British poetry before 1600 ebook Free download
MICHELLE M. SAUER
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronicor mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. — (Companion to literature) “The Facts On File Companion to British Poetry before 1600 is part of a four-volume set on British poetry fromthe beginnings to the present.” Includes bibliographical references and index.
III. Title: Companion to British poetry before 1600
After the Germanicinvasions (traditional date 449 C . E .), the Angles andSaxons melded into a singular culture that pushed the Celtic Britons into the further reaches of Wales,Cornwall, and Scotland. In the meantime, however, the realityis that the Celtic literatures are often grouped under the heading “British.” Although not an ideal solution,I suggest that it is preferable to excluding the literature altogether, or to grouping it under the title “English”literature.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
under the title of the sequence, with individual cover- age of the most commonly read and important sonnetsgiven in subsections just below the overview entry.(Shakespeare’s untitled sequence appears under the editorially given name Shakespeare’s Sonnets.) This sameconvention holds true for other longer works that are frequently excerpted (e.g., Piers Plowman). Some of the finest poetry of the period is in the form of the sonnet, and many sonnets appeared as part oflarger works called sonnet sequences.
Scholars continue to debate the correctness of each term, and both are commonly employed. In orderto clarify some of the issues, I have included an entry on the idea of “early modern v.
POEMS AND POETS INCLUDED
Chaucer’s friend and contemporary JohnGower wrote in all three major languages of the day—Latin, French, and Middle English, and whilehis achievement was perhaps not as great as Chaucer’s, he, too, amply demonstrated the flexibility of Englishverse and the ability of the English imagination. The Middle English era ends with the close of the 15th century, not so much because Henry VII ascended thethrone, but rather because of the advent of the print- ing press and the first stirrings of the Reformation.
TUDOR ERA POETRY
The prevalence of classical formsalso inspired new versions of quantitative verse and the return of the epic in the form of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1595). While these verse forms—the sonnet, the son- net sequence, and the lyric—would continue inpopularity throughout the 17th century, the onset of the English Civil War and the establishment of theCommonwealth (1642–1660) saw a distinct shift in religious sentiments, to be sure, but also in politicaland social expectations.
THE FUTURE OF PRE-1600 POETRY
In celebrating the vic-tory, no mention is made of the heavy losses that altered Henry’s campaign strategy; instead, the strengthof the attack became the focus of the recounting of the event, and its recording both in CHRONICLE and in song EARS Y Critical attention has focused on the religious aspects Stanza 3 recalls the 150-mile trek of Henry’s forces across northern France and the crossing of the Sommeat an unguarded place amid the threat of attack from the French forces. The volta signals an investigation of theways in which love “doth wring” the subject to extremes of emotion—“I weep and sing / In joy and woe.” Lovepresents to the desiring subject the object of his desire“before my face” (l. 7), but it is not until the fi nal cou- plet that we learn the cause of the subject’s despair.
ALFRED THE GREAT
His writings on metrics, particularly De metris(On Meters) and De pedum regulis (On the Rules of Feet), outline in great detail the proper ways for poets to con-struct their verse and demonstrate the study of metrics to be both an art and a science. Following the pattern prescribed by the tradition of medieval love poetry, thepoet then discusses the lady’s physical beauty in the second stanza, and the third stanza describes thespeaker’s sleeplessness and torment—his LOVESICKNESS because of his longing for the lady.
Both contribute to the rapid pace of the poem and to the effect hinted at inthe fi rst lines of the poem—that of a lover singing like a bird in the springtime. RENAISSANCE ), allegory In addition to the broad defi nition, by the early modern era (see EARLY MODERN 7 ALLEGORY Understanding allegory as a rhetorical fi gure requires a turn to the rhetorical handbooks of the had acquired a number of specifi c and signifi cant con- notations, which for clarity’s sake have been organizedinto three categories: rhetorical fi gure, interpretive scheme, and narrative text.
For example, in the morality play Everyman (1500), the title character’s name pro-vides a hint that his experiences apply literally to him Allegory, in the broadest sense, refers to any fi gurative, or secondary, meanings thatexist simultaneously with the literal, or primary, mean- ing of a text. Direct evidence that the infl uence of classical rhetoric extended through the early modern period can be seenin the fact that English rhetorical handbooks, includ- ing those by Thomas Wilson (Arte of Rhetoric) andHenry Peacham (Garden of Eloquence), and related works such as George Puttenham’s guide to writingpoetry (A RTE OF E NGLISH P OESIE ) generally do little more than repeat ideas developed by Quintilian or Cicero.
But more recent critics have looked for the logic of the entire piece and explicated it in terms ofrepresentations of human and supernatural time, the IDNEY ’s A STROPHIL AND S TELLA , and it has been P HILIP S IR ics of this work, other poets, tended to focus on certain pieces as the core of their interpretation. In fact, Amoretti(Italian for Cupids) both incorporates and violates the conventions for the lover’s sonnet sequence commonin the 16th century and in Epithalamion (Greek term for a wedding song), which traditionally celebrated thewedding of kings or nobility, and is told from the per- spective of an observer, not the lover himself.
