and the myth of man's creation by Prometheus. Prometheus was sometimes associated with losses of "happiness and peace of mind" due to his own gifts and his gifts to others32

An other [4].
Idall, for Adon, nev'r shed so many teares:
Nor Thet', for Pelid: nor Phoebus, for Hyacinthusj
Nor for Atis, the mother of Prophetessesk
At the brute of it, the Aphroditan Queene,
Caused more silver to distyll fro her eyes:
Then when the droppes of her cheeke raysed Daisyesl:
And to die with him, mortall, she would have beene.
The Charits, for it breake their Perug, of golde:

The Muses, and the Nymphes of Cave: I beholde:
All the gods under Olympus are constraint,
On Laches, Clothon, and Atropos to plaine.

And yet beautiesm, for it doth make no complaint:
For it liv'de with him, and died with him againe.

Note j: Three allusions to Ovid, X, 529-739 (Venus with Adonis); XI, 220-66 (Thetis and Peleus); X, 163-220 (Proteus and Hyacinthus). Cf. Ovid's lines on Hyacinthus: "Sweet flower, said Phoebus, blasted in the prime . . . I would, sweet Boy, that I for thee might die/Or die with thee."

Note k: The boy's mother grieves for him more than Cybele grieved for Attis. The "mother of prophetesses" refers to Cybele and her priests in Attica and Crete. The tale is violent and has variants. In one Attis, a Phrygian priest, was castrated and bled to death under a pine consecrated to Frigone who hung herself33.

Note l: Cf. this playful moment with Ovid, X, 714-39. It is a transition from the quatrain's violence to the sestet's restraint.

Note m: See note c above. The poet has three triads. The Muses may be the mountain goddesses of Hesiod. The Charits are the three Graces pictured with their tresses pulled tightly around their heads in a golden skull-cap. The nymphs of the cave may refer to the element of earth as opposed to the nymphs of water, air, and fire. Beauty is Venus from whom we get the triadic qualities of the Graces. The passage may be "unfolded" as a vision which includes hints of the child's burial in the earth (nymphs), the music of the spheres he will hear (the muses), and the grief felt by the Graces who in Renaissance Neoplatonic thought were matched against the Three Fates and lost.34

Others of the fowre last lynes, of other [sic] that she made also [5].
11 My Sonne is gone?n and with it, death end my sorrow,
12 But death makes mee aunswere? Madame, cease these mones:
13 My force is but on bodies of blood and bones:
14 And that of yours, is no more now, but a shadow.

Notes n and o: Both the BL and HL copies of Pandora print question marks at both these points; again, Steevens, The European Magazine, p. 391, at both points prints commas.

An other [6].
11 Amphion's wife was turned to a rocke.p
12 How well I had beene, had I had such adventure,
13 For then I might againe have been the Sepulcure,
14 Of him that I bare in mee, so long ago.

Note p: By labelling Niobe Amphion's wife, the poet recalls the incomparable musician-poet and alludes to Oxford. Amphion's race was extinct in the death of Niobe's children; it was Oxford's heir who died.


In 1584 it was apparently in no-one's interest to have a sonnet cycle based on Anne Cecil's private hell exposed to public view. While there was also a real taboo against the publication of written work by women, it is not clear what part this taboo and what part a general cultural dislike of public exposure of one's private life led to the suppression of the sonnets on the death of Oxford's son. They were probably too candid for manuscript circulation. Elizabethans retreated from public exposure of their private lives: they would not have understood, much less accepted, our assumption that autobiographical content in art is inevitable and (most of the time) respectably interesting.

I conclude this reprint of the first sonnet sequence in English attributed to an Englishwoman with a passage from a letter by a sixteenth-century Englishwoman whom we know wrote a sonnet sequence in English, Mary Sidney Lady Wroth. Her partly autobiographical romance, The Countess of Montgomeries Urania and its appended sonnet sequence, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (both printed 1621), were almost as successfully suppressed as Pandora, and until the eighth decade of this century Lady Wroth was almost as forgotten as Anne Cecil.35 Lady Wroth's letter to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (dated 15 December 1621) documents the response -- one of humiliation and desperation -- of a nearly contemporary woman sonneteer, a member of the same milieu as Anne, and the kinds of steps Lady Wroth was personally prepared to take to hunt out and destroy her work:

I have with all care caused the sale of [Urania] to bee forbidden, and the books left to bee shut up, for those that are abroad, I will likewise doe my best to gett them in, if itt will please your Lordship to procure mee the kings warrant to that effect, without which non will deliver them to mee, besids that your Lordship wilbe plesed to lett mee have that which I sent you, the example of which will without question make the others the willinger to obay . . . what I ame able to doe for the getting in of books (which from the first were solde against my minde I never purposing to have had them published) I will with all care and diligence parforme (Wroth 236).

