I apologize for posting across social media, but some people follow me only on this blog. I an honored to have three poems in David L. O’Nan’s massive (over 300 pages) anthology, Poets of 2020. There are so many wonderful poets in this volume–many well-known names! The book is available in several formats. Here’s the […]Poems in Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020 — Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings
“And in short, I was afraid.” T.S. Eliot reveals it all here. We can go home now.Of Poetry and Fire (Analysis #1: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot). — Lucy’s Works
Nothing except the curry is as British as the panto. I’ve made that claim about a lot of things, and it’s true of every last one of them. And I didn’t even make up the comparison, so lots of people have made the claim about lots of things. Nothing is as unoriginal as comparing an […]Oh, no you won’t: A quick history of the British panto — Notes from the U.K.
*Reblogged by Francis Barker 2020 — Creator: blogger, writer, poet, artist, astrologer
WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS? Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE? Leave […]Nevermoor: A Contemporary Book I Think Should Become a Classic (Classic Remarks) — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions
*Reblogged by Francis Barker, blogger, writer, artist, astrologer.
The other day I stumbled across an article with the headline “William Shakespeare was undeniably bisexual, researchers claim.” I immediately rolled my eyes at the word “undeniably.” Shakespeare was not undeniably anything. Due to limited records (which is perfectly normal for the period), doubt can be cast on almost every aspect of his existence. Basic […]Was Shakespeare Bisexual? — Ripe Good Scholar
After the mysterious William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens is probably ranked second in the all time greats of English writers — though to compare them is difficult as they lived more than two centuries apart and wrote in differing genres.
Neither is it possible to do a credible analysis of the Bard’s birth chart as we don’t know when exactly he was born, whereas we do know when Master Charles Dickens arrived in this troubled world.
It must have been pretty cold that late winter evening in 1812, in the famous port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. At the time, the mutable earth sign of Virgo was rising on the eastern horizon. I think this pretty much correlates with a known part of the great Victorian writer’s character.
Virgo is always seen as analytical and critical, fussy and fastidious, with the keenest eye for detail and thereby a quick learner. The rising sign gives a good idea as to our approach to life, not necessarily revealing our inner nature.
As the young Charles grew up, this grasp of minutiae was serve him especially well, though this same quality might have led him along many different routes, not necessarily along a literary one. Virgo’s approach could be said to be scientific, though Charles basically lacked a full formal education of the time, for which we perhaps ought to be grateful; had he received one, he might well have chosen a different path and we might never have heard of him.
A Tale of Two Writers
Intriguingly, this may be one of two factors which the young Charles shared with Shakespeare of Stratford Upon Avon, who also appears to have not finished his own formal education. We do know that Dickens worked for a time in a law office in London, which some suspect the young Bard also did back in his day, when he too arrived in London during his so-called ‘missing years’. Dickens was a keen theatre goer too and may have grasped ideas of characterisation from that colourful arena. Virgo is a very keen observer indeed.
With Virgo rising, its ruler, Mercury, becomes the ruler of the chart. Interestingly, Hermes is placed in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn in the 5th house. Mercury in Capricorn is practical, realistic, systematic and ambitious.
A Serious Mind — With a ‘Twist’
But this Mercury is also in a positive aspect with Uranus, ‘the magician’ in the 3rd house, also associated with the mind. In other words, his mind was practically inventive — with a twist of genius, one would suspect.
Mercury in Capricorn denotes a mind which must see definite results from the considerable effort put in, mentally. The 5th house is the creative arena, where children of the mind are hewn, served by the brilliance of Uranus from the third house.
Saturn is also in its own sign of Capricorn in the same house. He is powerfully placed here, underlining the seriousness in which he applied himself to his creativity. At times it must have been a joyless experience — but he was determined to succeed.
Here then is part of the root of his ambition as a writer; what he may have lacked in education, he made up with in sheer graft and more than a little invention. His prodigious output is testimony to that, with 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as countless letters.
But this is only the beginning of the extent of what was a very well developed mind. If Mercury gives an indication of the general everyday quality of mind, then Jupiter reveals the more expansive and aspirational side.
Dickens’ Jupiter is found in the mutable air sign of Gemini, high up in the tenth house of goals and career. Here is great flexibility, plus a curiosity and restlessness, a quality which he could apply to his career as a journalist, writer, as well as a lecturer and performer. There was something of the showman about him.
The 3rd and 9th houses are also indicative of the quality of mind. A Scorpio 3rd house in the whole sign house division method, reveals a mental intensity and investigative quality, bolstered here, as I have already stated, by the presence of the eccentric Uranus.