More-over, conventionally, and like W In order for these more recent economic and social analyses of Amoretti to take place, however, some basicinterpretation of the work had to be in place; this includes such analysis as that of the conventions andtheir violations, the time progression, the derivation from Petrarchan forms, the allusions, and the illustra-tions of the Cupid emblem. ( MORETTI See also A Most explications of the Amoretti refer to a conven- tional love-sonnet progression through the stages of alover’s courtship, focusing either on a calendar of days before the actual wedding on June 11, 1594, which isimmortalized in Spenser’s E PITHALAMION , or on the con- stancy of the Lady’s pride and the volatility of thespeaker’s reaction; however, this fi rst sonnet also fore- grounds its contrivance.
14 AMORETTI: SONNET 13
The contrast in thefi rst quatrain is between lines 2 and 3, where the lady’s face rises to the skies but her eyes embrace the earth; thesecond quatrain is an exercise in asserting earthy humil- ity; the third has a 1–2 couplet looking to the divine anda 3–4 couplet decrying earthly imagery such as “drossy slime.” In deliberately using words considered archaiceven in his own time (“drossy slime”), Spenser achieved an atmosphere of age and mystery. Only the SONNET ’s conclusion wrests it from that philosophical dichotomy betweenbase body and elevated mind or spirit, for in the last two lines, the narrator links return to the earth, to thebody, and to the attentions of the poet-lover with his somewhat arrogant claim that his writing will facili-tate her ascent to both spiritual and physical bliss.“To looke on me, such lowlinesse shall make you lofty be” (ll. 13–14).
16 AMORETTI: SONNET 30
Other critics have called attention to the con-trived language, the archaic spellings and diction strongly represented here, especially “desyre,” “iyse,”and “fyre.” Most question whether or not the practice Unlike the usual celebration of the lover’s mortal and senseless suffering, this sonnet ends with the cele-bration of a mystery. Instead of com-paring her to a goddess, as is common in other English sonnets and the Italian predecessors, Spenser keepsthe focus on the woman’s spiritual beauty, a concept that he continues in E PITHALAMION OCTAVE form, setting the situation up in the SONNET ) ETRARCHAN (P TALIAN The poem uses the I AERIE Q UEEN .
18 AMORETTI: SONNET 62
With the image of the “shew ofmorning” in line 3, the speaker brings the larger idea of the new year into focus by minimizing it to the span ofa single day; thus, the sunrise, the start of a new day, is a metaphor for the start of a new year. However,proponents of the Lenten date indicate that the phrase chaunge eek our mynds (l. 6) is extracted from a prayer proper to Lent from the Geneva Bible meaning “to change the mind,” “to be converted,” or “to repent.”Moreover, the religious undertones of the sonnet, as well as of the entire SONNET SEQUENCE , confi rms thepoem’s theological meaning.
20 AMORETTI: SONNET 66
The fi rst two quatrainsplay with the word bond from the phrase bonds of mar- riage—punning on bonds as “bondage” and then mov- ’s Amoretti is a continuance of the argument for marriage that wasoffered in the previous PENSER S DMUND some ways, Sonnet 66 of E (1595) In Melissa FeminoAmoretti: Sonnet 66 (“To all those happy bless-ings which ye have”) E DMUND S PENSER ONNET . In this vein, the tension between mutable human life and love, andbetween the eternity of the Lord’s life and love, is dem- onstrated in each of the fi rst three lines, which refer-ence resurrection and eternal life alongside the potential for the lover and his Lady to “entertayne” (l. 12) eachother.
22 AMORETTI: SONNET 75
Sonnet 80 reveals thewhole to be part of a career path to the status of poet laureate that he charts for himself, a way of claimingaesthetic ground that will grant him a measure of nobility he can never attain on the basis of birth orsocial station. When the opening ques- tion is repeated at the end of the STANZA , the speakeroffers a response on the part of the silent and occluded mistress: “Say nay, Say nay!” (l. 6).
Critics have suggested that manyof the highborn Normans who immigrated to England over the next three centuries may have felt the need todistinguish themselves from their Norman siblings still living on the continent, and that, as a consequence oftheir PATRONAGE , CHRONICLE s, ROMANCE s, and hagiogra- ONQUEST C OR After the N Anne Salo Crane, Susan. The Voyage , whose literary career spanned the rule of three monarchs—Edward III (1327–77),Richard II (1377–99), and Henry IV (1399–1413)— addressed the problem of human sin in the Mirour de G OHN The early 13th century saw a dramatic increase in the production of Anglo-Norman spiritual writings.
Some Anglo-Saxon poems, for example, recount the lives or deeds of important fi g-ures in biblical or church history, but they do so using some of the conventions and language developed insecular heroic verse and are the forerunners of Each half-line contains two accented syllables and a varying number of unaccented syllables. VERNACULAR Moreover, the Chronicles are an important step in estab- lishing the presence of the Several Anglo-Saxon religious poems, with titles such as Genesis A & B, Exodus, and Daniel, consist ofparaphrases of books of the Bible, while others, like“Cædmon’s Hymn” and the well-known The D REAM OF S See also A NGLO -S AXON POETRY .
