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Silverfoxesclub-digest
Wednesday, April 25 2001
Volume 01 : Number 218

In this issue:

-"...the love that dare not speak its name."
-Notes on Drayton's "Piers Gaveston" + A Drayton Poem

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From: "Ben Boxer" benboxer@mediaone.net
Subject: "...the love that dare not speak its name."

To Oscar Wilde is often attributed a definition of homosexuality as "the love that dare not speak its name." It was quoted at his trial for homosexual offenses on 30th April, 1895. The line may not be his. Two poems by his young lover, Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, were read aloud at that trial. The following occurs at the end of one of them, a 74-line poem called "Two Loves":

...Sweet youth,
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove
These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth
What is thy name?' He said, 'My name is Love.'
Then straight the first did turn himself to me
And cried, 'He lieth, for his name is Shame,
But I am Love, and I was wont to be
Alone in this fair garden, till he came
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.'
Then sighing said the other, 'Have thy will,
I am the Love that dare not speak its name.'

Belated apologies to you, Bosie, otherwise known as Lord Alfred Douglas, thou Ganymede to Oscar's Jupiter. Has he swept you up on eagle's wings to finish eternity on Olympus? How he loved you! "He is quite like a narcissus - so white and gold...he lies like a hyacinth on the sofa and I worship him," is the way he described you. Like the Aquarian Ganymede, may you shine down on all of us as we enter the Age of Aquarius. Our time has come. Long live the Gay Gene! ------------------------------
From: "Ben Boxer" benboxer@mediaone.net
Subject: Re: Notes on Drayton's "Piers Gaveston" + A Drayton Poem

Ben Boxer wrote (quoting from Michael Drayton's poem, "Piers Gaveston"):
"My smiles were life, and Heaven unto his sight,
All his delight concluding my desire,
From my sweet surme(?), he borrowed all his light....."
====
"George of Boston" wrote:
Oxford English Dictionary: "surmè, -mee, -meh: See Surma. Surma - A black powder...for staining the eyebrows and eyelids."
The first reference reported is from England in 1687. I'm wondering if you, Ben, have found an earlier variant of the same word, except the context does not seem to be right; or alternatively, do you think it might be a misprint of some sort?
====
Ben Boxer replies:
I just don't know. I have puzzled over it endlessly. In modernizing some of the other Elizabethan spellings in the same piece, there is no problem with conventional words. They add a vowel or they delete one here and there, so "sweet" becomes "sweete" for example. The logical adjustment for "surme" is to "surname," but that is also not helpful as surname doesn't seem to match the sentiment expressed. I cannot determine if it's a misprint because a second copy is hard to find, and the poem is fragmented, anyway. Maybe time will tell.
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"George of Boston" wrote:
What is the date of Drayton's poem?
====
Ben Boxer replies:
Undecided. Either 1593 or 1594. He was a leading sonneteer in Elizabethan times and some scholars say Shakespeare cribbed from him, but others say no, that they only used the same poetic form and borrowed themes from the same contemporary and classical sources. Both were writing sonnets at the same time and must surely have been acquainted on both the professional and personal levels. Drayton wrote plays, too, but I think they have been lost.

Drayton wrote some very modern stuff. He had a long career spanning the last years of Elizabeth's reign, all of King "Queen" James', and the first six years of Charles I's. Born in 1563, he was about the same age as Kit Marlowe and Will Shakespeare. I have no doubt they palled around London together. That was quite a generation. He outlived Shakespeare by 15 years, and Marlowe by nearly four decades.

Here is a poem he wrote in 1620:

"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
by Michael Drayton

Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me.
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes --
"Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou mightst him yet recover.

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End of silverfoxesclub-digest V1 #218
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