It is emphatically significant that only two copies of Pandora survive. If the poems were originally Anne's, and however "doctored" for publication by Soowthern, recognized to be by her or about her experience, they would tell the members of this close-knit society what she had been put through for real. Public shame is one motive which sometimes controls people's ruthless behavior, but of course the shame has to come before, not after the fait accompli.

The American University, Washington, D. C.


1The French spelling is Philippine-Chrétienne de Lalaing, princesse d'Épinoy. She belonged to an aristocratic Catholic family at first on the side of the States-General in the Netherland civil wars; by 1581 all but she and her husband, Pierre de Melun, Prince of Espinoy, who headed Orange's forces, had been bribed by Alexandre Farnese, Prince of Parma, who headed the Spanish forces, to side with Philip II.

Elizabeth's sonnet commemorates the Princess's courageous choice to defy Parma at Tournai after Parma had maneuvered her husband into leaving that city and then himself returned and threatened to sack the city and murder everyone in it if they did not yield peacefully. During the siege, she endured the death of a baby son, aided in physical fighting, and publicly scorned Parma in messages like the following: "J'avais cru que vous étiez trop chevaleresque pour adresser des sommations à une femme, mais, bien que le prince d'/Épinoy et ses troupes se trouvent en campagne et loin d'ici, vous rencontrerez chez les défenseurs de Tournai un courage suffisant pour rendre vaine votre lâche enterprise.'' Line 10 of Elizabeth's sonnet alludes to the Princess's death and (perhaps) that of the baby who died during the siege; line 11 puns on the word Tournai: "And as a byrde that hath lost both young and nest, /About the place where it was makes many a tourne.

See The Poems of Queen Elizabeth I, ed., introd. Leicester Bradner (Providence: Brown Univ. Pr., 1964), p. 8; [William Musgrave], The European Magazine and London Review, November 1788, p. 384; Léon van der Essen, Alexandre Farnese, Prince de Parme, Gouverneur Général des Pays Bas, 3 vols. (Bruxelles: Librairie Nationale d I'art et d'histoire, 1934), 2:318-21; 3:9-55; Pieter Geyl, The Revolt of the Netherlands, 1555-1609 (London: Williams and Norgate, 1932), -,op. 74-9, 148-79; Charles Henry Wilson, Queen Elizabeth and the Revolt of the Netherlands (Berkeley: Univ. of Cal. Pr., 1970), pp. 42-87.

2 See B. Ward, The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (London: Murray, 1928); Samuel Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 1970), pp. 597-608.

3 The complete title of the volume is Pandora, The Musyque of the beauties of his Mistresse Diana. See DNB, 18: 688, Sidney Lee, "Southern or Soowthern, John"; see also Joseph Ritson, Bibliographica Poetica: A Catalogue of English Poets of the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Centuries, With a Short Account of Their Works (London, 1802), pp-337-40; J. Payne Collier, A Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books in the English Language, 4 vols. (New York, 1866), 4:75-8; and Anne L. Prescott, French Poets and the English Renaissance (New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr., 1978), pp. 56-7, 104-6, 114-15, 125, 136-38.

4 One copy is now in the British Library; the other is in the Huntington Library. A history of the ownership of both and a dismissal of the (erroneous) belief (see DNB, 18:688) that there may be a third extant copy may be found in John Soowthern, Pandora, introd. George B. Parks (New York: Columbia Univ. Pr., 1938), Facsimile Text Soc. No. 43. Ritson, op. cit., describes the BL copy as imperfect because it lacks the title page of the HL copy. The BL copy also includes sheets of notes inserted by George Steevens (on whom see below) before and between the original leaves of Pandora.

