Eng 20450 Renaissance Literature Group: The Tudors sgt: Wednesday, 10: 00, B101 Tutor: Dr. Jane Grogan




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ENG 20450

Renaissance Literature

Group: The Tudors

SGT: Wednesday, 10:00, B101

Tutor: Dr. Jane Grogan

08798176 06491618 09250875

08486247 08558540

Renaissance Love Poetry:
A Teaching Anthology

Rationale & Editorial Policy: 2,463 words

Contents

Introduction & Editorial Policy 3
William Shakespeare - ‘Sonnet 29’ 9
Thomas Campion – (Untitled) 11
Richard Lovelace – ‘To Lucasta, Going To The War’ 13
Ben Jonson – ‘To Celia’ 15
Christopher Marlowe - ‘The Passionate Shepherd to his Love’ 17
Sir Walter Raleigh – ‘The Nymphs Reply to the Shepherd’ 19
Richard Barnfield – ‘The Affectionate Shepherd’ 21
John Donne – ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’ 23

Ben Jonson – ‘The Dreame’ 25
George Turberville – ‘Let Reason Rule’ 27
Katherine Philips – ‘An Answer to another persuading a Lady to Marriage’ 29
Edmund Spenser - Sonnet 23 31
Isabella Whitney – ‘To her Unconstant Lover’ 33
Sir Thomas Wyatt – ‘That Faith is Dead, and True Love Disregarded’ 35
John Donne – ‘The Broken Heart’ 37
Bibliography 39

In his mock-manifesto, Personism, the American poet Frank O’Hara writes, “Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don't give a damn whether they eat or not. Forced feeding leads to excessive thinness (effete). Nobody should experience anything they don't need to, if they don't need poetry bully for them.” In some sense our anthology considers seriously the undercurrents of this comical musing, namely the notion that poetry should take an active role in its own self-preservation. Our ambition for our anthology is that it might serve as the definitive collection of Renaissance Poetry best suited for teaching; this anthology strives for accessibility and an enjoyable, engaging classroom experience in which all students can approach the text from the same angle. We feel confident that this will act as an antidote to “force feedings.”

Our editorial policy flows organically from this aspiration for accessibility. Language and punctuation have been modernized, so long as they do not interfere with the poem’s original meter and rhyme. In Spenser’s Sonnet 23, for example, “worke” has been changed to “work,” but “unreave” has not been changed to “unravel” because it would then cease to rhyme with “deceive.” Since unreave is an archaic term, we have provided a footnote explaining its meaning, so that students of Renaissance poetry might focus their attention on the verse’s figurative meaning, instead of its literal meaning. Our method for determining whether or not a word requires a foot-note is fairly straight forward: if five second-years are unfamiliar with it, a first-year probably will be as well.

We have expended great care to ensure the rhyme and meter of these poems are maintained because we feel this beautiful aural quality of this period’s poetry plays a significant role in their lasting appeal. However, we seize upon any opportunity to make the poetry more accessible – even Shakespeare has not escaped this policy (the “bootless cry” in Sonnet 29 is now a “useless cry”). If semi-colons do not separate two independent clauses, we have transformed them into commas.

Line numbers appear every 5 lines, so as to not overcrowd the margins of the text. Hopefully students’ will use this free space to scribble some annotations. The right margin records the rhyme scheme. We believe this will encourage students to compare and contrast the formal qualities of different poems, an important exercise which is often overlooked.

The notes on the page after the text are in the form of questions, a format we believe to be most conducive to lively class discussions. It seems as if students’ analytical abilities and in-class comments improve if textual notes direct their attention to points of interest beforehand. While our questions suggest points of interest and we do hope they lightly push first-years in the direction of the most rewarding interpretation, they are not overly analytical – Renaissance poetry should be accessible, but it should not read itself. For instance, in our notes following Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, we direct the readers’ attention to the “Lark” reference in hopes that they might consider that the Sonnet is not just about love of a person, but also a love of poetry, which is frequently represented in verse by a songbird.

In line with our goal of accessibility and teach-ability, our selection aims to achieve a high degree of inter-textual relatedness -- each poem falls under the thematic category of “love.” But our poetry selection also aims to bring out the great diversity of sub-themes within that genre. Some deal with love expressed through pastoral language and some explore the consequences of unattainable love. Some of the poet’s names are instantly recognizable (Shakespeare, Donne, Wyatt, Spenser, Marlowe) while some are more obscure. Some are “effective” love poems, while others suffer from overly vaguely language. A wide variety of forms, dictions, and preconceptions about love are all expressed in hopes that through this, students will obtain a holistic understanding of Renaissance poetry. On the page that contains the questions we have also added short introductions that explain which sub-theme the poem falls under as well as any other critical concepts that it may relate to.

