Hiding the Truth

Edward de Vere – Hiding the Truth

Regarding the Act of Treason of 1571,
you have to ask how and why this was done.
The constant problems of a Catholic threat,
Cecil had told the Queen not to forget.
It said no plots, wars or harm against the Queen,
or incitement of others in that same scene.
To monitor this, Cecil had many spies;
it was a vast network enterprise.
Infringements meant the death penalty,
executions for potential offenders to see.
The time that the Act of Treason had begun
was the year that de Vere became 21.
Heirs to Elizabeth’s throne were redefined.
What did the legislators have in mind?
Before, heirs were to be – lawfully begotten.
Now – “The naturall yssue of her Ma’ j body” – given.
This situation could be outside of marriage.
Has the law seen a move of miscarriage?
Don’t question the Queen’s or Parliament’s legal authority
in matters relating to the royal succession’s entity.
Cecil was surely and completely involved,
and the state of illegitimacy now solved?
Did this woman of 38 already have an heir?
By this Act such a person was legalized there.
The Act was strict about rumour and gossip;
it did not allow even a thoughtless quip.
All freedom of speech was thus curtailed,
the punishment severe if you failed.
Your assets seized, you would be put to death,
if anything negative was on your breath.
You could not criticize the Queen or call her names.
These consequences would stop those kind of games.
It was treason to even discuss succession
or to give a potential candidate attention.
Whether succession should be hereditary or elective,
was a topic that Titus Andronicus made active.

A playwright in Tudor times wasn’t a noble profession
only a working man could have that confession.
A playwright Earl would have to change his name,
so that it wasn’t out there in the public domain.
He could write a poem, letter or sonnet,
but not a whole play with his name on it.
The subject of the play was another problem,
and you had to guard your clever strategem.
Hiding the truth played both sides of the fence
with care to be taken not to give any offence.
Everyone was subject to the Queen’s authority;
complete obedience was what she wanted to see.
If you had dared to threaten her power,
she could have you sent to the Tower.
You would have been in complete disgrace
if your words had made the monarch lose face.

England was a police state in Tudor times,
with spies to find who planned any crimes.
A hint of a problem could get you persecuted
and anything more could get you executed.
A favorite theme was a Catholic plot,
whether you were for them, or not.
They tracked those who might take down the Queen,
and followed them to find where they had been.
It would have been foolish to confront a dictator;
much better to go to a play as spectator.
If any words in the play gave a hint of sedition,
the censor at Stationers’ Company would cut them.
If you were a master of covering your track,
you wouldn’t end up with a knife in your back.

Who would you choose the author to be;
an actor in a theatre company?
And if you owned that same theatre troupe,
you could have a frequent presence in the group.
If any script changes needed to be made
you would be waiting there in the shade.
What more natural sequence of events
could an author have – as consequence?
And who would gossip about such interaction
when the Lord Chamberlain’s Men put a play on?
It was possible that the actors would know,
but they would just want to get on with the show.

When the Earl of Essex rebelled against the Queen,
she only became distraught after the scene.
The participants were found quite soon,
and taken to the Tower’s dark gloom.
On the evening of the previous day
Essex had requested to see a play.
Richard II was the chosen performance
to inspire the rebels to take a stance.
The spies questioned the actors’ participation
to decide whether to use prosecution.
They concluded that they only fulfilled a request
and had a no part at all in any conquest.
But Elizabeth heard about the requested play
and demanded to read it in private, anyway.
It was said one scene was a blow to her pride
as she realized she was that man inside.

What is it like to deny you’re the author;
especially someone with so much candour?
You had published some lines of poetry
that had no real, lasting quality.
Mostly your letters were very droll
with few expressions used at all.
And if your words were at all suspect
you used East Anglian dialect.
You became a master of disguise;
themes which in the plays arise.
Disguise is a form of liberation;
telling the truth without being a villain.
For security, when you have something to hide,
an exterior mask can protect what’s inside.
You can speak candidly behind a fake face,
not wondering which word you should erase.
Honesty is always a dangerous tool,
only to be put in the hands of a Fool.
Hiding the truth is a protection mechanism;
you can’t be pinned down within such a schism.

The reason for hiding the truth is to survive;
you can only use the pen when you are alive.
You were said to be fond of codes or a cypher,
but we need the right key to find who you are.
You said the benefit of writing is found in the reader.
I say the credit should always go to the author.
Although you chose for safety to have a pretender,
a false name was attached to your work in the future.
Tragedy is not only found in your plays,
but also when a usurper gets all the praise.

“The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite
That ever I was born to set it right.”
                                        Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5