Leonard Digges is perhaps best known for the commendatory poem he composed for the 1623 First Folio that proclaims that Shakespeare's works will outlive the time-bound "Stratford Moniment
" and make Shakespeare "looke / Fresh to all Ages." (1) In a longer and lesser-known poem about Shakespeare's dramatic works that was likely intended for the Second Folio but appeared posthumously in print as a commendatory poem to John Benson's 1640 edition of Shakespeare's poems, Digges praises these same works of Shakespeare as those of a true original:
Jonson's term "sweet swan of Avon" and the reference by Leonard Digges, another folio panegyrist, to "Stratford moniment
" are superficial and impersonal, and there is more than one place called Stratford or Avon.
Song made in lieu of many ornaments, With which my love should duly have bene dect, Which cutting off through hasty accidents, Ye would not stay your dew time to expect, But promist both to recompens, Be unto her a goodly ornament, And for short time an endlesse moniment
. (427-33) This poem, like all human acts and words, can offer only imperfect, temporary expression of good will, ornament rather than substance.
But wicked Time that all good thoughts doth waste, And workes of noblest wits to nought out weare, That famous moniment
hath quite defaste, And robd the world of threasure endlesse deare, The which mote haue enriched all vs heare.
In the first chapter, entitled '"Thou art a Moniment
, without a tombe": Affiliation and Memorialization in Margaret Cavendish's Playes and Plays, Never before Printed' (7-28), Shannon Miller states that in the middle years of the seventeenth century playwrights and their reputations were constantly under the public eye.
Shannon Miller's "'Thou art a Moniment
, without a tombe': Affiliation and Memorialization in Margaret Cavendish's Playes and Plays, Never before Printed" argues that Cavendish's prefaces to her plays associate them with Shakespeare's by distinguishing them from Ben Jonson's, becoming "an early voice in elevating Shakespeare over Jonson" (9).
Shall be thereof immortal moniment
And tell her prayse to all posterity, That may admire such worlds rare wonderment.
In the Folio, Ben Jonson refers to the author as "Sweet Swan of Avon," and Leonard Digges alludes to "thy Stratford Moniment
." There is indeed a monument in the Stratford church.
Since Sidney dealt with `such writings as come under the banner of unresistable love' -- caught up in `swelling phrases, which hang together like a man which once told mee the winde was at North West, and by South, because he would be sure to name windes enowe' -- there has been a suspicion that the mistress was merely the occasion for the art.(3) In Amoretti, for instance, Spenser boasts that `this verse vowd to eternity, / shall be thereof immortall moniment
: / and tell her prayse to all posterity', urging the mistress to
Finally, the theory finds unexpected corroboration in one of Ben Jonson's most famous lines, a line that now takes on a typically Jonsonian double meaning: 'thou art a Moniment
, without a tombe'.
Includes: Katherine Romack and James Fitzmaurice, "Cavendish and Shakespeare, Interconnections"; Shannon Miller, "'Thou art a Moniment
, without a tombe': Affiliation and Memorialization in Margaret Cavendish's Playes and Plays, Never before Printed"; James Fitzmaurice, "Shakespeare, Cavendish, and Reading Aloud in Seventeenth-Century England"; Erna Kelly, "Drama's Olio: A New Way to Serve Old Ingredients in The Religious and The Matrimonial Trouble"; Brandie R.
My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye A little further, to make thee a roome: Thou art a Moniment
without a tomb, And art aliue still, while thy Booke doth hue, And we haue wits to read, and praise to giue ...