A Well Developed Mind
What is more, the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, is found in fiery Aries in the 8th house. Here is a person of some energy and verve, even a quick temper, but who applies it in the area of shared security, deeper concerns, such as investigation. Had he pursued his early career as a journalist, he might well have reached great heights there too. But he had his own path to follow.
His 9th house (higher mind again) is Taurus, ruled by Venus, which is found in sensitive and sentimental Pisces in the 7th house, closely conjunct the then undiscovered Pluto. Venus in Pisces has strong feelings, an almost spiritual ability to empathise with others, especially so in the 7th house of relationships. He definitely had the ability to put himself in other people’s shoes.
The Pursuit of Social Justice
Pluto here only deepens this tendency; this may well correlate with his lifelong pursuit of justice for the poor and particularly poor children, whose plight he described so movingly in many of works. To say this man had a social conscience would be an understatement.
Equally, we also know that Dickens’ was a very fine mimic, able to take on the persona of others that he came across; this also correlates with his Venus/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 7th house. There is little wonder that when it came to portraying characters in print, he was able to make them seem so realistic, his Virgo ascendant giving him the ability to fine tune those intrinsic qualities of character.
I have said a lot already, but not yet mentioned the Sun or Moon, two of the key factors in a birth chart. His sun in Aquarius in the 6th house describes his basic inner nature. Here is a man, who despite his deeply felt compassion for others, could also detach himself if so wished and thereby do greater good. He identifies with work and service to others in this regard, too.
Aquarius is said to be unusual, but I think this has only grown over the past two centuries after an increasing number of astrologers have made Uranus the prime ruler of this sign. I think this is an error.
Emotionally Expressive and Sentimental
Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, but the side of Saturn which plans for the longer future, at a time of late winter in the north of the world when general preparations are made for the onset of spring. Aquarius is a carer too, but not in the same way as the deeply personal uniting principle of Venus in sensitive Pisces.
His Moon is in Sagittarius, very close to Neptune in the 4th house. So here is yet another facet of this multi-dimensional character. He can be emotionally expressive, sometimes overly so and gushing. He is also deeply sensitive and sentimental about issues regarding home, family, women and the past.
A Host of Characters
Here may lie another facet of his ability to write so convincingly about the lives of people in the mid 19th century, aided by several other sensitive areas of his chart I have alluded to above. He writes so well because he feels so strongly. Yet none of this may have been possible if he hadn’t got the ability to compartmentalise, using his considerable intellectual gifts to formally present us with those wonderful creations in print.
Charles Dickens, like all of us, was several characters rolled into one. But his particular chemistry was one which gave sublime literary expression to the troubles and the characters of his time — and for that we must all be eternally grateful.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
‘Who Wrote Shakespeare?’ by John Michell (Thames & Hudson) is, in my opinion, probably the best book of introduction to the ‘Shakespeare Authorship‘ Question. However, this book is not so easy to find these days.
I have been fascinated by this Shakespeare puzzle for several years now, though I am still a long way short of doing enough research, and even further away from coming to a firm answer which sits well in my mind. It is an enigma which has occupied many individuals their whole lifetime over the last two hundred years, or more.
So why is there any doubt that the man of Stratford Upon Avon in central England is the true author of the plays which bear the name William Shakespeare? The chief problem is that the known life of William Shakespeare, or Shakspere (the spelling of his name is a subject unto itself), does not appear to be that of the greatest writer of all time.
Where is Will?
To cut a long story short, there are around half a dozen known signatures purportedly of this man, but they are all poorly written. Some say that is because all those that survive are from when he was ill at the end of his fifty two year old lifespan.
More than this, out of around seventy or so pieces of other documentary evidence, none refer to anything to do with literature, or books.
What the records do seem to show are the dealings of a business man, with a keen interest in litigation. This man does appear to be in London at the right time and involved in the theatre, though not as a writer, but as a minor player – at best. His dealings with the London stage scene of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean times all centre around business.
These are the prime reasons for doubt. But who might have written the plays and the poems?
John Michell, who had a very find mind and wrote some fascinating, enlightening books, put the arguments across superbly. He has chapters for the prime candidates, including Shakspere (the spelling of his name is a subject unto itself) of Stratford. First comes Francis Bacon, a known intellectual of the period, a writer and philosopher with all the prerequisite knowledge and library of books to have written the works – if not the genius.
Then comes the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, who has consistently been the favourite candidate for around a century, even though he died in 1604 and the plays of Shakespeare are thought to have been written as late as 1611 with The Tempest. There is much to link his life to the works of Shakespeare, even down to a broad knowledge of Italy and other European areas which feature so prominently in Shakespeare.
