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Early renaissance poetry

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The English early renaissance poetry was basically a cultural movement in English from the late 15th to the 17th century. The Elizabethan era in the second half of the 16 century is basically regarded as the height of the English Renaissance.




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Early renaissance poetry

  1. 1. Petrarchism The interesting life of the Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet in Renaissance England: Thomas Wyatt, Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare
  2. 2. Medieval Europe
  3. 3. Medieval Europe
  4. 4. Medieval Europe
  5. 5. Francesca Petrarca (Petrarch) Born in Florence, Italy, in 1304 and died in 1374. Petrarch is credited with introducing the humanist sensibility into the rigid forms of poetry of his predecessors, such as Dante, even though he still maintained a spiritual/religious sense of the world, of worldly matters and of the human, as his predecessors had done.
  6. 6. What is Petrarchism? The term Petrarchism refers to the imitation – whether in verse or prose, directly or indirectly – features in the Italian poetry of Fransesco Petrarca (in English, Francis Petrarch, 1304-1374), who derived his style from classical Latin verse, Occitan troubadour poetry, the Italian Dolce stil nuovo, and his immediate predecessor Dante. Its rhetorical features include metaphorical descriptions of the beloved’s (whether male or female) shining eyes, radiant smile, and physical beauty; exuberant wordplay and figurative conceits; and expressive paradoxes and oxymorons, e.g., “fire and ice,” to express the beloved’s countervailing allure and resistance. Its representational features include avowals of unrequited love and psychological alternations between fleshly desire and forced abstinence. Its structural features include a saturation of forms such as the sonnet, canzone (ode), madrigal, and sestina, and the placement of poems in a sequence with narrative, emotional, or ritual implications. (The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 2012: 1030)
  7. 7. The courtly love sonnet Petrarch’s poetry appeared in a number of forms: the sonnet, the canzone, the madrigal and the sestina. However, the form that appealed to, and was imported into English poetry by, the early English Renaissance poets, such as Thomas Wyatt (1503- 1542) and his friend, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (1517-1547), was the sonnet and, in particular, the sonnet sequence that Petrarch had written for his beloved Laura (historically, a woman he never was involved with). This type of Petrarchan sonnet came to be known as the courtly love lyric, having come from a tradition of troubadour poetry that extolled the virtues of chivalry and the “psychological alternations between fleshly desire and forced abstinence” attending courtly love.
  8. 8. Courtly love A doctrine of love, together with an elaborate code governing the relations between aristocratic lovers, which was widely represented in the lyric poems and chivalric romances of western Europe during the Middle Ages. [. . .] In the conventional doctrine, love between the sexes, with its erotic and physical aspects spiritualized, is regarded as the noblest passion this side of heaven. The courtly lover idealizes and idolizes his beloved, and subjects himself to her every whim. [. . .] The lover suffers agonies of body and spirit as he is put to the test by his imperious sweetheart, but remains devoted to her, manifesting his honor by his unswerving fidelity and his adherence to a rigorous code of behavior, both in knightly battles and in the complex ceremonies of courtly speech and conduct. (Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 1999: 48-49)
  9. 9. On translation In his 1813 essay, “On the Different Methods of Translating,” Friedrich Schleiermacher says “there are only two possibilities” in translation: either the translator “leaves the author in peace as much as possible and moves the reader toward him” or “leaves the reader in peace as much as possible and moves the writer toward him” (2004: 49). In his 1993 essay, “Translation as Cultural Politics: Regimes of Domestication in English,” Lawrence Venuti posits that, translation is a regime of domestication of one text by another, the latter text being in this relation a metalanguage, “a second-order discourse that takes a prior signifying system as its object” (Venuti, 1993: 208). Citing Barthes, Venuti re-asserts the status of “a metalanguage [as] always terrorist” (Barthes, Critical Essays, 1972: 170, quoted in Venuti, 1993: 208).
