LONDON— An American scholar paging through an old library manuscript discovered a 90line poem believed to have been penned by William Shakespeare possibly making it the first “new” work by the Elizabethan bard found in over two centuries.

“It’s the most important discovery I have ever made. It’s the sort of discovery that is a gift from the gods,” Shakespearean scholar Gary Taylor, 32, told United Press International on Sunday.

“Anyone could have found it in the last 230 years if they just looked,” he said.

Working as the joint general editor of a team of four scholars doing research for the New Complete Shakespeare of the Oxford University Press, Taylor found the poem Nov. 15 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

The poem was found in a leather-bound anthology of English Renaissance poetry, tied with a pink ribbon and written in ink, probably by a professional scribe. It has been at the library since 1756.

“It was about 10:30 a.m. the Friday before last,” said Taylor, who was. Described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the “world’s most brilliant” Shakespearean textual analysts.

“1 found the poem on folio (page) 108. It is not an unrivaled masterpiece. It’s a virtuoso piece like’ discovering an early Mozart composition and it shows an extremely talented, precocious verbal creativity,” said Taylor.

The first few words of the poem reads: “Shall I die?” Shall I fly/ Lovers’ baits and deceits, sorrow breeding./ Shall I fend? Shall I send?/ Shall I show and not rue my proceeding?”

Describing it as an erotic Elizabethan” work, Taylor said the poem was important because it showed Shakespeare writing the kind of power “we hadn’t seen him doing. It extends our notion of his range in his period.”

The London Sunday Times and the New York Times said it was probably the first Shakespearean work found since the 17th century.

Taylor, who came to England from Topeka, Kan., 10 years ago, said he was sure nobody else in this century had found a “new’ work by the man often said to be the greatest writer of all time.

Stanley Wells, 55, a colleague of Taylor’s at the Oxford University Press, and one of the world’s leading authorities on Shakespeare, also said he believes the poem is genuine Shakespeare.

“The first thing we did was check the authenticity. We conducted every test known to us, and they all pointed Shakespeare early in his career, probably around the period 159395, the period he wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ he said.

Wells said the authenticity tests were carried out using a computer programmed specially for Shakespeare’s works.

“J want to point out it is not me who says it’s Shakespeare. We have an early document saying it’s Shakespeare and if anyone wants to disprove it, it’s up to them to check the document,” he said.

“Gary is an extremely good scholar, but this is Sucha feeble poem that I am not convinced. But it should certainly lead to a debate,” he told the Sunday Times.

Article extracted from this publication >>  November 29, 1985