Steevens's headnotes appear to consist of: first one sheet containing his handwritten copy of lines of verse by Michael Drayton on Soowthern and an annotation of a poem by Oxford in The Phoenix Nest signed E. O.; then a copy of Steevens's article and transcription of all seven epitaph-sonnets in The European Magazine and London Review, June 1788, pp. 389-91, on the last page of which is a handwritten copy of a passage from a 16th century Latin chronicle on the princess's family, the Lalaings, and just before which (between pp. 390 and 391) Steevens's handwritten copy of Horace Walpole's note on his article (on which see below) headed as a "contemptuous notice of what is here asserted"; there follows a copy of Musgrave Is article, op. cit., and Steevens's amplification of it as an editor of The London Review to include the presence at Tournai of the princess's powerful brothers (particularly Emmanuel-Philibert, Baron of Montigny) on Parma's side; lastly a long detailed handwritten note in which Steevens states his conviction that Anne Cecil and Elizabeth wrote the epitaph-sonnets and his conjectures on the suppression of Pandora, with an addendum on George Puttenham's remarks (see below) on Soowthern. An N. B. to this last headnote explains the annotations on the interleaved sheets as "confirmations of Master Soowthern's plagiarisms" (of Pierre de Ronsard). The notes record Soowthern's sources in Ronsard's poetry; there are no annotations for the seven epitaph-sonnets; the sheets between these poems are blank.

As Steevens's last headnote is virtually unavailable and is important, and Pandora is so rare, I have reprinted in a separate Appendix (A) most of this headnote and some of Steevens's article, together with Ritson's and Collier's remarks on Soowthern's poems (see also Prescott, p. 56). This headnote was partly reprinted by Thomas Corser in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, or A Bibliographical and Descriptive Catalogue of a Portion of a Collection of Early English Poetry, with Occasional Extracts and Remarks Biographical and Critical, printed by The Cheltam Society: Remains Historical and Literary of.Lancaster and Chester, 108 (1880), 251-53.

5 My copytext is a microfilm of the HL Pandora in the Library of Congress (STC Ref. No. 22928). I have collated the poems attributed to Anne Cecil as they appear in this microfilm with these sonnets as they appear in a microfilm of the BL copy (Cat. C39E35) sent me by the BL, for which I thank them. I have found no textual variants between the two copies of the sonnet sequence. Except that the HL Pandora lacks a title page, there are also no significant differences between the BL and HL copies of Pandora: both contain 29 pages of text; the first 19 pages contain the opening cycle to Diana attributed to Soowthern; the next 4 are the sonnets attributed to Anne Cecil and Elizabeth as I have described them; after the colophon below the sonnet attributed to Elizabeth there is a 1-4 page of text; this and 6 final pages are of miscellaneous verses, all attributed to Soowthern. Both copies print the unnumbered "Sonnet to the Reader" in Roman type on what would be the sixth page of Pandora before the numbered sonnets in Gothic type; the last page of both is in italics and in French. All the poetry in Pandora is over-punctuated to the point where punctuation interferes with comprehension.

6 See also pp. 93-4, 165-66, 287-88.

7 The 1938 Pandora, introd. Parks, is a facsimile of the HL Pandora and is in reduced Gothic type.

8 Horace Walpole, A Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors of England, and, Scotland, and Ireland, with Lists of Their Works, enlarged and continued to the present time by Thomas Park, 5 vols. (London, 1806), 2:27-9. See also 2:116-23 where Park enlarges Walpole Is entry on Oxford.

9 Cf. opening lines of "Elegia 2. 'To the Gods"' attributed to Soowthern (the poem is a translation of Bellay's L'Olive, XXVII, Prescott, pp. 56-7) and lines 5-6 of Sonnet I below; also line 10 (Diana as a "fierce warrier") of the "Sonnet to the Reader" with line I of the sonnet attributed to Elizabeth ("the warrier Phoebus"), Bradner, p. 8. The image of the lady as a warrior is Ronsard's; George Puttenham discusses Soowthern as a translator (of Ronsard and others), The Art of English Poesie (1589), introd. B. Hathaway (1906; rpt. Kent St. Univ. Pr., 1970), pp. 259-60; see also Prescott, p. 115.

10 Alexander Dyce, Specimens of British Poetesses (1825; rpt. London, 1877), pp. 13-14, 20-1.

11 Lisle Cecil John, The Elizabethan Sonnet Sequence (New York: Columbia Univ. Pr., 1938), pp. 10-11, n.68. One should also cite Sidney Lee who under "Soothern," DNB, op. cit., speaks of the sonnet sequence as "four epitaphs which are said to have been written by the Countess and Oxford," and under "Vere, Edward," DNB, 20:228, accepts the attribution: "She was a woman of notable cultivation, and was author of 'Foure epytaphs. Lee mentions the Latin notes about Anne Cecil in the ms. quoted by Park, and documents the births and deaths of her children by Oxford. Collier noted the existence of poems in Pandora attributed to the Countess of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth, but he does not appear to have read them, p. 78.

