Sidney: The Critical Heritage

By Martin Garrett | Go to book overview

18.

Edmund Spenser

1591-5

Dedicating The Ruines of Time to the Countess of Pembroke in 1591, Spenser says that friends had upbraided him for not having shown ‘anie thankefull remembrance towards’ Sidney and his family (Complaints, 1591). Accordingly lines 281-343 of The Ruines remember Sidney, chiefly as a ‘blessed spirite’ and Arcadian shepherd, but with only oblique reference to his writing. ‘I.O.’, in The Lamentation of Troy for the Death of Hector, London, 1594, sig. B2, again calls on Spenser to ‘declare the fame’ of Sidney. In 1595, possibly in response to such criticism, he included Sidney allusions, among them one to Stella and the ‘verse of noblest shepheard lately dead’ (lines 532-4) in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe and published Astrophel

The excerpt below characterizes Sidney as a poet of the pastoral and of love, alluding in a generalized, idealized fashion to Astrophil and Stella. Later in the poem Stella expires immediately after Astrophel; there is no suggestion that she represents Penelope Rich. (The whole Astrophel collection was dedicated to Sidney’s widow, Frances Walsingham.) Most of the poem is concerned with the martial Protestant achievements of Sidney in the guise of a shepherd, who hunts the ‘brutish nation’ (sig. F2) and is riven through the thigh by ‘A cruell beast of most accursed brood’ (sig. F2v).

Astrophel, together with the other elegies printed with it under Spenser’s guidance, was influential in the establishment of Sidney’s reputation as a poet. Dennis Kay, Melodious Tears: The English Funeral Elegy from Spenser to Milton, Oxford, 1990, p. 59, notes that the numerical tribute to the 108 sonnets of Astrophil and Stella—Astrophel has 216 lines and the ‘Dolefull lay of Clorinda’ 108—is ‘a silent demonstration of the sequence’s survival, as well as of its capacity to structure subsequent writing’. The use of feminine rhyme also salutes Sidney (Kay, Melodious Tears, p. 53).

Here and in his other references to Sidney—see also No. 4 and the dedicatory sonnet to the Countess of Pembroke

-127-

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Sidney: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor’s Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiv
  • Abbreviations xvi
  • Note on the Text xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Edward Waterhouse 87
  • 2 - Philip Sidney 88
  • 4 - Edmund Spenser 93
  • Note 94
  • 6 - George Puttenham 96
  • 7 - William Temple 98
  • 8 - Geoffrey Whitney 102
  • 12 - George Whetstone 110
  • 15 - Sir John Harington 115
  • 16 - Thomas Newman 118
  • 18 - Edmund Spenser 127
  • 21 - Thomas Moffet 136
  • 22 - John King 139
  • 24 - Gervase Markham 141
  • 25 - Francis Meres 146
  • Note 147
  • 27 - Ben Jonson 152
  • 29 - Brian Twyne 157
  • 32 - Matthew Gwynne 169
  • 34 - Richard Carew 171
  • 36 - John Day 174
  • Notes 186
  • Note 200
  • 45 - John Donne 211
  • 47 - Upon Sydneis Arcadia 217
  • 48 - Michael Drayton 219
  • 52 - Edmund Waller 227
  • 54 - Richard Lovelace 232
  • 62 - Charles Cotton 259
  • 63 - John Aubrey 260
  • 65 - Edward Phillips 264
  • 66 - Life of Spenser 265
  • 67 - D. Tyndale 266
  • 69 - Anthony Wood 268
  • 70 - ‘j.N.’ 270
  • 71 - D. Stanley 272
  • 72 - Elizabeth Montagu 275
  • 75 - Samuel Johnson 281
  • 76 - ‘philisides’ 283
  • 78 - The History of Argalus and Parthenia 287
  • 79 - The Gentleman’s Magazine 288
  • 80 - Richard Brinsley Sheridan 290
  • 84 - Thomas Zouch 296
  • 85 - The Annual Review and History of Literature for 1808 299
  • 87 - Sir Egerton Brydges 304
  • 89 - William Hazlitt 317
  • 94 - Henry Hallam 335
  • 95 - Isaac D’israeli 337
  • Select Bibliography 350
  • Index 353
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