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 Shakespeares more popular sonnets, Sonnet 116, to suggest that even if it were true that Shakespeare wasnt Shakespeare, authorship debates largely miss the real point: that what matters most is the writers 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 Branaghs adaptation of Henry V—which serve in this form to argue that the Bible can still be Gods word, pointing us to Christ no matter who wrote any of the individual books within the Bible.

Part I:

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.

Part II:

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.

Citation Information

John Stanifer, “Authorship: A Poetic Meditation,” An Unexpected Journal: Shakespeare & Cultural Apologetics 5, no. 4. (Advent 2022), 51-52.