Prefatory Poem by Leonard Digges

    A single line from Leonard Digges' poem, which appeared in the prefatory material of the First Folio, is the key evidence which links the Author to Stratford---but which Stratford (Stratford-on-Avon or Stratford-sub-Castle) is not known.  It has been argued elsewhere that the "Stratford Moniment" mentioned by Digges is a reference to Wilton House (or the literary legacy of Wilton House) which was situated near Stratford-sub-Castle, or could be a reference to Old Sarum, which is near Wilton House.

    A section of a poem by Samuel Daniel, in dedication to Mary Sidney, is also included, as some key elements of Digges' poem echo the Daniel poem.  There is some suggestion---particularly by the use of the very rare word moniment, which appears in both Jonson's eulogy and Digges' poem---that Jonson may have guided, or interjected lines (particularly the ones related to 'thy Stratford Moniment') into Digges' poem.  If Jonson did this, the lines he added may have keyed-in to another poem.  Jonson  used this same method when he referenced particular words, or name combinations, from a previous poem, and placed them in his eulogy; though he did not mention the poem he was referencing, the close proximity of similar words and names made the reference somewhat obvious. And, as it turns out, every poem Jonson keyed into had some relationship to Mary Sidney.  Likewise, in Digge's poem, there is a key-in to a previous poem by Samuel Daniel, the poem of which was a dedication to Mary Sidney, found in the preface to his play, The Tragedy of Cleopatra (1594).

Leonard Digges' poem, from the First Folio

                 TO THE MEMORIE

          of the deceased Authour Maister
            W. S H A K E S P E A R E.

Shake-speare, at length thy pious fellowes give
The world thy Workes : thy Workes, by which, out-live
Thy Tombe, thy name must when that stone is rent,         > This monument cannot be overthrown,
And Time dissolves thy Stratford Moniment,                > When Wilton lies low, level’d with the ground
Here we alive shall view thee still. This Booke,                > By this (great Lady) thou must then be known
When Brasse and Marble fade, shall make thee looke        > Where, in eternal Brass remains thy Name.
Fresh to all Ages : when Posteritie                               > Unto thy voice Eternity hath given
Shall loath what's new, thinke all is prodegie
That is not Shake-speares; ev’ry Line, each Verse
Here shall revive, redeeme thee from thy Herse.
Nor Fire, nor cankring Age, as Naso said,
Of his, thy wit-fraught Booke shall once invade.
Nor shall I e’re beleeve, or thinke thee dead.
(Though mist) untill our bankrout Stage be sped
(Imposible) with some new straine t’out-do
Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo ;
Or till I heare a Scene more nobly take,
Then when thy half-Sword parlying Romans spake.
Till these, till any of thy Volumes rest
Shall with more fire, more feeling be exprest,
Be sure, our Shake-speare, thou canst never dye,
But crown’d with Lawrell, live eternally.

                                                                        L. Digges.


Samuel Daniel’s Tragedy of Cleopatra (1594)
From the dedication to Mary Sidney

Those Hymns which thou dost consecrate to heaven,
Which Israel’s Singer to his God did frame,
Unto thy voice Eternity hath given,
And makes thee dear to him from whence they came,
In them must rest thy venerable name,
So long as Zion’s God remaineth honoured ;
And till confusion hath all zeal bereaven,
And murdered Faith and Temples ruined.
By this (great Lady) thou must then be known,
When Wilton lies low, level’d with the ground ;
And this is that which thou maist call thine owne,
Which sacrilegious Time cannot confound ;
Here thou surviv’st thy self, here thou art found
Of late succeeding ages, fresh in fame :
This monument cannot be overthrown,
Where, in eternal Brass remains thy Name.

          <<  Back to Jonson's Eulogy