On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, he died in April 1616
|On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, he died in April 1616 (before 1623)
|Originally printed as the work of John Donne in 1633, most manuscripts attribute it to Basse, which is the generally accepted attribution. A version existed before 1623, as it is alluded to by Ben Jonson in his dedicatory poem "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us" published in the First Folio of Shakespeare works in that year. The earliest published version is a sonnet (omitting the couplet beginning "Thy unmolested peace"). The longer version deviates from the standard 14 line sonnet format. It may be that two different final couplets have both been included, since there is an apparent inconsistency between the vision of an "unshared cave" and of later poets "hereafter" to lie beside him.|
Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh
To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont lie
A little nearer Spenser to make room
For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb.
To lodge all four in one bed make a shift
Until Doomsday, for hardly will a fifth
Betwixt this day and that by fate be slain
For whom your curtains may be drawn again.
If your precedency in death doth bar
A fourth place in your sacred sepulchre,
Under this carved marble of thine own
Sleep rare tragedian Shakespeare, sleep alone,
Thy unmolested peace, unshared cave,
Possess as lord not tenant of thy grave,
That unto us and others it may be
Honour hereafter to be laid by thee.
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
- Centerwall, Brandon, "Who Wrote Basse's Elegy on Shakespeare", Shakespeare Survey, 59, 2006, pp.267-284.