ANGLO-SAXON RIDDLES (WISDOM POETRY, GNOMIC VERSE)
Other stories of Arthur followed, most notably R OMAN DE B RUT , the A NGLO -N ORMAN poemby W ACE , and Sir Thomas Malory’s Prose work Morte 150 years later, there are two mentions of Arthur in Annales Cambriae (The Annals of Wales), stating that an Arthur was victorious at the Battle of Badon, where he carried the cross of Jesus Christ on his shoulders forthree days, and that at the Battle of Camlann, bothArthur and his son Mordred died. Records from the presumed Arthurian period are so scarce that, like the battle and characters of Troy, itremains diffi cult to discern whether or not the tales of present, however, critics are divided, and there are gen-erally two opposing schools of thought concerning the historical Arthur: those who believe Arthur indeedexisted and those who hold that Arthur serves as some kind of romantic, national symbolic fi gure.
As he matured, he saw him-self as a champion of tradition and as an enemy of those he saw as newly made, many of whom had URREY S , OWARD H ENRY ISCELLANY, 10 years after the execution of Book I, “Of Poets and Poesie,” contains a remarkably credible history of poetry in Greek, Latin, and English. Proportion in fi gure is the composition of stanzas in graphic forms ranging from the rhombus to STANZA , is four to 10 lines that join without intermis- In Book II, “Of Proportion Poetical,” Puttenham compares metrical form to arithmetical, geometrical,and musical pattern.
The poem’s rhyme scheme is that of the E NGLISH The substance and ordering of the 1598 edition is Sonnet 37, the 11th Song, and portions of the EighthSong, placing them at the end of the sonnets, while the 1598 edition distributes the songs throughout the text. What has become the authorized and authoritative versionappeared in the 1598 printing of The Countess of Pem- SONNET SEQUENCE sance verse, is considered the fi rst complete Astrophil and Stella, a monument of English Renais- ’s IDNEY S HILIP part of his reign and who were, to Surrey’s way of thinking, corrupting the king.
ASTROPHIL AND STELLA (OVERVIEW)
While the circumstances portrayed in the sequence do have original aspects, the language Sidneyuses to describe them often makes use of Petrarchan tropes, including, among others, the oxymoron of the“cruel fair,” which identifi es the lady as beautiful but cruelly dismissive of his love; frequent use of the which often subverts or reframes the poem that precedes it. ( STROPHIL AND S TELLA See also A Critical approaches to the poem focus on the sonnet tradition and its philosophical complexities, particu-larly in regard to Petrarch. Since Astrophil says that others’ writing is unfi t for his needs and that the rheto-ric of the form is stale, critics often examine how (and if) Sidney is doing anything new, as he claims.
38 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 2
Most scholars focus on the beginning lines of this sonnet, noting its strong refusal of the Petrarchan com-monplace of “love at fi rst sight.” In the fi rst sonnet of the sequence, Astrophil claims he will not rely on otherauthors for poetic guidance but will look into his own heart for inspiration instead. The narrator says that those who look to the muses andwho do not have moving inspiration as he himself does may fall victim to several circumstances: perhaps thesepoets who rely on the muses will make themselves into“Pindar’s apes” (l. 3), a reference to those who attempted to imitate the great Greek poet Pindar,though the narrator suggests that these “apes” will then have “thoughts of gold” (l.
40 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 7
In the fi rst quatrain, he speaks of theirpractices fi guratively, suggesting that they seek every“spring” that fl ows from Mount Parnassus, the mytho- logical home of the Muses, (inspiration) and “wring”their poetics from every fl ower, “not sweet perhaps,” that grows nearby (ll. The couplet extends the fencing metaphor and con- strains it to an obviously courtly sporting combat,asserting that after it has been struck by Stella’s rays,Reason itself kneels in submission and offers its ser- vices to prove the necessity of loving Stella.
42 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 16
Poison is used as a meta-phor for corruption and sin, an image derived from the story of Adam and Eve, with Astrophil’s knowledge of He questions whether his eyes were “curst or blest” (l.10) when they fi rst beheld Stella, which caused him to fall in love truly; in this, he exploits the fascination withparadox that characterizes 16th-century love poetry, and particularly Petrarchan love poetry. The indolence and loss of pur-pose is concluded and surpassed in line 12 with a suggestion of the speaker’s own damnation: “I see mycourse to lose my self doth bend.” In the loss of his“self,” the speaker implies the loss of his own soul, which is against nature and reason.
44 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 21
In the opening Like most of the sonnets of Astrophil and Stella, Son- net 23 is written in iambic pentameter and follows the In Sonnet 23, Astrophil takes his reader aside for a moment, pointing out all the waysthat “the curious wits” (l.1) misread his moods, before he turns, in a dramatic APOSTROPHE to those who watchhim, to declare his love for Stella. Ultimately, Astrophil links this hidden experience to his thoughts, which he saysaim toward the “highest place” (again, playing on the theme of his self-confessed “ambition”)—that is, “Stel- VOLTA , Astrophil responds to the rumors with At the I TALIAN (P ETRARCHAN ) SONNET form, with a very clear turn at line 9 marking the separation of the OCTAVEfrom the , S Jones, Ann Rosalind, and Peter Stallybrass.