We choose love because it is, of course, a timeless theme, and one that can never seem completely irrelevant or inaccessible to the mind of an eighteen year old, unlike, say, sixteenth century politics. However, we hope that this anthology will spark an interest not only in the literature itself, but the context in which it was created.

During the Renaissance period, the majority of the British population was engaged in small scale agriculture. At the beginning of Henry VII’s reign, in 1485, less than one tenth of the population lived in cities. Society was dominated by rural activities and farming was a way of life for most. Some of the poems in this anthology are reflections of this agricultural based society. “The passionate shepherd to his love” is a well known example of a typical pastoral poem from this period. Pastoral poetry such as this usually romanticised the notion of herding livestock across what was left of the common land. Sir Walter Raleigh’s reply to this poem, “The Nymph’s reply to the Shepheard” reiterates in this anthology, the huge significance of farming during the renaissance period. As enclosure, that is, the closing in of this common land by land owners, was becoming increasingly popular throughout the sixteenth century, many poorer families were confined to smaller plots of land. This led to people and animals sharing living quarters and it was not uncommon for the less well off in society to eat and sleep side by side with livestock. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that pastoral poetry was quite common, as it reflects the dominant livelihood for people of this period in British history. For this reason, it is detrimental to include such poetry in a collection of Renaissance verse.

There is no doubt that Renaissance society attributed superior status to men. Due to high illiteracy rates among women, there is far less published poetry from females of the period. Instead, they were the object of many poems throughout the age. However, included in this anthology is a poem by Katherine Philips. In writing her poem “An answer to another persuading a Lady to Marriage” she sets out some advice for a successful courtship. This poem would have been conceived as very unusual in its day, demonstrating that a poem on advice from a woman was not very popular or typical.

Another aspect of society which permeated its way into literature was the new and exciting idea of colonialism. In the poem “To his Mistress going to Bed,” John Donne draws parallels between the female body and the discovery of new lands. This poem, displaying sexual love and desire, is a testament to the fact that the prospect of a new, unexplored land played heavily on minds in the seventeenth century. Through the symbolic imagery, it is possible to come to a number of interpretations of what Donne’s thoughts were on the emerging colonies. Did they pose as a land to be explored and enjoyed or was there something more sinister behind the expeditions to new land, perhaps to conquer and destroy? This poem can act as a starting point from which to explore the intricate thoughts and desires of Renaissance Britain in light of such possibilities.

The two most prominent literary influences on the writing of the English Renaissance were the works of Classical writers and that of the 14th Century Italian poet, Petrarch. From Classical writers, Renaissance poets borrowed strict formal methods as regarding rhyme and meter. When composing, a poet was afforded greater authority over his work due to the amount of control exerted over his material. Conversely, it could be argued that authorship was reduced as the poet was following guidelines set out by Classicists and earlier Renaissance poets. Paradoxes such as these highlight the ambiguous stance of a poet in society – particularly in concern to gender issues. The strong emphasis on the amount of power the poet has is an important notion. A poet hoped to assert his masculinity through the formation of a poem – particularly in set forms such as the sonnet. The power and control taken from practices of Classical Literature is an important constituent in the widespread adaptation of the Petrarchan love complaint poem, as the two influences are often interdependent yet form an uneasy relationship.

The influence of Petrarch was instrumental in the creation of love poetry in 15th and 16th Century England. The poetry of Petrarch, however, presents the male in an immasculated capacity. The poet’s unrequited love reveals failure on his part. However, this immasculation is counteracted by the potence of writing. “If storytelling is an assertion of male power, what happens when a man tells stories about his own defeat?” (Dubrow, Heather. Echoes of Desire: English Petrarchism and its Counterdiscourses London: Cornell University Press. 1995. p.3) The poet may not have control over his love object, but he does have control over the presentation of his situation.

