HISTORY OF THE SESTINA

The sestina was one of many forms of elaborate lyrical verse invented by poets who during the Middle Ages inhabited the Mediterranean coast of France -- the country known as Provence. All these Provençal forms were remarkable poetical stunts, calling for a high degree of skill on the part of the author and for great range and flexibility in the language, which must adapt itself comfortably to very severe requirements. But the sestina was something more. It became a form which was appropriate for certain ideas and which gave them peculiar dignity and beauty. While many of the other forms were forgotten, the sestina was tried in one literature after another, and after more than seven centuries it still proves interesting for poets of today.

The honor of inventing the sestina belongs to Arnaut Daniel, a Provençal author who flourished in the last quarter of the twelfth century. Concerning his life we know two picturesque but not very significant facts. He attended the court of Richard the Lion Heart, who later became the Crusader king of England. And he was a friend of the poet Bertran de Born, whom Dante afterwards pictured in Hell lamenting among the fomentors of discord and carrying by the hair his own severed head. In his poetry Arnaut treated the amatory

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Sonnets and Sestinas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • SONNETS 1
  • Single Sonnets 3
  • Sonnets from the Chinese 19
  • Sonnets for Christmas Time 27
  • SESTINAS 39
  • Single Sestinas 41
  • Double Sestinas 77
  • HISTORY OF THE SONNET 91
  • History of the Sonnet 93
  • HISTORY OF THE SESTINA 179
  • History of the Sestina 181
  • INDEX OF AUTHORS 215
  • INDEX OF POETICAL FORMS 229
  • INDEX OF POETICAL FORMS: THE SESTINA 235
  • SHAKESPEARE'S INFLUENCE ON SIR WALTER SCOTT 237
  • DANTE'S ECLOGUES - The Poetical Correspondence between Dante and Giovanni Del Virgilio 239
  • OVID'S METAMORPHOSES IN EUROPEAN CULTURE 242
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