46 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 31
In assuming that the moon, an element of nature, shares the same feelings as he does, the speaker hasfallen victim to the pathetic fallacy, which is one by- product of PERSONIFICATION . DavisAstrophil and Stella: Sonnet 31 (“With how sadsteps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies”) S poems to children, and, extending this metaphor, he asks his audience not to make his “children” into“changelings.” Changelings are the offspring of fairies, left in the place of human children, whom the fairieswould take for their own uses.
48 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 33
In this case, he gives birth to a poem in the form of a riddle for thecourt, the intended audience of the work, making this one of the few poems in the sequence whose intendedaudience is not the beloved. O sleep the certain knot of peace” (l. 1)—the speaker then details the advan-tages of sleeping; it is the state that brings peace, pro- vides a resting place for wit, eases pain, and provideswealth to a poor man and release to a prisoner.
50 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 41
HueyAstrophil and Stella: Sonnet 41 (“Having thisday my horse, my hand, my lance”) S STROPHIL AND S TELLA This poem is an elaboration of the concerns intro- duced in the fi rst poem of the SONNET SEQUENCE . In this poem, however, Sidney sug- gests that Astrophil himself, not Stella, is in control of SONNET ends with the line “I am not I, pitie the tale of ) ETRARCHAN (P TALIAN Thus, the power the fi ctional lovers have over Stel- la’s emotions challenges the type of inspiration thatAstrophil says he will rely on to win her in Sonnet 1.
52 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 49
at line 9, but rather in the witty SESTET and the OCTAVE between the VOLTA unmistakably occurs not NET in form, the ously imagines the struggle between erotic desire and moral injunctions against fulfi lling it as a legal casebetween the personifi ed fi gures of Love and “Vertue”(Virtue). The fi rst quatrain tells the aspects ofAstrophil’s behavior that elicit rumors, and the second quatrain tells us what the rumors are, so that the SONNET theme of what is said about him at court, but unlike sonnets 27 and 28, here Astrophil discusses the gossipof “courtly Nymphs” (the ladies of the court) rather than that of his rivals (l.
54 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 56
In the fi rst half of the OCTAVE , Astrophil complains that the lesson Patience teaches is too long to be mem-orized—to be learned “without booke”—and asserts that he cannot remember the whole thing—Patience’s“large precepts”—because he has not seen his book for an entire week (ll. 2, 4). Most of the critical attention to the poem focuses on its rhyme, which is seen to be ratherstrained, and on the fact that in the fi rst QUATRAIN of IDNEY uses the I TALIAN (P ETRARCHAN ) SONNET form here, and while we fi nd the expected turn IR P HILIP S the ladies say that Astrophil cannot love.
56 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 61
IDNEY , S See also A STROPHIL AND S TELLA ( OVERVIEW ); S The symmetrical paradox of presence and absence created in these three lines suggest a broader shift inhow the language of individual poems contribute to the movement of the series as a whole. Inform and style, it indicates a break from the action of the fi rst two-thirds of the cycle and summarizes whatthe reader may expect from this point on in terms of the subject and function of the poems.
58 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 69
run their race (l. 2) indicates that he sees a “fi nish line” The organization of Astrophil’s argument—from the calm, conventional literary request for mercy andunderstanding, to the tempestuous outburst in lines3–8, to the return to rational discourse, and fi nally to the stingingly vindictive fi nal COUPLET with its under-tones of blame—indicates at once supreme literary control in terms of organization and punctuation, aswell as unsuppressed emotion. E NGLISH SONNET form of three QUATRAIN s and a COUPLET , with a signifi cant variation that creates confl ict betweenthe rhyme scheme and the syntax of the poem: The fi nal line of the third quatrain works with the closingcouplet to provide the resolution of the situation set up in the initial 11 lines.
60 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 72
The sonnet also uses the dichotomy of the two states to represent the divided loyalties of the heart andmind, which in turn can be viewed as symbolic of the maze of sociopolitical alliances of the Tudor court. By employing such a variety of words to express a “faine would have me peace.” In addition, there are sev- eral synonyms for stop in the SESTET , each with its ownvalue and playful quality: silent, peace, cease, stop, and repetitions of kisse and gemmes, and kisse and soules, produce a pattern that emphasizes the speaker’s desireddirection.
62 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 87
This senti-ment echoes both Sonnet 1 and S 90 of Astrophil and Stella, like several earlier poems in the (1, 3, 6,15, and 74), refl ects on the act of writing poetry, serv- ing as a reminder to Astrophil that he writes not only of Stella and her love but for her, too; she is both audi- ence and content. In the absence of the sta- bilizing infl uence of his love for Stella, Astrophil is now“living in blackest winter night,” (l. 13) even while his soul suffers the hellish agony of remembrance of the“fl ame” of his summer’s impassioned “day” (l.