  10. 10. On translation Margot Livesey, in “‘Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be’: Homage, Appropriation, and Influence,” argues that, a translation necessarily exceeds the bounds of the text to which it pays tribute; as it were, it “speaks back to” the text to which it pays tribute “across centuries” (podcast of her 2012-2013 Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University). The consequences vary: the text of homage, she observes, may “acknowledge the original and depart radically from it,” it may be “subversive” or “playful,” and it may, like James Joyce’s Ulysses, “re-imagine” the original, among other ways of “speaking back to” it (ibid).
  11. 11. Erano I capei d’oro Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi che ‘n mille dolci nodi gli avolgea, e ‘l vago lume oltra misura ardea di quei begli occhi ch’or ne son sὶ scarsi; e ‘l viso di pietosi color’ farsi, non so se vero o falso, mi parea:
  12. 12. Erano I capei d’oro i’ che l’ ésca amorosa al petto avea, qual meraviglia se di sùbito arsi? Non era l’andar suo cosa mortale, ma d’angelica forma, et le parole sonavan altro, che pur voce humana: uno spirto celeste, un vivo sole fu quel ch’i’ vidi; et se non fosse or tale, piagha per allentar d’arco non sana.
  13. 13. Erano I capei d’oro Her golden hair was loosed to the breeze which turned it in a thousand sweet knots, and the lovely light burned without measure in her eyes which are now stingy of it; and it seemed to me her face took the colour of pity: I, who had the tinder of love in my breast, what wonder is it if I suddenly caught fire?
  14. 14. Erano I capei d’oro Her walk was not of a mortal thing, but of some angelic form, and her words sounded different from merely human voice: a celestial spirit, a living sun was what I saw, and if she were not such now, a wound is not healed by the loosening of the bow.
  15. 15. Wyatt: “They Flee From Me” They flee from me that sometime did me seek With naked foot stalking in my chamber. I have seen them, gentle, tame, and meek That now are wild, and do not remember That sometime they put themselves in danger To take bread at my hand; and now they range Busily seeking with a continual change.
  16. 16. Wyatt: “They Flee From Me” Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise Twenty times better; but once in special In thin array, after a pleasant guise When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall, And she me caught in her arms long and small; Therewith sweetly did me kiss, And softly said Dear heart, how like you this?
  17. 17. Wyatt: “They Flee From Me” It was no dream: I lay broad waking. But all is turned thorough my gentleness Into a strange fashion of forsaking; And I have leave to go of her goodness And she also to use newfangleness. But since that I so kindly am served, I would fain know what she hath deserved.
  18. 18. Petrarchan sonnet in England In their separate studies of Thomas Wyatt’s life and his works, Nicola Shulman (Graven with Diamonds, The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Poet, Lover, Statesman, and Spy in the Court of Henry VIII, 2011) and Susan Brigden (Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest, 2012) say, respectively, that Wyatt “bookend the period of England’s political greatness” (Shulman, 2011: 14) and that Wyatt and Henry Howard were “the most excellent makers of their time” (Brigden, 2012: 7).
  19. 19. An Apology for Poetry Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection [to nature], lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or quite anew, forms such as never were in nature, as the Heroes, Demigods, Cyclops, Chimeras, Furies, and such like; so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging only within the zodiac of his own wit. (Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry)
  20. 20. Holbein: Thomas Wyatt
  21. 21. Petrarch: “Amor” Amor, che nel penser mio vive et regna e 'l suo seggio maggior nel mio cor tene, talor armato ne la fronte vene; ivi si loca et ivi pon sua insegna. Quella ch'amare e sofferir ne 'nsegna, e vol che'l gran desio, l'accesa spene, ragion, vergogna, e reverenza affrene, di nostro ardir fra se stessa si sdegna. Onde Amor paventoso fugge al core, lasciando ogni sua impresa, et piange et trema; ivi s'asconde et non appar piu fore. Che poss'io far, temendo il mio signore, se non star seco infin a l'ora estrema? che bel fin fa chi ben amando more.
