Sonnet 66: LADY ANNE VERE’S SUICIDE NOTE

Sonnet 66, plaintextFig. 1 Sonnet 66, %22The List%22 Fig. 2

   Again, as in the case of Sonnet 1 (also containing the letter-string ANNE), the last five words of the sonnet are meaningful in so far as it also has the ‘signature’ of I leave my love alone, five words totaling a consecutive sequence of 17 letters.  The ‘signature’, in all, consists of a name (ANNE) and a meaningful sentence of 17 letters.

   The 17, of course, refers to her love, Edward de Vere, 17th. Earl of Oxford.

Sonnet 66, Suicial depression, plaintext, side by sideFig. 3

   Suppose (with Sonnet 66 in mind), for example, a person goes to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional, and offers a poem s/he claims reflects an accurate description of how s/he feels, and has been feeling for many weeks. A red flag would be raised. The poem (in this case Sonnet 66) reads like a clinical description of depression. Added to this is the preoccupation of death alluded to in the ‘death wish’ expressed in sentence one of the poem (“Tyr’d with . . . ” all the below), I really just want to die. But if I did die it would mean leaving the one I love most, all alone.” Any competent mental health professional would take the poem to have, not only numerous hallmarks of depression, but also, since suicidal thoughts drive the unfolding of a virtual list of precipitators of depression, the writer would be considered at least a suicide risk, or possibly, upon further interview, a serious one.

   The depression content of Sonnet 66 contains three cardinal categories of suicidal ideation: (1) the strong desire to die (and a description of contributory stressors); (2) signs of hopelessness; and (3) a sense of futility: that is, the perception that nothing can help alleviate the pain, that nothing can be done about it. Of all three, the category of ‘hopelessness’ is the most serious. At present, a pervasive feeling of hopelessness is considered, clinically, to be more serious than the syndrome of depression itself.

   Put another way, suppose someone you know, a relatively well-off person in her or his late twenties, gives you a poem s/he has written. Not long before you get the visit, you are aware the friend’s child died the same day he was born. You know this was stressful, so the impact of what is expressed in poetric terms is all the more amplified. In so many words, the person says: “I’m tired of a lot of things, and just want to die. I’m just not loveable. I can’t find happiness in anything anymore. Things that used to give me a lot of pleasure mean nothing now. I’ve been betrayed, lied about and called foul things. I’ve been shamed and shunned by everyone, I’ve had to lie to keep up appearances, have been told what to do, what to say, what not to say, told to keep my mouth shut and to be deceitful and not tell the truth. To be silent. It seems evil pervades everything. Life is hopeless. I can do nothing to change it no matter what I do. I’d die right now, but I don’t want the one I love to be all alone.” Would you think s/he is merely letting off steam, expressing sad thoughts? Or would you encourage your friend to seek professional health?

   In the context of Anne Cecil Vere’s life circumstances, Sonnet 66 applies to her. She likely had no one to give her emotional support to help her in her despair. Psychiatric medication was out of the question, as was consultation with mental health professionals. Anne died some five years after the death of her only male child (and heir to the House of Vere) with Edward de Vere, had several female children after the death of her only son, and was likely in despair over her self-perception as being worthless as a woman. Wishing for death would be understandable, given her life up to the point of the writing of the sonnet.

Why does Anne die?

Sonnet 66, ANNE DYES, discraced, #1Fig. 4a

Or:  

Sonnet 66, Anne dies forsworn, disgraced, #2

   Fig. 4b

   At the outset of this discussion it must be said that any psychiatric or psychological diagnosis of suicidal depression without person-to-person interview is not possible to make with certainty,, especially at a distance of 425 years. Even enormous stressors, historically verified to have existed for and upon a given person does not always produce either attempted suicide or a completed one, especially in the absence of credidable documentation (behavioral data, and so forth) by others that such an attempt(s) or an actual completion took place. And, in the case of Anne de Vere, there is no such creditable or even spurious documentation to date. However, a list of possible stressors can be seen in the life of Anne Vere; and when written down, does lend the same kind of speculation literary criticism offers. As previously mentioned in the discussion of Sonnet 1, who has not read such speculation in the case of Hamlet (the character of) (Quarto 2, 1604, FF 1623), and not agreed the passage in II. II reflects a depressive state? And, of course, the ciphertext supporting the contention by many that Hamlet is autobiographically Edward de Vere-specific? Perhaps both Sonnet 1 and Sonnet 66 in many ways are templates for the final plaintexts of both Hamlet’s comments to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the “To be or not to be” soliloquy?

   Before we deal with this, however, is there further evidence of Lady Anne’s depression and ruminations about death in her poetry, namely in  some epitaphs attributed to her, published in a volume by the poet John Soowthern (Southern), entitled Pandora (1584), and dedicated to Edward de Vere?

Click HERE to continue with the Poetry of Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford.

III. XXV. MMXIV      

 

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