Life After Sidney
Fo…eneration after Sidney's death, visitors to St Paul's in search of a monument to England's hero would find onl…rief epitaph on a board hung fro…illar by his grave.1…etrically clumsy imitation of an epitaph by Du Bellay, its conceit is that 'the noble Sidney' is divided in 'six parts':
for none will suppose,
Tha…mall heape of stones can Sydney enclose.
His body hath England, for she it bred,
Netherland his blood, in her defence shed:
The Heavens have his soule, the Arts have his fame,
All Souldiors the greefe, the World his good name.2
There is something both poignant and appropriate about this temporary memorial. In both its meaning and its material form the epitaph refuses to 'enclose' Sidney in his grave. The epitaph is not engraved in stone (epi-taphos) but is something lik…anuscript text, more connected to present textuality and life than to the past. (One imagines that the epitaph must have needed renewing and replacing from time to time.) It makes Sidne…iving and evolving monument, his memory cultivated in the places and by the people he affected and his fame dependent not on the longevity of marble but on the results of his actions and the reading of his works.
1 See W. H. Bond, 'The Epitaph of Sir Philip Sidney', MLN, 58 (1943), 253–7 and Anne Lake Prescott, French Poets and the English Renaissance (New Haven, Ct., and London, 1978), 60–2 and 252 n. 40.
2 Text from John Eliot, Ortho-epia Gallica (1593), quoted in Prescott, 61.