This raises the issue of gender distinctions and struggles in the era. Women writers were allocated a diminished role. They employed the tools of men to express desires and feelings in a manner that was not deemed appropriate. Women who wrote were often associated with promiscuity and lack of morals, therefore when a woman chose to publicly circulate her work it was quite a radical decision. As the majority of literature was written by men, women who adopted and adapted common conventions were inhabiting the world of men, For example, Isabella Whitney’s ‘To her Unconstant Lover’ presents a female voice as filtered through the Petrarchan model of complaint and persuasion. The feminine voice embodies the greatest amount of power in this example as it is she who is directing the play of events in the poem, and attempting to use cunning and charm to manipulate a weak-minded man. This is similar to Richard Barnfield’s ‘The Affectionate Shepherd’, which completely subverts the idea of omnipotent masculinity by redefining gender roles and challenging the norms of sexual desire. “Daphnis’s despair is then juxtaposed with the expression of overt eroticism, resulting in a fusion of pleasure and anxiety, twin concomitants of desire.” (Borris, Kenneth & Klawitter, George (eds.) The Affectionate Shepherd: Celebrating Richard Barnfield U.S.A.:Rosemont Publishing. 2001. p.132)

Points such as these highlight the fact that ‘love’ poetry does not necessarily have anything to do with romantically reciprocated love between a man and a woman. The definition of the term ‘love poetry’ is veiled by ambiguities. It can often be difficult to distinguish “whether we have to do with the imitation of literary models…or whether actual feeling is speaking.” (Giantvalley, Scott. ‘Barnfield, Drayton and Marlowe: Homoeroticism and Homosexuality in Elizabethan Literature’ in Pacific Coast Philology Vol. 16 #2 1981. p.10) Poems may be used as a vehicle for expression - not merely private sentiment, but public discourse. The poets of the Renaissance adapted and reconstructed traditional ides of convention in order to create works of art which not only have an aesthetic value, but are reflection/ rejections of society and its pervasive ideologies.

The Renaissance is a fascinating period regarding the influential nature of the political and the historical issues encompassing the time. The literature of the time surrounds itself in this and provides a surviving guide to issues prevalent during this particular period. Much of the access to such knowledge may be awarded to the massive surge in the use of the printing press to circulate works. The printing press, while at the time was seen as an obtuse manner to circulate works for the highly regarded literary mechanics at the time, enabled future readers admission to a crucial historical period.

The printing press also allowed for a discourse between poets, as seen in the poems by Marlowe and Raleigh listed later in the anthology. Poets through this medium often attempt to display poetic authority over others to insure a strong position within the literary world. It is evident from such work available that there was an omnipresent culture of competition within the literary market at the time.

This competition was also met with elements of frustration from a different perspective; this is thought to relate to the question of having a female ruler of the country, Queen Elizabeth. In a time where society was dominated by patriarchy Queen Elizabeth was considered weakening in the chain of command. The thought of having to adhere to a Queen was ubiquitous through literature. From further reflection on many poems during the episode of Elizabeth’s reign the presence of frustration felt with a female is frequently thought to relate to that felt of the rule of the Queen. The secretiveness of such within poetry is to allow the author address the monarchy in such a way that does not compromise not only their profession, but also their lives. Writers did no fail to notice the potential flaw of the new form of government, but acknowledged such at their discretion (Poplawski, p. 172).

The political events that were present at the time have also a hand to play in the literary make up of the Renaissance period. Many writers expressed their stance within the political turmoil that faced the era; Richard Lovelace for example displayed a patriotically fuelled poem ‘To Lucasta, Going to the Wars’. Within this poem he portrays his love and support for his country, however, this viewpoint was not adopted by others. The political unrest that occurred as a result of the many growing tensions in 1642 gave rise to many conflicting ideas across England. The political obedience that was enforced, the resistance to such and the constant association between the political and the religious inspired a considerable amount of literature during the Renaissance (Poplawski, p.171).

The period is abundant with historical issues that had a massive influence on the literary during its time. Availability to such knowledge has enabled us as readers to read further into a text and understand it through the concerns of the time, facilitating a clear and cohesive interpretation of the market at the time.

The poetry of love is challenging. Poets are continually faced with the dilemma of how best to present fragmentary and fluxating emotions within the boundaries of language and poetic convention. Our selection is intended to have displayed in a cohesive manner the way in which poets of the Renaissance interacted with their social and cultural milieu. By tracing love poetry from William Shakespeare’s uplifting appraisal of love to John Donne’s broken heart, we hope to have explored the exciting and innovative canon of literature created by those who shaped the evolution of the English language.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Sonnet 29


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When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweepe my out-cast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my useless cries,

And look upon my self and curse my fate.

