Thoughts on The Passionate Pilgrim
The anthology The Passionate Pilgrim is a fascinating partial mystery containing unauthorized publications, unclaimed publications, and publications by other poets of Shakespeare’s time (such as Christopher Marlowe). Intrigue abounds that only five poems can accurately be attributed to Shakespeare. Of these, the first two poems are from his Sonnets (numbers 138 and 144 respectively), while three come from Love’s Labours Lost (numbers 3, 5, and 16). Poems 4, 6, 9, and 11 seem like early imaginings of parts of Venus and Adonis and some poems incorporate themes seen in Shakespeare’s writing, but others seem more halting or even forced. A few have a sing-song quality that feels out of place compared to the more crafted sonnets and stanzas in the collection. Overall the tone is far less melodramatic that Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Elements of the same emotional investment and joys—and a few disappointments—are present, but in a milder way. It almost seems like a watered-down version of lovers’ stories relying on the known stanzas to carry the weight. While The Passionate Pilgrim contains pretty language and moderately interesting stories, it is a far cry from even the more controversial or inferior sonnets Shakespeare published. Nevertheless, the origins of each poem in the collection remain an entertaining mystery and it is that mystery, perhaps, that maintains its place in conversations of Shakespeare’s canon.