William Shakespeare: A Lover's Complaint

(2608 words)
  • Roy Booth (Royal Holloway)

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 w…

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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 31 January 2015.]