Elizabethan Narrative Poetry

Elizabethan Narrative Poetry

Elizabethan Narrative Poetry

Elizabethan Narrative Poetry

Excerpt

Perhaps no period in English literature has quite equalled the Elizabethan Age. The versatility of its poets, their boundless exuberance and especially the apparent ease with which they seemed to produce their works have amazed critics ever since. Today the world still marvels at the high level of their production and particularly at the multitude of the poets whose song made the reign of Elizabeth the golden age of poetry. Yet it was not always so. The Marlowes and the Shakespeares, the Spensers and the Jonsons are what they are, wrote what they wrote, because other men preceded them, men who wrote painfully, haltingly, men who had to retrace the paths to great poetry, traversing the morass into which the language had fallen since the days of Chaucer. These pioneers were beset by baffling linguistic problems; they had to carve out their own rules of prosody. Gascoigne, Sidney, Webbe and many others of their time were all troubled by the great metrical problems confronting the English language. Once more English poets had to learn to sing in numbers; once again they had to restore to English the fluidity of Chaucer's tongue. For the language of the Tudors was a far cry from the language of Edward III.

A large part of this experimentation was carried out in the . . .

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