Shakespeare, we must be silent in thy praise! (Anonymous, 1640)

Some anti-Stratfordians (those who don’t believe that the Stratford man was Shakespeare) quote this line from an anonymous 1640 poem entitled ‘Wit’s Recreations’ as evidence that there was a conspiracy of silence around the identity of the author. Maybe there was. But read on…

Shakespeare, we must be silent in thy praise!

‘Cause our encomions (sic) will but blast thy bayes

Which envy could not.

It’s a standard trope: something like, “Our encomiums kill the laurels with which you are crowned, i.e. words cannot describe your genius, and so our praise diminishes you, more than detraction ever could. So all we can do is marvel wordlessly at your brilliance”.

Nothing to do with keeping the secret of who Shakespeare really was.

Context is all.


Author: Paul Dunbar

I have worked in international schools for the past 15 years, teaching English Literature and Theory of Knowledge in Amsterdam, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. I'm also a musician, and a bit of a writer. Since 2001 I have come to question literally everything, the default position for an uncrippled epistemologist.

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