12 See, e.g., Georae Ballard's documentation for Anne Cecil's mother and aunts, Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain, ed., introd., Ruth Perry (Detroit: Wayne St. Univ. Pr., 1985), pp. 1.88-211. On Anne's maternal relatives see further below.

13 Bradner, pp. xii-xiii, 76. Bradner argues from assumptions about the Queen's character (p. xiii); he also states that "the sonnets [in Pandora) are all in one rhyme scheme: abba/cddc/eef/ggf, 11 imitate French through hendecasyll-bic verse, and are "stilted" by (among other things) the same heavy use of classical mythology. In fact, there are several rhyme scenes in the Pandora sonnets; Soowthern often aims at two quatrains, a couplet, and a quatrain (abba/cddc/ee/fg/gf), but not in all his sonnets. Sonnet I of the sequence attributed to Anne is in Bradner's pattern, but 2 (below) has a final quatrain rhyming fgfg; 3 has tercets rhyming efe/ggf; 4 has tercets rhyming eef/gfg. Also the seven epitaph-sonnets observe an octave/sestet division while Soowthern often has a verse paragraph of 14 lines and breaks the sonnet at irregular places. French poetry relies on decasyllables or alexandrines; it is Italian poetry which uses extra unaccented syllables. Further, some of the lines in the sequence attributed to the Countess are alexandrines; but, in any case, a model proves nothing about authorship. Finally, the use of classical mythology is basic to Elizabethan golden style, which in Pandora all three poets (if there are three) favor.

Soowthern's mythology consists of allusions to, and imitations of Latin, Italian, and French poetry, and he uses his reference to boast his alleged superiority to his predecessrs (see Appendix A), while the mythology of the seven epitaph-sonnets is elliptical, genuinely metaphoric, and in the sequence attributed to Anne Cecil, occasionally erudite; the learned and mythological texture of the seven sonnets is typical of upper-class women Renaissance poet (e.g., in English, Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, and Mary Sidnev Lady Wroth; in Italian Veronica Gàmbara and Vittoria Colonna).

14 See also Essen 2:308-18, Wilson, pp. 62, 68-71, 74-5 on the Duke of Alencon's presence near Tournai; Alencon was courting Elizabeth at the time and the English court milieu was pro-French and not anti-Catholic, see see Elizabeth Jenkins, Elizabeth the Great (New York: Coward-McCann, 1958)), pp. 213-14, 233-50; J. E. Neale, Queen Elizabeth I (1934; rpt,. New York: Anchor,1957), pp. 243-63; J. M. Osborne, Younq Philip Sidney (New Haven: Yale University Pr., 1972), p. 504.

15 My main sources are Ward, Lee, DNB, op. cit, Ballard, Neale, Jenkins, Osborne; also DNB, 3:1309-21, Augustus Jessup, "Cecil Robert," "Cecil, Thomas," "Cecil William": B. Beckingsale, Burghley, Tudor Statesman (New York: St. Martin's Pr., 1967); Pearl Hogrefe, Women of Action in Tudor England and Tudor Women (both Ames: Iowa St. Univ. Pr., 1977); Retha Warnke, Women of the English Renaissance and Reformation (Westport: Greenwood, 1983).

16 See Elizabethan Lyrics, ed. N. Ault (1949; rpt. New York: Capricorn, 1960), pp. 57-8.

17 The aunts, names are Anne Cooke Lady Bacon, Elizabeth Cooke Hoby, Lady Russell, and Katherine Cooke Killigrew. See also Mary Ellen Lamb, ''The Cooke Sisters: Attitudes Toward Women in the Renaissance," Silent But for the Word, ed. M. P. Hannay (Kent St. Univ Pr., 1985), pp. 107-25; Violet Wilson, Society Women of Shakespeare's Time (1924; rpt. London: Kennikat, 1970), pp. 3-40, 223-37.

18 Examples of his violence and scorn for inferiors (and to him Anne was an upstart's daughter) include his murder of one of Burleigh's servants, his near-duel with Sir Philip Sidney, and a bloody duel with one of Elizabeth's Gentleman of the Bedchamber. His long-term liaison with Anne Vavasour is documented by a poetical exchange attributed to Oxford and Anne Vavasour, a letter in 1585 from Thomas Vavasour challenging Oxford (Ward, pp. 228- 29), and in 1591 the birth of an illegitimate son to Anne Vavasour and Oxford's banishment from court (Neale, pp. 340-41).