  22. 22. Petrarch: “Amor” Love, who lives and rules in my thought and holds his chief seat in my heart, sometimes armed comes into my face; and there makes camp and places his banner. She who teaches me to love and suffer, and wants reason, shame, and respect restrain my great desire and burning hope takes offense inwardly at our ardor. Therefore Love, fearful, flees to the heart, abandoning it all, and cries and shakes; he hides himself, and is seen abroad no more. What can I do, when my master is afraid, except stand with him to the bitter end? He makes a fine end, who dies loving well!
  23. 23. Wyatt: “The Long Love” The long love that in my thought doth harbor And in mine heart doth keep his residence, Into my face presseth with bold pretense And therein campeth, spreading his banner. She that me learneth to love and suffer And wills that my trust and lust’s negligence Be raeined by reason, shame, and reverence, With his hardiness taketh displeasure. Wherewithal unto the heart's forest he fleeth, Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry, And there him hideth and not appeareth. What may I do when my master feareth But in the field with him to live and die? For good is the life ending faithfully.
  24. 24. Petrarch: Un Candida Cerva A white doe on the grass appeared to me, With two golden horns, between two rivers, In the shade of a laurel, When the sun was rising in the unripe season. So pleasant-proud was its appearance that I left my work, And, like a miser, in whom the pleasure of hunting the treasure mitigates the inherent vexations, I followed the hind.
  25. 25. Petrarch: Un Candida Cerva "Let no one touch me," she bore Written with diamonds and topazes round her lovely neck. "It has pleased Caesar to make me free.” The sun had reached midday When, my eyes weary but not satiated with gazing, I fell into the water, and the hind disappeared.
  26. 26. Thomas Wyatt: Whoso List to Hunt Whoso List to Hunt Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind, But as for me, alas, I may no more: The vain travail hath wearied me so sore. I am of them that farthest cometh behind; Yet may I by no means my wearied mind Draw from the deer; but as she fleeth afore, Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore, Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, As well as I may spend his time in vain: And, graven in diamonds, in letters plain There is written her fair neck round about: Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am; And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.
  27. 27. Passa la nave mia colma d’obli My ship, full of oblivion, sails on a bitter sea, at winter's midnight, between Scylla and Charybdis: at the helm sits that Lord, or rather my enemy. At each oar there's a cruel eager thought, that scorns the tempest and its end: the sail's torn by an eternal moist wind of sighs, of hopes, and of desire. A rain of tears, a mist of disdain drench and slacken the already tired shrouds, woven from error and ignorance. My two usual guiding lights are so hidden: reason and art so drowned by the waves, that I begin to despair of finding harbour.
  28. 28. My Galley My galley charged˚ with forgetfulness loaded Thorough˚ sharp seas in winter nights doth pass through 'Tween rock and rock; and eke˚ mine enemy, alas, also That is my lord, steereth with cruelness; And every oar a thought in readiness, As though that death were light in such a case. An endless wind doth tear the sail apace Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness. A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain, Hath done the wearied cords great hinderance; Wreathed with error and eke with ignorance. The stars be hid that led me to this pain; Drowned is reason that should me consort, ˚ accompany And I remain despairing of the port. i.e., the god of love. The worn lines of the sail, with a possible pun on the Latin for heart (cor, cordis). I.e., the lady’s eyes.
  29. 29. Aesthetics Aesthetics concerns the unchanging nature of things; it is to be found in the “[t]he distinction . . . between the material and the immaterial: between things and thoughts, sensations and ideas, that which is bound up with our creaturely life as opposed to that which conducts a shadowy existence in the recesses of the mind” (Eagleton, Terry, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, 1990: 13).
  30. 30. Spenser Sonnet 54 Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay, My love lyke the Spectàtor ydly sits Beholding me that all the pageants play, Disguysing diversly my troubled wits. Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits, And mask in myrth lyke to a Comedy: Soone after when my joy to sorrow flits, I waile and make my woes a Tragedy.