64 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 91
The irony in the last lines is that there is no hidden meaning; the “morall notes” (l. 12)—that is,allegorical interpretations—are really the literal mean- ing, and the unsympathetic observers in the court haveinadvertently provided Astrophil with assistance. Using the parenthetical phrase in line 11, S MENT of the fi rst two “thence”s makes the distance rhythm, as Astrophil intensifi es Grief’s presence by doubling the direct address: “Do thou then (for thoucanst) do thou complaine.” Triple repetitions of “thou” forces the reader’s attention to remain focused on Grief,away from both the speaker and from Stella, who is never mentioned, even implicitly.
66 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 106
Eagerly, Astrophil urges his monarch to send him out to employ his experience, “use” and tal-ents, “art” in the “great cause” of turning his personal passion into some appropriate and legitimate service SONNET ) ETRARCHAN (P TALIAN The opening of this I IDNEY (ca. Sidney’s use of a physical wound as the metaphor for Astrophil’s sorrow again emphasizesthe prominence of the body and desire in the sequence.
68 ASTROPHIL AND STELLA: SONNET 108
SESTET illustrate what happens to Astrophil when, and fi rst part of the OCTAVE The second part of the This I TALIAN (P ETRARCHAN ) SONNET begins withAstrophil describing himself as burdened by the mol- ten lead of sorrow, melted in the heat of his own pas-furnace (“my boyling brest,” l. HardingAUREATION From the Latin aureus for “gold,” aureation is the practice of making language “golden”through the use of elaborate vocabulary and intricate syntax, the result of which is a grandiloquent andornate poetic diction.
AYRE (LUTE SONG)
BALLAD (FOLK BALLADS)
Thus, the medieval and Elizabe-than ballads extant today are only one version of many that once existed. Unlike the similar A ballade is a poem with three STANZA s of seven, eight, or 10 lines, an ENVOI , amd a REFRAIN .
The vitality of the ballad over the centuries suggests the romantic power of the notion that men and womenwill really die for love (although few of them do); this is an extension of the LOVESICKNESS ideal. The variety of locations named (Scarlet Town, the West Country, and ReadingTown, among others), the variety of names given the dying man (Sir John Graeme, Jemmy Grove, WillieGrove, etc.), and the variety of reactions to the situa- tion by Barbara Allen suggest the revisionist workingsof a long oral tradition.
This may be the earliest exam- ple of the loose translation that was to become norma-tive in English translation in the later Renaissance and the attempt to update the translated poem with con-temporary English references. Theseinclude a poem on the siege of Troy which is in the same meter as The Bruce and a Scottish translation ofsome French poems called The Buik of Alexander, but Barbour fi nished his poem around 1376, only about 50 years after the death of his subject.
74 BARNFIELD, RICHARD
Many now believe that the poet’s fi ctitious marriage was created by early biographers to cover upBarnfi eld’s homosexuality, and that instead of living quietly in the country as a country gentleman, he wasreally exiled in disgrace. He does so because of his The poem, which is missing a few lines at both its beginning and end, commences with BYRTHNOTH , theleader of the English force, marshalling his men and issuing instructions in how to best defend the landfrom the Vikings.
BATTLE OF MALDON, THE
Or it could be that the poet believes that Byrthnoth has made a foolish ifhonorable decision to engage the Vikings; Byrthnoth’s sense of military fairness may lead him to believe thatkeeping the Danes bottled up against the coast does not give them a “sporting chance” and was thus anaffront to the English general’s honor. Despite this, though, The Battle of Seeing the death of their leader, a few of the English forces fl ee, but several of the veterans step forward,proclaiming their ancestry and honor, as was typical inOld English poetry, urging the English forces to keep fi ghting; however, as each man rushes into battle, he iscut down by the opposing forces.
For this the poet characterizes him as a good king (l. 12)and continues with the observation that God sent Scyld a son, Beowulf (not the hero of this poem), as a com-fort to the people. One of the thanes of King Hygelac of the Geats(people in southwestern Sweden), the strongest man in the world of his time, hears of the tragedy, and travelsto Denmark.
The news iscarried to the people, and the messenger adds to the report his fears that the Geats will now be subject tothe depredations of both the Franks and the Swedes(ll. 2910–3007). For this reason, the poem is not a heroic poem or an EPIC in any conventional way, and this helps account for what many have noted as the elegiac tone of the verse, especially in the last third of the poem.
However, the Christian ele-ments in the poem, as well as the fact that throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the best opportunities for writ-ing occurred in the context of the cloister, strongly sug- gest a clerical environment. Thus, an author who lived sometime in the sec- ond half of the seventh century was suggested, whetherCaedmon or one of his companions north of the Hum- ber; someone in Theodore’s Canterbury; or A LDHELMof The Beowulf-poet is the an- onymous author of the English EPIC B EOWULF .
