English Renaissance Poetry: A Collection of Shorter Poems from Skelton to Jonson

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English Renaissance Poetry: A Collection of Shorter Poems from Skelton to Jonson

Post by k-j » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:13 pm

Just finished the anthology of this title selected by John Williams. I suppose it does what it says on the tin, but I've concluded this isn't my favourite period. So much of it is just gauzy lovelorn abstraction and some of the rhyming really is laboured. But here are a few pieces that stood out:

1. Elegy on the Death of Sidney - attributed by Williams to Edward Dyer but seemingly more often to Fulke Greville:


Just a really strong classical heptameter elegy. "Rhyme, the son of rage, which art no kin to skill." Love it.

2. Lyric in the song book of Thomas Morley, author unknown:

In nets of golden wires,
With pearl and ruby spangled,
My heart entangled
Cries and help requires.
Sweet love, from out those briars
But thou vouchsafe to free me,
Ere long, alive, alas, thou shalt not see me.

This is from the section on English madrigal verse and there are several little gems like this. Feels very pure to me, I love the inversion of normal English word order in lines 4 and 7. And the beautiful ells in that long last line.

3. My Picture Left in Scotland, Ben Jonson:


Jonson's poetry is more personal and intimate than that of anyone else in the anthology. He was a bit of a wreck in his latter years and the penultimate line here is simply wonderful. One thing the anthology is full of is creative variation of line-length as seen in this poem.

4. Wyatt. Reading this reinforced my opinion of his genius. Although They Flee From Me:



Tagus, Farewell:


weren't new to me, reading them in context further enhanced my admiration for Wyatt who seems emotionally ahead of his time.

5. George Gascoigne. Never heard of him before. He writes very freely and naturally and seems to have been a nice self-deprecating bloke. Have a look at Gascoigne's Woodmanship:


in which he looks back on his life and rues how he's buggered up everything he's ever tried his hand at.

n.b. anyone know why I can't seem to embed the URL's?
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Re: English Renaissance Poetry: A Collection of Shorter Poems from Skelton to Jonson

Post by Macavity » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:29 pm

Thanks for sharing. Particularly liked the Jonson.

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