Sidney in Retrospect: Selections from English Literary Renaissance

Sidney in Retrospect: Selections from English Literary Renaissance

Sidney in Retrospect: Selections from English Literary Renaissance

Sidney in Retrospect: Selections from English Literary Renaissance

Excerpt

On 17 April 1985, nearly four centuries after his early and unexpected death, one of the three greatest writers of the Tudor English Renaissance was finally given a plaque to indicate an unmarked grave long since obliterated and lost, perhaps destroyed by the Great London Fire of 1666. In the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and Sidney's direct descendant, Viscount De L'Isle of Penshurst, Kent; to the music of Orlando Gibbons; accompanied by the words of Sir Francis Drake, John Donne, and Sidney himself, and the poetry of George Herbert and Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, Sidney's sister, a new tablet was placed in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, which reads,

PHILIP SIDNEY Kt
Poet Soldier
Courtier and Diplomat
BORN AT PENSHURST
30 NOVEMBER 1554
DIED OF WOUNDS
RECEIVED AT ZUTPHEN
17 OCTOBER 1586
QUO FATA VOCANT

He has at last been awarded the public recognition long given to his peers, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser, at the riverside church in Stratford-on-Avon and in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

He had had a splendid burial at St. Paul's in due course in the early days of 1587--but his body had had to lie for several months since Elizabeth I refused prompt and fitting burial offered by the Dutch government, while Sidney's father-in-law, Sir Francis Walsingham, scrabbled about to pay first the heavy debts that arose from the sudden battlefield casualty, and while the Earl of Essex raised enough money, with others, to underwrite the costs. And even the tomb in Saint Paul's was soon overshadowed by a grander monument to a lesser man, Sir Christopher Hatton, an unpopular member of the Privy Council but a favorite of the Queen: the London antiquarian John Stow confirms this in his 1598 Survey of London where he tells us that "a merry Poet" wrote "Philip and . . .

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