Two other earls appear in Michell’s list, namely William Stanley the 6th Earl of Derby and Roger Manners the 5th Earl of Rutland. They both have intriguing links to the mystery, though we still apparently lack definitive and documentary evidence. Why are there so many aristocrats here? The primary reason is that when one looks at Shakespeare’s works as a whole, he does appear to have a deep familiarity with and love of the workings of courtly things and of history. A midlander with barely a grammar school education is far less likely to have been able to write what Shakespeare did. Yes, genius does exist, but even genius needs an education.
Nom de Plume
What is more, in those days it was rather unseemly for high ranking individuals, such as the aristocracy, to publish work in their own name – they would often use a nom de plume for disguise.
Equally intriguing is the case of Christopher Marlowe, born just two months before Stratford Will and the one man whose sheer brilliance as a playwrite and poet can stand alongside the author we know as Shakespeare, creating such masterpieces as ‘Tamburlaine’ and ‘Dr Faustus’.
A Reckoning Over A Bill
However, always a controversial figure, Marlowe’s candidacy is fatally flawed in that he officially died on May 30 1593 at Deptford, London, apparently murdered over a dispute about a bill, or ‘reckoning’. Marlowe was also an intelligence operative and much of his activity is murky. However, some feel that this story and the subsequent inquest are totally unsound, that he somehow survived and continued to write in secret with the nom de plume, William Shake-speare.
There are also proponents who believe that Shakespeare was a collaborative effort, involving two or more of the above. As strange as it sounds, at this point in my research, I tend to favour this, though as to the candidates involved I am not yet certain.
So there it is, a very fine book – if you can find it, whatever you may think of the subject. So who wrote Shakespeare? I don’t know! But I will continue to investigate, little by little. Many still close their ears and shout ‘conspiracy theorist!’ Cognitive dissonance is a feature of our times and is surely something to get over. Do we believe in freedom of thought, or not? That is the question.
I have only skimmed over the candidates here, but I intend to write some more involved pieces about specific men – and even a couple of women. I will also bring my astrological knowledge into play where I can.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
Back in the early 1970s when I was a teenager, I grew to love this kind of book. I, like many, was fascinated by ufos, aliens and space, that maybe the myths of the Greek gods were a retelling of ancient visitation of spacemen from other worlds.
Such books would have been scorned by my history teacher, yet these were far more interesting to me than the learned tomes we were supposed to study for O level.
This is the one I bought in 1973, which, as you can see I covered with plastic, as lovingly as any schoolboy would cover a textbook. It’s in very good condition.
Of course it was Erich von Daniken‘s famous book ‘Chariots of the Gods‘ which had really fired my imagination a little earlier. Although he was to receive much criticism from both the scientific and religious communities, I still believe there is much to be learned from his books and from other authors like Drake.
I recall one school assembly put on by some pupils around 1973 which even brought up the subject of ancient aliens. Was God and astronaut? The following day the headmaster took to the stage himself and attempted to shoot down the theory in flames. Despite this, the theory is still out there and as popular as ever.
The great thing about Drake’s writing is that whilst he is clearly learned, he writes in such an accessible way – it had to be for me to read it! I particularly enjoyed the chapter about the Ramayana of ancient India and his interpretations of it.
The general thesis of all these books is that extraterrestrials have visited ‘our domain’ in the past and have effected the course of human civilisation, perhaps even to the extent of altering our DNA through one method or another.
For me it is a wonderful adventure, and even if not all of it is true, it is highly entertaining, nevertheless. One qualification I would insert is that the understanding of the word ‘extraterrestrial’ has become more complex in recent years. I am quite sure there are other dimensions to reality, and that ours is only one.
Therefore the origin of these interlopers, whether they be in spacecraft or not, could be from the same third dimension as our own, or from the fourth or fifth dimensions, the latter which may surround us invisibly.
I think it’s important for us to keep an open mind, to explore and yes… to imagine.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
What Is Classic Remarks? Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. How Can I Participate? […]
*** Very good and interesting discussion here. There is still a lot of scope for adaptation in the realm of classic literature to make classic films!
Over the holidays, I was discussing the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy with my father in law. He is an admitted novice when it comes to Shakespeare, but – like most of us – he has some basic experience with the plays. He was unfamiliar with the fact that there is a group of people who doubt […]
Ah – the plans one makes for retirement! So many things I had wanted to do, but had told myself I would do once I was retired, when I no longer had the pressure of work to contend with, that day-to-day grind. What one doesn’t take into account when making such plans are the increasing […]