Shall I compare thee to a really nice stick? Truly thou art the fairest girl in 4th grade.You must let me kiss you, though I shall suffer the slings and pummeling of the other boys in the class. A poem for my belov’d:
Z ealously I pine for thee
Z ee only one I want is thee
I cky you are not
Take pity on a poor lovelorn boy. Do you like me back? Yes/No (circlest one).
The discovery of this letter rocked the literary world. Could this really be Shakespeare’s earliest poem? It bears little resemblance to his later sonnets, lacking the form and structure for which he would later become famous. Dr. Brenda Ponnhammer of the University of East Krakow went so far as to call the poem “crass, unoriginal, and wholly unbecoming of the most famous wordsmith in English history.” To be fair, Shakespeare was only ten years old when he wrote this, though the immortal bard probably should have written something a little bit more poetic. In fact, Shakespeare only once again used the word “icky” in his works, using it to describe Cassius’ sandals in Julius Caesar.
When this note was originally published, scholars fiercely debated its authenticity. The reference to “a really nice stick” lent credence to those who believed this poem was a lost work of Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon, famously, was obsessed with sticks, twigs, branches, and the like, and would sit at his window turning a really nice stick over and over in his hands for hours, until his wife came in and took the drugs away from him. There can be no doubts to its veracity, however, as a cache of memorabilia related to this “Lizzie” was recently uncovered under a table in Brisbane. Shakespeare had apparently collected mementos from his crush, including a dried flower, an invitation to a school dance, a training bra, and a half eaten muffin.
Aaron Melnik of the Shakespeare institute of Newark believes this “Lizzie” to be none other than Queen Elizabeth the First. Although it would be highly unlikely, Elizabeth was described as “luminous” in her youth, owing to both her beauty and a difficult bout of food poisoning that left her skin tinted green for several months. More likely, “Lizzie” is Eliza Chesterton-Smythe, a girl from Avon who grew up with Shakespeare. The two are known to have had a fiery affair, which lasted 20 minutes until she got fed up and pushed him off the jungle gym. She would have almost certainly, tragically, circled “no” on the above letter, inadvertently turning down the opportunity to be a playwright’s wife, the most glamorous existence a 16th century girl could hope for. Girls were not taught to read in England until well into the 19th Century, and she may have simply discarded the note as a tool of the devil before going back to her knitting practice. In any case, Eliza and William were not to be.
Vitally, this whole affair would provide young William the life experience he needed to begin his first play, performed while he was still at school. Unfortunately, no surviving copies of “The Adventure of Captain Billy McAwesome and the Evil Dragon Bitch Lady, who is Named Lizzie and Sucks Hard” are known to exist, though as any casual Shakespeare enthusiast knows, this play would later form the basic structure of Macbeth.