19 There were three more babies: Bridget, born 6 April 1584; Frances, dead at Edmonton, 12 Sept. 1587; and Susan, born 26 May 1587, on whom see further below. Anne Cecil did not survive Susan's birth. She died of a fever in the Royal Palace of Greenwich eleven days later, 6 June 1587.

20 Ward reprints the relevant letters, pp. 97-8, 106-22, 124-25, 226-27; see also Jenkins, p. 234.

21 Uncertain metrics lie behind a lack of individualized voices in the 1570 and 1580 miscellanies; attribution is generally dificult. Oxford, for example, has been credited with not only Shakespeare's works but with Gascoigne's OneHundred Sundry Floures; see WVard, pp. 130ff., also C. I. Prouty, George Gascoigne: Elizabethan Courtier, Soldier, and Poet (New York: Blom, 1942), pp. 3-5.

22 See The Complete Works of George Gascoigne, ed. J. W. Cunliffe, 2 vols. (1907: rpt. New York: Greenwood, 1969), 1:465-73; Prouty, pp. 123-42.

23 See William Ringler, ed., introd., The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 1967), pp. xxvii-lx; Coburn Freer, Music for a King (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1972), pp. 71-108. One should also mention Thomas Watson's sonnet cycle, Hecatompathica, since it was printed two years before Pandora, was influential, is experimental (the sonnets have 18 lines) and ornate, and is dedicated to Oxford.

24 Prescott suggests that Soowthern's poems represent experiments in classical meter or may be read an unaccented fourteeners, pp. 56-7; but see p. 251n.33.

25 J. Vianey, Le Pétrarchisme en France au XVI siècle (1909; rpt. Geneve: Slatkine, 1969), pp. 99-106; E. H. Wilkins, The Invention of the Sonnet and Other Studies in Italian Literature (Roma: Editizione di Storia e letteratura, 1959), pp. 1-31.

26 Cunlifffe 1:34; for Constable's and Lodge's experiments see Elizabethan Sonnet-Cycles, ed. introd. M. Crow, 4 vols. (1899; rpt. New York: AMS Pr., 1969), 1:60 (Lodge's repeat of the rhyme scheme of the first sonnet), also 25, 29 (12- and 16- lie sonnets); 2:93, 115 (a variation on the two quatrains, medial couplet, and quatrain pattern), 117, 147, 158, 165.

27 See, e.g, Laurence Harvey, The Aesthetics of the Renaissance Love Sonnet (Genève: Droz, 1962), pp. 37-46.

28 C. M. Schenck, "Feminism and Deconstruction: Reconstructing the Elegy," TSWL, 54 (1986), 13-27.

29 I italicize all words in Roman type. I have copied the punctuation and indentation in Pandora.

30 Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), pp. 86-7, and Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (London: Paladin, 1965), Fig. 148.

31 My references are to George Sandys's (printed 1632) Ovid's Metamorphosis, ed., introd. K. Hulley et aliae (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Pr., 1970). Anne Cecil had available Arthur Golding's 1567 fourteeners.

32 Panofsky, Studies, p. 50.

33 Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, 2 vols. (Middlesex: Penguin, 1955), 1:262-63 (from Servius on Virgil's Aeneid), 298, 318.

34 Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (New York: Norton, 1968), pp. 26-35, 248-53, Figs. 61, 70, 72; E. Panofsky, Problems in Titian (New York: New York Univ. Pr., 1969), Figs. 131-32, 142-48; Prescott, pp 38- 49.

35 See The Poems of Ladv Mary Wroth, ed., introd., Josephine Roberts (Baton Rouge: Louisiana St. Univ. Pr., 1982), pp. 33. Lady Wroth and Anne Cecil are also connected via Anne Cecil's last daughter, who had became Lady Susan de Vere Herbert, Countess of Montgomery; in other words, Anne's daughter, Lady Susan, married Philip Herbert, Count of Montgomery, second son of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Lady Wroth's aunt. Lady Susan was also a close friend of Lady Wroth as Lady Wroth dedicated her Urania to Lady Susan. A heritage companion, understanding and shared support is suggested here. See also Poems of Ben Jonson, ed. G. B. Johnston (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1954), pp. 52-3.