When they arrive, the feast resembles the royal banquets of S IR G AWAIN AND THE G REEN K NIGHT and not of the secre- tive and illegal forest feasts Robin and his men orga- nized as a result of poaching. Eventually, after the birth of two sons, a period of sep- aration from Josian, and an eventual reunion, Beviswins back his English lands once more for one of his sons, marries the other off to the daughter of KingEdgar of England, and conquers and converts the king- dom of Mombraunt in the East for himself, where bothhe and Josian die after many years of happy marriage.
In the end, theonly love consistent and laudable in the poem is that between the king and Bisclavret, his loyal knight, andthe wife and knight’s fate is to have some of their off- spring born noseless, leaving them marked with aphysical deformity that signifi es the unchivalrous nature of their ancestors and the base and fl awed sex-ual love through which they were conceived. The arts refl ected a height- ened sense of the inevitability of death, with increaseduse of cadaver images on tombs and church windows, while the popularity of poems such as Danse Macabre(dance of death) and Disputacione betwyx the Body and the Wormes gives testament to the morbid fascination plague survivors had for the dead.
Rather than being sep-arate, the content of the tale foreshadows the moral— for example, in the emphasis placed on the depth of thedungeon, and on the resemblance between the giant’s fi ngernails and “ane hellis cruk.” E SOPE THE P HRYGIAN , since the relationship between tale method here resembles that of his M ORALL F ABILLIS OF BALLAD (see BALLAD STANZA ). In the prologue to L EGEND OF G OOD W OMEN , Queen Alceste includes “the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse” in a list of the male Narrator’s writings (l. 418) and in the (in)famous Retraction to The CANTERBURY T ALES “the book of the Duchesse” (l.
90 BOOK OF THE DUCHESS, THE
Juno sends a messenger to Mor- pheus, the god of Sleep, who then, as per Juno’sinstructions, “crepe[s] into the body” of the dead king(l. 144) and speaks to Alcyone through the corpse to inform her that Seys is dead. By eaves- dropping on the Black Knight’s love plaint, deliveredas an unmelodious LAY , the Narrator discovers theKnight’s love, his “lady bryght” (l. 477), has died—or, rather, this is the information that the Knight unmis-takably discloses, and which the Narrator, for ambigu- ous and ultimately unknowable reasons, somehowforgets, or pretends to forget, as soon as he records it.
92 BORDER BALLADS
His poetry has appealed especially to Englishhave refi ned thee, but not with silver; I have chosen Catholics who see hints of Southwell’s own martyrdom thee in the furnace of affl iction.” Another apocalypticin 1595 in the babe’s suffering.echo is of Revelation 7:14: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Baynham, Matthew. Such variation of expression rum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People, 731).refl ects the multiple perspectives the Germanic Anglo- Bede’s work—and the poem itself—was written origi-Saxons had on the Christian God, and thereby offers nally in Latin; however, the Old English poem is writ-signifi cant insight into the reception and acceptance of ten outside the lined margins of the Latin text and in aChristianity among the newly converted Anglo-Saxons.smaller hand.
IR ULKE REVILLE BARON ROOKE
In addition to its antiquity, the poem is remarkable S F G , B CAELICA for bringing together two different traditions: It expresses (1576–1628) Caelica (“heavenly one”) is frequently Judeo-Christian content in a Germanic poetic form. The described as a .
Gre-ville’s religious and philosophical meditations (Sonnets 82 and 85–109, ca. 1604–28) revisit such preoccupa-tions as idolatry and worldly inconstancy but, more importantly, explore the implications of humanity’sfallen nature, progressively realizing the soul’s state of desolation and recasting absence in cosmic terms as aseparation from divine grace, and demonstrating how faculty of reason makes sense of evil and sin. Relatively fewpoems self-consciously address the writing process itself (see, however, Sonnets 22 and 24), and Greville’swariness of duplicitous Petrarchan love games is refl ected in his own writing and increasing unwilling-ness to allow language and metaphor to obscure the process of self-examination enacted and exhibited inhis poetry.
CANTERBURY TALES, THE (OVERVIEW)
These general themes include a con-cern with the immediate historical context of the late-14th century: human desire (in multiple senses),the nature of love and friendship, and the role of F OR - Scholars continue to debate whether or not Chaucer had these in front of him as he wrote or recalled hear-ing or reading parts of these texts. Genre studies and examinations of poetic devices (e.g., irony, narrative, morals, and so on) fol-lowed, as did a spate of exegetic approaches (see EXE - Of all the manuscripts, the earliest is MS Peniarth392D, National Library of Wales, dubbed the “Heng- wrt manuscript.” Copied around the time of Chaucer’sdeath, it is considered the most authoritative copy of the materials it contains.
Finally, some poets used the carpe diemtradition to focus on mortality and the fl eeting sense of earthly beauty (e.g., The F AERIE Q UEENE : “Gather there-fore the Rose, whilst yet is prime,” 2.12.74–75). In structure, thecarol is related to the BALLAD , the RONDEAU , and the STANZA .
