Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Passionate Pilgrim XXI


Many people on Twitter today are throwing around this quote, calling it Shakespeare:

He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need:

That does not feel right to me, and it took me awhile to find it.  It is actually, as you may have guessed, from The Passionate Pilgrim:


As it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,
Trees did grow, and plants did spring;
Every thing did banish moan,
Save the nightingale alone:
She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean'd her breast up-till a thorn
And there sung the dolefull'st ditty,
That to hear it was great pity:
'Fie, fie, fie,' now would she cry;
'Tereu, tereu!' by and by;
That to hear her so complain,
Scarce I could from tears refrain;
For her griefs, so lively shown,
Made me think upon mine own.
Ah, thought I, thou mourn'st in vain!
None takes pity on thy pain:
Senseless trees they cannot hear thee;
Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee:
King Pandion he is dead;
All thy friends are lapp'd in lead;
All thy fellow birds do sing,
Careless of thy sorrowing.
Even so, poor bird, like thee,
None alive will pity me.
Whilst as fickle Fortune smiled,
Thou and I were both beguiled.
Every one that flatters thee
Is no friend in misery.
Words are easy, like the wind;
Faithful friends are hard to find:
Every man will be thy friend
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend;
But if store of crowns be scant,
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigal,
Bountiful they will him call,
And with such-like flattering,
'Pity but he were a king;'
If he be addict to vice,
Quickly him they will entice;
If to women he be bent,
They have at commandement:
But if Fortune once do frown,
Then farewell his great renown
They that fawn'd on him before
Use his company no more.
He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need:
If thou sorrow, he will weep;
If thou wake, he cannot sleep;
Thus of every grief in heart
He with thee doth bear a part.
These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.

It still doesn’t feel right to me.  Notice the comment in the link, that Shakespeare is only identified as the author of several of the poems – and 21 is not one of them.  What do you think?  Does this one sound right to you?

I’m intrigued by what Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet has to say on the topic (a blog that takes itself and it’s research very seriously):

The Passionate Pilgrim was first published in 1599, on the sly, as it were, by the disreputable (though later, thanks to his role in producing the First Folio famous) William JaggardThe Passionate Pilgrim is a collection of 20 poems, represented on its title page to be the work of W. Shakespeare.  In fact, only five of the poems are the work of Shakespeare, the first, an early version of sonnet 138 ("When my love swears that she is made of truth"), the second, sonnet 144 ("Two loves I have of comfort and despair"), and the next three lifted from Love's Labour's Lost, written and placed in that play to be intentionally bad sonnets, as Shapiro points out.  The rest of the poems in Pilgrim are by minor Elizabethan authors, except for poem 19 which is a corrupt version of Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd to His Love followed by an answering stanza by Sir Walter Raleigh.

Emphasis mine.  So, most likely not Shakespeare at all?

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