The staff of the Francis Bacon Library enjoyed your editorial “But Alas, Poems Do Pass” (Dec. 20). Your sentiments about the new “Shakespeare” poem echo ours. However, we deplore your trying to pin “this misbegotten verse” upon the peerless Francis. He who seeks Bacon’s works shall find there one of the greatest masters of English prose. We would like to assert that mentioning Bacon’s name in connection with the recently exhumed verse is calumny of the basest sort, but alas, it is quite comparable to Francis’ (mercifully few) essays of the poetic form.
Nonetheless, we do feel that it behooves us all to bear in mind the probable number of amateur or incompetent poets living in early 17th-Century England who would have been well acquainted with Shakespeare’s (and Bacon’s) works, language and imagery. Might not the verse in question have been after the fact of the Shakespeare plays and sonnets, rather than before? If the poem does prove to be Shakespeare’s--fine. If it is Bacon’s, we would rather not know.
Bellows is librarian at the Francis Bacon Library, Claremont.