Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640

By Gavin Alexander | Go to book overview

2
Elegies and Legacies

Reader,

Within this Church Sir Philip Sidney lies,

Nor is it fit tha…hould more acquaint,
Lest superstition rise,

And Men adore,

Souldiers, their Martyr; Lovers, their Saint.1

Many poets tried to imagine what Sidney's epitaph should be. Edward Herbert's effort probably dates from the 1600s and manages an economy that seemed impossible in the years immediately following Sidney's death. For Herbert, Sidney has becom…yword for the love-poet and chivalric soldier, so he need only glance metonymically at these aspects of the myth. In late 1586 and early 1587 the sense of why Sidney mattered and what legacy he had left was rather less clear:

For his witt, learninge, and knowledge in divers languages he was muche admired, for his courtasie and affability towards all men no less beloved. and for all other his singuler parts of bounty, courag and liberaliti (bothe to strangers and his owne countrey men) as greatly honored of all that harde his fame (which was spred about the worlde) as of those that knew him hear at home.2

Thomas Lant wa…ervant of Sidney who went with him to the Low Countries, and his own tribute was to design thirty images recording Sid- ney's funeral procession in detail.3 But Lant's text for the final plate might

1 Edward Herbert, 'Epitaph on Sir Philip Sidney lying in St. Paul 's without a Monument, to be fastned upon the Church door', in The Poems English and Latin of Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, ed. G. C. Moore Smith (Oxford, 1923), 53.

2 Thomas Lant (engraved by de Brij), Sequitur celebritas et pompa funeris … (1587), plate 30; facsimile in Elegies.

3 On Lant see ODNB, Elizabeth Goldring, 'Sir Philip Sidney and the Politics of Elizabethan Festival', in Court Festivals of the European Renaissance, ed. J. R. Mulryne and Elizabeth Goldring (Aldershot, 2002), 199–224, Sander Bos et al., 'Sidney's Funeral Portrayed', in 1586, 38–61, and J. F. R. Day, 'Death be very proud: Sidney, Subversion, and Elizabethan Heraldic Funerals', in Tudor Political Culture, ed. Dale Hoak (Cambridge, 1995), 179–203.

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Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • Note on Spelling, References, and Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction xix
  • 1 - Dialogue and Incompletion 1
  • 2 - Elegies and Legacies 56
  • 3 - the Last Word 76
  • 4 - Families and Friends 128
  • 5 - Finding and Making 149
  • 6 - Lyric after Sidney 193
  • 7 - Life after Sidney 220
  • 8 - Versions of Arcadia 262
  • 9 - A Constant Art 283
  • Postscript 332
  • Bibliography 339
  • Index 363
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