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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

A new poem by William Shakespeare

By April 23, 2007

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Just in time for his birthday, today, we have the publication of a new poem by William Shakespeare! It’s only 18 lines, a throw-away epilogue written for a command performance of one of his plays, probably As You Like It, in 1599 for Queen Elizabeth I. The text of “To the Queen by the Players” (which appears in the Daily Mail article linked below) was discovered 30 years ago by American Shakespearean scholars William Ringler and Steven May, but it was not included in the Oxford complete edition of Shakespeare’s works published in 1986. It is being printed for the first time in the new Complete Works of Shakespeare just published by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

William Shakespeare: Complete Works
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen
from the Royal Shakespeare Company, “the first authoritative, modernized and corrected edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio in three centuries”
(Modern Library, Random House, April 2007)

from CBC Canada:
Lost Shakespeare poem published for first time
from the Daily Mail (UK):
To my Queen...the Shakespeare poem on the back of an envelope,” by David Wilkes
Jonathan Bate, editor of the new RSC edition of Shakespeare, said of the new poem, “When plays were put on at court, it was a requirement that there should be a prologue and an epilogue tailor-made for the occasion. Shakespeare was probably in the habit of dashing some lines down on the back of an envelope and then chucking them away. By chance, this one example has survived.... it’s a precious addition to the canon.”

Shakespeare poems collected here:
In Poems for Spring, Spring Song from Act V, Scene 2 of Love’s Labors Lost (1598)
In Love Poems, Sonnet 18 - “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1609)
In Love Poems, Sonnet 116 - “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” (1609)
In Halloween Poems, The Witches’ Spell from Act IV, Scene 1 of Macbeth (1606)
In Poems of War, St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V (1599)
In Winter Poems, Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind from Act II, Scene 7 of As You Like It (1600)
For more information and the complete text of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets and poems, visit Amanda Mabillard’s excellent About Shakespeare site.

Other lost poems recently rediscovered:
A Robert Frost poem handwritten & hidden away: “War Thoughts at Home” (September 2006)
An ancient poem carved in stone (September 2006)
A new Sappho poem comes to light (June 2005)
“And Yet”... A new Philip Larkin poem comes to light after a half century lost in the library (August 2004)

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