- Slides: 14
The Renaissance Poetry Renaissance poetry: the sonnet and major poets
Rules of Decorum • The rules of Decorum were adopted from ancient Greece and Roman Literatures. • They dictate that a poem has to use a regular form. • Language should be sophisticated/embellished. • Subject matters/themes should be elite/universal truths. • The aim of poetry was to teach/educate and delight/please. • That meant poetry was written by the elite and for the elite. • The rules were “strictly” followed during the Elizabethan age, 17 th and 18 th centuries.
The Sonnet • Poetry developed substantially during the Renaissance at the level of form and theme. • Poems are no longer narrative nor long. • The major form of poetry during the Renaissance is known as the sonnet. • The sonnet is not an original English form of poetry but it is Italian. • The first sonnets of English were named Petrarchan after the Italian poet Petrarch.
The Sonnet • They were 14 -line ten-syllable poems that had two main stanzas the octave (the first eight lines) followed by the answering sestet (the final six lines). • The rhyme scheme of Petrarchan sonnet was abba cdecde (or cdcdcd). • The argument/problem of a poem was presented in the octave in Italian sonnet, and the solution was at the sestet after a turn called Volta. • Sir Thomas Wyatt was the first to introduce the sonnet into English as mere translations of Italian sonnets.
The Sonnet • Henry Howard, Earl of Surry, tried to develop the Italian sonnet to seem English. • The sonnets of Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard were published between the 1530 s and 1540 s in an anthology called Tottel’s Miscellany. • Some poems like Edmund Spenser tried to develop the sonnet, but the most recognized contribution was Shakespeare’s.
The Sonnet • New themes like courtly love, regeneration and rebirth, the mutability of life, and death started to emerge in poetry. • Elizabethan or English sonnet is a 14 -line ten-syllable poem written in iambic pentameter. It has three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. • A quatrain consists of four poetic lines.
Shakespearian sonnets • Shakespearian sonnet is divided into three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. The resolution of the main argument is introduced in the couplet. • So, Shakespeare developed the Italian sonnet. • The rhyme scheme of Shakespearian sonnet is abab, cdcd, efef, and gg • Major Shakespearian themes: platonic love, passage of time, and death.
Sonnet 144 Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman coloured ill. To win me soon to hell, my female evil Tempteth my better angel from my side, And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, Wooing his purity with her foul pride. And, whether that my angel be turn’d fiend, Suspect I may, yet not directly tell, But being both from me both to each friend, I guess one angel in another’s hell. Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt, Till my bad angel fire my good one out.
Sir Philip Sidney 1554 -1586 • The first major poet of the Renaissance was Sir Philip Sidney 1554 -1586. • He was an ideal Renaissance figure: a man, soldier, a man of learning, and a romantic lover. • Sidney died young at 32. That created a romantic image of him. • Astrophel and Stella is full idealized love for Stella but the poet can never have her.
Sir Philip Sidney 1554 -1586 Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust; And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things; Grow rich in that which never taketh rust; Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings. üWhat is theme in these lines? üHow does the poet reflect the spirit of Elizabethan poetry in these lines?
Edmund Spenser (1552 -1599) • Spenser was known as the Prince of Poets in the Elizabethan Age. • He was a controversial figure: someone with new ideas or a writer who tried to please/flatter his superiors. • He wanted to take his place in the English tradition of poetry like Chaucer. • The Faerie Queen (the 1590 s) is his great national epic to celebrate Queen Elizabeth for the sense of national identity it communicates.
Edmund Spenser (1552 -1599) • He used a new verse form of stanzas on 9 lines rhyming ababbcbcc. It was an attempt to develop the Italian sonnet. • The Faerie Queen is the most important poem in English since Chaucer. • It celebrates Queen Elizabeth as Gloriana, the national heroine who brings peace and wealth to the nation. Sweet Thames! Run softly, till I end my song. This line, from “Prothalamion” (1596), is one of Spenser’s best -known lines.
Marlowe as a poet • Most of the playwrights of the Elizabethans and Jacobean age wrote poetry as well as plays. • However, they did not publish their works but showed them to a small circle of friends and admirers. • So, many poets who are now regarded as the great poets of the Jacobean age were not very well known as poets during their lifetime
Marlowe as a poet Come live with me and be my love. And we will all the pleasures prove. (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)