Preface

THE Stratford-upon-Avon Studies are a new series concerned with literary and theatrical subjects of major interest. The individual studies are neither regular histories nor collections of critical essays written from one particular point of view; rather they are books for any reader seeking a full and informed participation in the literature and drama of which they treat. Because they are the result of the collaboration of groups of writers with varied skills and interests, each book offers not one guide but several, and reflects many kinds of appreciation. This volume on Elizabethan poetry is the second of the series.

Elizabethan Poetry is a vast theme: as William Webbe wrote in 1586:

Among the innumerable sorts of English books and infinite fardles of printed pamphlets, wherewith this country is pestered, all shops stuffed, and every study furnished, the greatest part I think, in any one kind, are such as are either mere poetical, or which tend in some respect (as either in matter or form) to poetry.

In this new account of the 'poetical' kind, we have placed the emphasis on the shorter poems; by this means a wide variety of voices may be appraised, and the many ways in which Elizabethans thought, wrote, read, sang, and used poetry. At the centre of the book is a detailed study of a 'courtier, soldier, scholar' and of his poetry; and this indicates the important bias of the whole. Franklin Dickey describes the anthologies in which many Elizabethan poems were first printed; Muriel Bradbrook discusses one poet's 'career' and Donald Davie another's practical and personal use of his art. Our readers will be invited not only to admire and appraise, but also to consider uses and modes of poetry which in the twentieth century are almost forgotten: perhaps this is no more so than in 'the manner of poesie by which they uttered their bitter taunts, and privy nips or witty scoffs'.

The assessment of the individual achievements of Elizabethan poets is conducted in whichever way was considered most suitable. As in other volumes of Stratford-upon-Avon Studies, we have not sought a consistent style of presentation: three chapters are by poets who write

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Elizabethan Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • List of Plates 6
  • Preface 7
  • Note 10
  • I - The Sonnet from Wyatt to Shakespeare 11
  • Note 30
  • II - Collections of Songs and Sonnets 31
  • Note 52
  • III - Italian and Italianate Poetry 53
  • Note 70
  • IV - A Reading of 'The Ocean's Love to Cynthia' 71
  • Note 90
  • V - Spenser's Pursuit of Fame 91
  • Note 110
  • VI - Sir Philip Sidney and his Poetry 111
  • Note 130
  • VII - Words and Music 131
  • Note 150
  • VIII - The Cave of Mammon 151
  • Note 174
  • IX - Men like Satyrs 175
  • Note 202
  • X - The Poetry of John Donne 203
  • Index 221
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