CASKET LETTERS (OVERVIEW) SON-
In 1571, they were printed in a work of anti-Marian propaganda(Detectioun of the duings [doings] of Marie Quene of SESTET SONNET Nation, Court, and Culture: New Essays in Fifteenth-Century Poetry, edited by Helen Cooney, 168–183. in the sonnet preceding this one, Mary aims to per- suade Bothwell of her constancy and her “faythfulnes.”She does so in seemingly contradictory rhetorical terms, offering to utterly subject herself to his will, butalso promising to actively intervene to prove her worth:“In his handis and in his full power, / I put my sonne, my honour, and my lyif, / My contry, my subiects, mysoule al subdewit” (ll. 1–3).
The fi rst poem in the Casket Letters SONNET SEQUENCE , “Ogoddis haue of me compassioun,” has as its theme“constancie.” Reversing conventional gender roles, the female speaker casts herself as desiring subject (ratherthan the object of desire) and lists the various sacrifi ces she is prepared to make to win her love: “she will giveup her funds, reconcile with her enemies, put aside fame and morality, and she will renounce the world”(ll. Again, there is a double entendre: “Encreaseth” may refer to the pregnancy alluded to earlier, as pregnant women were often called “increas-ing.” However, Mary also casts herself in the male role of wooer, urging the beloved to notice her “burning,”or sexual desire.
It is a miscellany of forms such as sapphics (a form usingfour unrhymed lines with the fi rst three in trochaic pentameter), songs, quantitative verses (meter of Clas-sical Greek and Latin poetry that measures the length of time required to pronounce syllables), QUATORZAIN s,and so forth. Fancy hasincited only smoke; he has not been burned or VOLTA The traditional I who served as both lord president of the Marches of Wales and lorddeputy of Ireland, and, for a time, as heir to RobertDudley, earl of Leicester, Sidney had great expectations for himself—and so did others, in England and on theContinent.
A. Ringler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962
The iambic pentameter is consistent, andits rhythms are emphasized by the ALLITERATION As the sonnet opens, the speaker commands the impermanent, mortal love that reaches “but to dust” (l.1) to leave him, and urges his mind to reach up for more elevated, important, and permanent heavenlylove. Some have argued that non-Christian elements in the charms (such as a refer-ence to the Earth Mother in the “For Unfruitful Land” charm and a reference to Woden in the “Nine HerbsCharm”) indicate that some of the charms date from the pre-Christian era.
All of his works are written in the Chaucer’s greatest achievement is the popularizing of the Besides the above, there are only a few other facts known about Chaucer. Then, after quickly mentioning that Tristan and Iseult are destined for suffering and death, Marie provides abit of background to bring us up to the present of the story.
“The Cherry Tree Carol.” On Wolcum Yule: Celtic and British Songs and Carols. On Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativ-ity.
There has been sig- nifi cant debate over whether the hazel stick containsTristan’s name alone, whether the couplet is also to be included, or whether the lengthier sentiment regardingthe hazel and honeysuckle is to be considered part of the writing. Interestingly enough, Iseult is not mentioned by name in the poem (she is called simply “the queen”), and sothe notion of chevrefoil again points to an absence, just as Tristan’s writing speaks concisely of something to bemore fully revealed in Iseult’s heart, and just as the lai briefl y communicates a much fuller experience.
CHIVALRIC OATHS 113
This ideal remained a staple of English cul-ture throughout the Renaissance and later, and although the culture of commerce and trade eventuallybecame the norm, chivalry was revived in the Victorian period as the epitome of noble, Christian behavior. J UDITH or The B ATTLE OF M ALDON , provided a way for The oaths or vows of CHIVALRY have their origins in the Germanic warrior ethos, in which oaths and heroicboasting (and the two were closely linked) were an integral part of the warrior culture; and as such, oathsalso played an integral part in warrior literature.
At times, the rituals of chivalry seem to belittle more than plot devices: All the ritual of the knighting (or “dubbing”) ceremonies, such as confes-sion and vigil, bathing and robing, girding with a sword, and the swearing of vows, are used to drive thenarrative along and provide solemn breaks in the action, a way of resting between battles. All three areas were sometimes grouped together under 116 CHRONICLE An early form of historical writing, possibly associated with the annales of Latin classicalliterature, the chronicle may consist simply of a record of past events that sometimes mixes fact and legendaryfi ction (especially when the record stretches back for a long period of time) or registers the passing of the yearsby showing the annual changes in magistracies or com- puting from the years in a king’s reign.
CLASSICAL TRADITION 117
For Geoffrey and Layamon, creating an associa-tion between the British and the Trojans brought a veneer of respectability to the history of England aswell as historical signifi cance and a heroic, mythical“reality.” The Matter of Troy is the one area of classical allusion in which English literature was most originaland innovative, even if the source material was the usual continental or classical texts. The Matter of Troy makes an early and signifi cant appearance in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the ROMANCE Most classical allusions in medieval and Renaissance literature are found in During the Renaissance, there was a dramatic increase in the number and variety of classical allu-sions as more classical texts were rediscovered and studied and humanism became infl uential.
