Sonnet 21: “My verse, a pen name, a painted pen name.”

[Please read “Pen Names and Shaddowes” first.]

” . . . a painted . . . verse . . . “

 Greek Tragedy, Comedy masks, Menander, JPEG

                            Fig. 1:  Μένανδρος, Menandros; ca. 341/42– ca. 290 BCE 

Sonnet 21 Plaintext, Painted verse, JPEG

                                                                            Fig. 2                 Jan. 13, 2013  

   Over the past several years I have come across several words in hundreds of Shakespeare plaintexts (plays and sonnets) that are possibly “code” for the term we know as “pen name”.  These words and phrases accompany letter-strings that directly hint or strongly imply the author of the plaintext in question is using a pseudonym.  For example:  “stretched mitre (meter)”; “code”; “coder”; “new found methods”; devises”; “compounds strange”; “painted verse”; “hand name”; “weed name”; “vaile hand”; and one example using both “pen” and “painted” in the same cluster to describe the verse being written.

The most intriguing for me was finding “pen” and “name” sharing an “e” in the same cluster:

Sonnet 21, Both--Pen, Painted name  JPEG

                                        Fig.3                                                            Fig. 4

   However, the Oxford English Dictionary lists ‘pen name’ as  a combined name, spelled with a hyphen between the two words, producing the single word, “pen-name”.  The O.E.D. spelling and reference to a pseudonym is not given an etymological or century first-use date, but rather is included in a paragraph following the definition proper.

   However unlikely it may be, perhaps not every word in the English lexicon has been usage-wise traced to first-use, particularly if the word is a combination or hyphenated one.  At the same time, the “pen” letter-string in the cluster above (Fig. 3) can still be seen as as either a serendipitous occurrence, an anachronism; or the second array (Fig. 4), highlighting the horizontal word “painted”, is a more correct or accurate version, where the “e” is not intended to produce a downward-reading “pen”, and therefore does not include the “e” in “verse”.  Thus, the original writing and reading of the words in the cluster was perhaps intended to state:  “My verse, a painted pen name”.

   Or perhaps neither.  As it is when one is interpreting any metaphor or symbol, the valid reading of a word or combinations of words can often be little more than a cherry-picked interpretation meant to fit the interpreter’s point of view (or projection, as the case may be).

   The main questions, however, are:  (1)  did Edward de Vere write Sonnet 21, and (2) are there any  ciphertext letterstring clusters within the Sonnet 21 plaintext that support his authorship?  






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