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Read Heron

by Luc Reid

William Mouver wrote of the Jacobean poet Thomas Heron, "As a cause of weeping, wonder, excitement, fascination, and utter envy, there has never been nor likely will ever be any poetry in the English language to rival his. That his arresting understanding of women and the beguiling romance of his words brought him as dull a wife as Judith Bullmer is frankly amazing. His writing is justly accounted the very paragon of manly love."

Just three days after penning these lines, Mouver was dragged out of his home by an angry mob and kicked to death for seducing a blind twelve-year-old girl literally during her parents' funeral the previous week. Since he was 43 at the time, this makes Mouver the longest-lived Heron scholar to date.

By way of examples, barrister and Heron obsessive Sean McGargan died in a library fire he set to foil a rival scholar. John Hume-Border, author of the masterful but never-completed Thomas Heron and His Times, was shot fleeing the scene of a "badger game" swindle on his 35th birthday. Documentary filmmaker Yeon Kun Kim died of a drug overdose while shooting what he claimed was an "explosively revelatory" account of Heron's life, and the footage he acquired was somehow lost while his estate was being settled. No fewer than twenty-nine graduate students are known to have committed suicide and/or died in vehicular accidents (one notable example involving both a speedboat and a helicopter) while working on Heron-related thesis papers. Most recently, noted biographer and poet Andrea Land was found dead for no apparent reason in her home office, clutching a piece of paper on which were scrawled the words "Heron 'Lament,' start 4th letter then 5th etc."

"Lament" could only refer to "The Physician's Lament," Heron's brilliant, bittersweet, and beloved long form poem of 1619, and somewhat to the surprise of everyone, reading the fourth letter of the first line and following it with the fifth letter of the next line (and so on, with a reversal of direction when the end of a line is reached) produced the message "My husband doth account this verse his ouwn, with wits that ne'er thought of love have knowne."

Professional and amateur scholars alike scoured Heron's oeuvre for other messages, and found at least six other genuine examples (plus any number of examples that were more wishful thinking than artful writing) scattered throughout the later, most celebrated work attributed to Heron. All of which established that the actual author of Thomas Heron's poems was inarguably Judith Bullmer Heron, making Thomas a fraud and Judith one of the most celebrated artists of all time, lesbian or otherwise.

Manly love is said to be still recovering.


I love this. And not just for the slightly boring reason that I'm a feminist, but because it is clever, funny, dark and smartly academic all at the same time. I particularly applaud the crash involving both a speedboat and a helicopter. Yay Luc!

Posted by: Kat Beyer | May 27, 2009 10:40 PM

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