Most surprisingly, the poet continues by saying that this need not be limited to the state of marriage inorder to be pure; however, this position underscores Preserved in MS Cotton Nero A.x in theBritish Library, Cleanness survives along with three other poems (P EARL , Patience, and S EXEMPLUM ), a series of retold biblical stories that, for the most part, illustrate unclean or sinful behavior. In declaring that beauty “should rise, / Like to the naked morne” (3.2–3), the poet also alludes to the mythical birth of Venus, who in legend rose naked from the sea near Cyprus, animpression strengthened by the reference to “Cyprian fl owers.” The poet, after fl attering his mistress with thiscomparison to Venus, fi nally admonishes her with the reproach of pride.
Forexample, in book 1, Genius illustrates Surquiderie, by which he means lofty, contemptuous pride, with the Taleof Capaneus and with the Trump of Death; he then shows how this sin applies to love in the Tale of Narcis-sus, who was so proud of his own beauty that he thought no woman worthy of him. After treating sight and hearing,Genius abandons his discussion of the fi ve senses and takes up Pride by telling the Tale of Florent, a versionof the loathly lady story also told by G EOFFREY C HAU - CER ’s Wife of Bath in The C ANTERBURY T ALES .
Finally, the manuscripts themselves, whichcontain evidence of the reading practices of the poem’s fi rst readers, continue to generate interest for studies inthe history of reading. In the last 50 years, scholarship has made great progress in placing Gower’s work within medieval lit-erary traditions, especially in its relationships to theBoethian tradition of philosophical consolation, the vernacular French tradition subsequent to the 13th-century Romance of the Rose, and the MIRRORS FOR onto the stage in Pericles (1607?), using Gower’s Apol- lonius of Tyre as a source and also using “Gower” asnarrator.
CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY, THE
The Consolation is prosimetric in style—that is,it alternates verse and prose—and sets forth a conver- sation between Boethius and Lady Philosophy con-cerning the poet’s ill fortune, the problem of evil in the world, and the existence of free will. Rapture is also a central concern ofConstable’s work, which includes Spiritual Sonnets, a PASTORAL version of Venus and Adonis presented as a CANZONE ; the song “Diaphenia”; and four sonnets dedi- cated to the soul of S IR P HILIP S IDNEY , which were attached to an edition of his D AGDALEN Contempt for the world, or the contemptus mundi, is a tradition and a literary themethat originated in Latin religious writing but became a signifi cant presence within U.
CONTEMPT FOR THE WORLD (CON-TEMPTUS MUNDI)
Also, most readers praise the postponement of realization and the poem’sdeliberate steps into the setting before it reveals the fi nal discovery of the stone to illumine the earlier partof the poem, of which the burden reminds one at all times. One surprising and popular reading presents the speaker and weeping maid as Catherine of Aragon,who mourns with a lover’s lament (“lullay”) for her“mak” H Liturgical readings of the carol suggest that it leads the reader to the Eucharist.
COURT CULTURE 129
In essence, courtly love refers to a highly stylized, idealform of love, closely related to the “refi ned love” (fi n’ reference to the curious dynamics of Lancelot andGuinevere’s relationship in A courtly love (amour courtois) in the late 19th century in Gaston Paris coined the term Kimberly Tony Korol Elton, G. Though the poem’s overarching theme is one of Sidney was considered a jewel of the court, and he wrote poems that illuminated the life of both queenand court, notably Sonnet 9 from his A STROPHIL AND IDNEY and S IR W ALTER R ALEIGH .
CROWLEY, ROBERT 131
Queen E LIZABETH I admired the ideals of courtly love so much that she insisted the rhetoric of her court-iers be expressed in amorous terms, resulting in the politicization of courtly love during the Tudor age. The adulterous nature of courtly love stood in direct contrast to the church’s teachings on adultery, butmany scholars believe that the prevalence of arranged marriages required outlets for the expressions of roman-tic love denied within the context of marriage.
A. Wade Razzi
Piers Plowman, the location is used only to situate his “CROWNED KING, THE” A NONYMOUS (1415) The fi rst 42 lines of the poem set up the historical frame, the dream vision, and the attitude of the poettoward his subject. VISION , in which the poet overhears a kneeling cleric clergy, and the peasantry have obligations to their king—an image of the divine “Crowned King,” refer-enced in the poem as Christ—although the poem is more focused on the obligations of the earthly and yetunnamed king, Henry V.
CYNTHIA, WITH CERTAIN SONNETS
Classical allusions abound in the poems, which are set in thetypical conventions of the love sonnet: the alienated and sometimes despondent seeker, Daphnis; the scorn-ful, or at least indifferent, Ganymede; a PLET with “in teares still to be drowned, / When his forms and uses imagery typical of the SONNET originating with P ETRARCH and popularized in England by S IR T HOMAS W YATT and H ENRY H OWARD , EARL OF S URREY . Given that the son-net connects pain and pleasure together with the use of the imagery of war and healing, it seems only appro-priate that the poet closes the poem with the bitter- sweet connections of that characteristic oxymoron.