Appendix A:
George Steevens's Notes and Article

[Steevens's long headnote in the BL Pandora is as follows:]

The title page, and perhaps a preface, to the following Poems is wanting, but from their author's levity, pertness, unbounded vanity, perpetual introduction of French words and phrases, unadopted by contemporary writers of this country, from his French mode of spelling and sounding English, his proper names with French terminations, and especially his calling Ronsard 'our old Ronsard of France,' his ability to compose stanzas and quodrains in the French language, the epithet rude, which he bestows on us as a people, and his insolent observations at the end of one of his Odes . . . I cannot help supposing this Soothern to have been a native of France, perhaps a refugee, admitted as a secretary, a tutor, or for some other purpose into the family of the Earl of Oxford. Being thus domesticated, he might easily obtain confidential transcripts of the Epitaphs written by the wife of his Patron and Queen Elizabeth. That particular one composed by a British Monarch, on a Princess of his own nation, would naturally have struck his vanity as a performance worth being preserved . . .

The extreme rareness of this collection induces me to think it had been suppressed immediately on its first appearance, either because it exhibited verses which the Countess never meant for the public: or through fear that her Majesty might have been displeased at the circulation of her poetry. She is known indeed to have been once offended on a similar account . . .

[After conjecturing that Oxford might also have suppressed Pandora because he was offended by the "wretched" quality of Soowthern's verse, in the addendum on Puttenham Steevens admits "the conjecture that Soothern was a Frenchman is extremely disputable," and suggests that Soowthern might have cooperated in suppressing Pandora because he was embarrassed by Puttenham's revelations of his "plagiarisms." Steevens omits the possibility that Soowthern might have cooperated because Oxford had been angered by Soowthern's publication of poems by Oxford's wife under her name, which would reveal her anguish to the general public.]

[In The European Magazine and London Review, June 1788, p. 389, Steevens writes:]

What [Soowthern] thought of himself indeed, may be understood from the frequent boasts with which his odes and sonnets are interlarded. A very few specimens of his arrogant pretences to the enjoyment and distribution of fame, will be thought sufficient . . .

------------ Petrarque, a wise Florentine,
Hath turnde his Mistres into a tree of Baye;
And he that soong the eldest daughter of Troye,
In Fraunce hath made of her an astre divine.

And like these knowne men can your Soothern write too,
And, as long as Englyshe lasts, immortall you.
I, the penne of Soothern, will, my fayre Diana,
Make thee immortall, if thou wilt give him favour:

For then hee'll sing Petrark, Tien, Ovid, Ronsar,
And make thee Cassander, Corine, Bathyll, Laura.


But thou for whom I writ so well,
And that I will make eternell;
And thou for whome my holie paines
Dooth chase ignoraunce held so long,
Conjoining, in a vulgar song,
The secretes, both Greekes and Lataines,
Think'st thou it is nothing to have
The penne of Soothern for thy trompet?
Yes, yes, to whome Soothern is Poete,
The honour goes not to the grave.

[Steevens does not follow the indentation of Pandora exactly; in Sonnet 2 (the first poem quoted) he omits a parenthesis around "Petrarque" (line 5); line 6 he substitutes a semi-colon for a period; line 9 he substitutes a comma for a colon, line 12 after immortally he substitutes a comma for a colon; line 13 he substitutes a comma for a colon; the rhyme scheme of the sonnet is typically slightly off: abbc/deed/ff/ghhg; Steevens quotes the epode from Ode 2, in line 1 substitutes a comma for a colon, line 2, a semi-colon for a period, line 3 omits the comma at the end, lines 4 and 5 substitutes commas for colons, line 6 substitutes a comma for a period, line 7, adds aquestionmark at the end. He quotes more to argue that Soowthern is "wholly unpoetical," but the above is characteristic of Soowthern and is sufficient. From Ritson's response to Soowthern's verse I quote: [his] wretched stile . . . ridiculous pedantry, and unnatural conceit, are unexampled . . . [he is throughout an] arrogant and absurd coxcomb," P. 338; Collier quotes different poems (e.g., sonnet 5) to the same effect: "when the author trusts solely to himself he is merely inane, and yet ridiculously and despicably self-satisfied,llan empty "self-deluded dabbler," pp. 76-7; see further endnote 11 above.]

[Steevens concludes his article, pp. 389-91, with the seven epitaph-sonnets and the comments on the Countess described in my text, and remarks quietly that "[I] trust that I have [hereby] ascertained her [Anne Cecil Is] right to a place in some future edition of Mr. Walpole's . . . work."]

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 9 January 2003