"Venus and Adonis"


In the dedication to the Earl of Southampton of the poem Venus and Adonis, published in 1593, "Shakespeare" calls this poem "the first heir of my invention." Invention in those days meant "imagination," and was applied to poetry and the drama. If what "Shakespeare" says is true, and this poem was his first poetical compostion, it must have antedated every Shakespearean play, and it follows that, as "Shakespeare" plays had been on the boards in London before Will Shaksper arrived in London, Shaksper if he had been the author must have written Venus and Adonis when he was still in Stratford. This is obviously an impossibility, for it contains the purest, most elegant and scholarly English, with not a trace of patois in it. The education (if any) that Shaksper had managed to obtain at Stratford would, under no circumstances, have been sufficient to enable him to compose this poem, which bears every mark of collegiate elegance and culture.

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