  31. 31. Of This World’s Theatre Yet she beholding me with constant eye, Delights not in my merth nor rues my smart: But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry She laughes, and hardens evermore her hart. What then can move her? if nor merth nor mone, She is no woman, but a senceless stone.
  32. 32. Sonnet 75 One day I wrote her name upon the strand, But came the waves and washèd it away: Agayne I wrote it with a second hand, But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray. Vayne man, sayd she, that doest in vaine assay, ˚ attempt A mortall thing so to immortalize, For I my selve shall lyke to this decay, And eek my name bee wypèd out lykewize.
  33. 33. Spenser Not so (quod I), let baser things devize To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame: My verse your vertues rare shall eternize, And in the hevens wryte your glorious name. Where whenas Death shall all the world subdew, Our love shall live, and later life renew.
  34. 34. Walter Ralegh Sir Walter Ralegh Ca. 1552 – 1618 A Vision upon the Fairy Queen Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay, Within that temple where the vestal flame Was wont˚ to burn; and, passing by that way, accustomed To see that buried dust of living fame, Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept: All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen; At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept, And, from thenceforth, those Graces were not seen: For they this queen attended; in whose stead Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse: ˚ tomb Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed, And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce: Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief, And cursed the access of that celestial thief. 1590
  35. 35. Ralegh This poem appeared in both the 1590 and the 1596 editions of Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. The woman to whom the Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374) addressed his sonnet sequence; with a pun on “laurel,” a symbol of poetic achievement. The sacred fire, guarded by virgin priestesses, in the temple of Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth; thus an allusion to Laura’s chastity and purity. I.e., Love and Virtue. Ghost of the ancient Greek poet credited with composing the Iliad and the Odyssey.
  36. 36. With how sad steps Sir Philip Sidney 1554 – 1586 FROM ASTROPHIL AND STELLA Sonnet 31 With how sad steps, Oh Moon, thou climb'st the skies, How silently, and with how wan˚ a face! pale What, may it be that even in heav’nly place That busy archer his sharp arrows tries? Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case;
  37. 37. Philip Sidney I read it in thy looks: thy languished grace, To me that feel the like, thy state descries. ˚ reveals Then, even of fellowship, Oh Moon, tell me, Is constant love deemed there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they above love to be loved, and yet Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? Do they call virtue there ungratefulness? I.e., Cupid. I.e., do they give the name of virtue to ungratefulness?
  38. 38. A strife is grown Sonnet 52 A strife is grown between Virtue and Love, While each pretends˚ that Stella must be his: claims Her eyes, her lips, her all, saith Love, do this, Since they do wear his badge, most firmly prove. But Virtue thus that title doth disprove: That Stella (O dear name) that Stella is That virtuous soul, sure heir of heav'nly bliss, Clothing or device worn to identify someone’s (here Cupid’s) servants.
  39. 39. Philip Sidney Not this fair outside, which our hearts doth move. And therefore, though her beauty and her grace Be Love's indeed, in Stella's self he may By no pretense claim any manner˚ place. kind of Well, Love, since this demur˚ our suit will stay, ˚ objection/detain Let Virtue have that Stella's self; yet thus, That Virtue but that body grant to us. Clothing or device worn to identify someone’s (here Cupid’s) servants.
  40. 40. Spenser Sonnet 15 Ye tradefull Merchants that with weary toyle, Do seeke most pretious things to make your gain: And both the Indias of their treasures spoile, What needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine? For loe my love doth in her selfe containe All this worlds riches that may farre be found,
  41. 41. Spenser If Saphyres, loe hir eies be Saphyres plaine, If Rubies, loe hir lips be Rubies sound: If Pearles, hir teeth be pearles both pure and round; If Yvorie, her forhead yvory weene; If Gold, her locks are finest gold on ground; If silver, her faire hands are silver sheene; But that which fairest is, but few behold, Her mind adornd with vertues manifold.
  42. 42. Shakespeare: Sonnet 130 My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.
  43. 43. Shakespeare: Sonnet 116 Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
  44. 44. Shakespeare: Sonnet 116 Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

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