I thought it might be interesting to take on the endless arguments about who wrote the plays of Shakespeare and compare them with the arguably more serious debate over authorship of the books of the Bible. Accordingly, in the first of these poems, I have parodied one of Shakespeare’s more popular sonnets, Sonnet 116, to suggest that even if it were true that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare, authorship debates largely miss the real point: that what matters most is the writer’s God-given literary gifts. In the second poem, readers may recognize my paraphrase of passages from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Coriolanus—along with a subtle nod to Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Henry V—which serve in this form to argue that the Bible can still be God’s word, pointing us to Christ no matter who wrote any of the individual books within the Bible.
Let us not to the questioning of authorship
Admit significance. Will is still Will
Regardless which new theory’s advanced
Denying Stratford’s son his due respect.
O no! it is an ever-fixed voice
That wrote The Tempest and joined the good King’s Men;
He is the ink to every scholar’s pen,
Whose worth’s unknown, although degrees be taken.
Will’s not Time’s fool, though critics’ thoughts and tastes
Within its bending sickle’s compass come;
Will alters not with their brief hours and weeks,
But bears his Maker’s gift, the fairest words.
If this be error and I should prove mistaken,
We’ll read Will still, although his name be Bacon.
Doubt thou that only Moses wrote the Torah
Doubt thou the authorship of Job
Doubt thou who wrote the letter to the Hebrews
But never doubt God’s love.
What’s in a name? That which we call The Book
By any author would un-stone our hearts,
In token of which my sinful heart I give Him
With all its dross, known to the Lord, belonging.
So, from this time, for hanging on the cross
I call Him Christ, Emmanuel, my Lord.
Not unto us, but to thy Word give glory
Author of all, pen Thou our story.
John has an M.A. in English from Morehead State University and is currently working on an A.A.S. in Cyber Security & Info Assurance through Ivy Tech Community College, where he has been employed since November 2009 as a tutor and de facto librarian. He admits to being a hopeless nerd and counts C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Cline, and Pierce Brown among his favorite authors. He has a collection of over 100 books on North and South Korea and hopes to travel to both Korea and Japan someday soon.
John Stanifer, “Authorship: A Poetic Meditation,” An Unexpected Journal: Shakespeare & Cultural Apologetics 5, no. 4. (Advent 2022), 51-52.