The verses of the just-discovered “Shakespeare” poem printed in The Times (Dec. 15) sound much more like the work of the 16th-Century lutenist and songwriter John Dowland (1562-1626) than of the famous Bard of Avon. The meter, the use of many rhetorical questions and the theme of the speaker’s adoring but unrequited love for a lady are all characteristic of Dowland’s lyrics (e.g., his “Shall I Sue”). The alleged date of composition (sometime between 1593 and 1959) also coincides with Dowland’s most productive period (he published the first collection of his lute songs in 1597).
Dowland was a competent lyricist, but his verses were never on a par with those of his illustrious contemporary. The pedestrian nature of the verse, together with the stylistic peculiarities mentioned above, argue for Dowland’s rather than Shakespeare’s authorship.