William Shakespeare: A Lover's Complaint

(2398 words)
  • Roy Booth (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
First hovering o”er the paper with her quill.
Conceit and grief an eager combat fight:
What wit sets down is blotted straight with will.
This is too curious-good; this blunt and ill.
Much like a press of people at a door
Throng her inventions which shall go before.

This stanza from Lucrece (ll. 1296-1302) offers a description of aspects of the act of writing quite possibly as they were experienced by Shakespeare himself. “Will” himself famously “never blotted out a line”, while Lucrece’s tears or shaking hand blot her words. But if at first she cannot get a word onto her paper (the writing materials have …

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Booth, Roy. "A Lover's Complaint". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 January 2013
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=15969, accessed 27 September 2016.]