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least,

Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the Lark at break of day arising)

From sullen earth sings hymns at Heaven’s gate,

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,

That then I scorn to change my state with Kings.


6 Featured: Shaped, formed.


7 Scope: Outlook.
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William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Sonnet 29
This poem deals with the redemptive quality of love – love that can ameliorate the daily sufferings of an artist. It does not deal with the issue of unrequited love, but instead a love that has been attained yet seems to have been forgotten amid the a whirlwind of frustrations. It contains several of the hallmark characteristics of a Shakespeare’s sonnets, such as its strict iambic pentameter and use of quatrains, yet it is also an extremely unique Shakespearean sonnet in its fairly muddled rhyme scheme.
Questions:


  • How does the choice of the word of “trouble” contribute to the sense of helplessness in this poem?




  • Does this reference to “the Lark” add an additional dimension to the poem?




  • What role does the theme of Christianity play in this poem? Is Heaven really “deaf” here?




  • Why is the word “state” repeated?



Thomas Campion (1567 - 1620)
[Untitled]


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Silly boy, ‘tis full the moon yet, thy night as day shines clearly;

Had thy youth but wit to fear, thou couldst not love so dearly.

Shortly wilt thou mourn when all thy pleasures are bereaved;

Little knows he how to love that never was deceived.

This is thy first maiden flame, that triumphs yet unstained;

All is artless now you speak, not one word yet is feigned;

All is heaven that you behold, and all your thoughts are blessed,

But no Spring can want his Fall, each Troilus hath his Cresseid.
Thy well-ordered locks ere long shall rudely hang neglected,

And thy lively pleasant cheer read grief on earth dejected.

Much then wilt thou blame thy Saint, that made thy heart so holy,

And with sighs confess, in love, that too much faith is folly.


Yet be just and constant still, Love may beget a wonder,

Not unlike a Summer’s frost, or Winter’s fatal thunder:

He that holds his sweetheart true unto his day of dying

Lives, of all that ever breathed, most worthy the envying.

6 Feigned: pretend or invent something
8 Trolius, Cresseid: ‘Trolius and Cressida’ the name of a Shakespeare tragedy.
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Thomas Campion (1567 - 1620)
[Untitled]
This poem is an extract from a selection of lyric poems written by Campion titled ‘Third Book of Ayres’, published in 1617. The poem is meant as a warning to young men that falling in love and getting hurt goes hand in hand. ‘Silly boy’ presents not only the idyllic nature of love, but also reflects upon the wary attitude held towards women during this period. The poem offers a reflection on the cultural attitudes held during the Renaissance period, presenting gender relations held between man and women; and how such may be depicted through poetry.
Questions:

  • Does this poem provide an accurate insight into romantic relationships during this period?



  • How are women depicted throughout this poem?



  • In what way does this poem being presented in the form of a lyric represent the nature of the poem?



Richard Lovelace (1618 - 1658)

To Lucasta, Going To The War


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Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,

That from the nunnery

Of thy chaste breast, and quiet mind,

To war and arms I fly.


True, a new mistress now I chase,

The first foe in the field;

And with a stronger faith embrace

A sword, a horse, a shield.


Yet this inconstancy is such,

As you too shall adore;

I could not love thee, Dear, so much,

Loved I not honour more.

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Richard Lovelace (1618 - 1658)

To Lucasta, Going To The War
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars was written in 1640. It is among a collection of poems ‘Lucasta’, written to a woman, Lux casta, with whom he was believed to have a relationship with. It is a poem highly patriotically charged, stemming from Lovelace’s personal regard for his country.

Much of Lovelace’s work draws upon his personal relation to the political occurrences during his lifetime. ‘To Lucasta, Going to the Wars’ is no exception to this. This poem is an example of the way in which poet’s used their work to exhibit their political stance at the time. Lovelace through this poem not only demonstrates love for a lady, but also establishes his political position as devoted countryman. This poem thus not only encompasses the theme of love but, as much of the poetry is renowned for at the time, develops upon the broader political issues to enable a further insight into the concerns seizing this period in question.


Questions:

  • Does this poem provide an accurate insight into the political issues at the time?



  • Do you consider the depiction of honour before love a fair distinction of the attitudes of men during the period?



  • Is this poem representing a contradictory position; in such that the poet demonstrates his undying love for honour but sacrifices his commitment to Lucasta in pursuit of it?


Ben Jonson (1572 - 1637)
To Celia



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Drink to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine;

Or leave a kiss but in the cup

And I'll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise

Doth ask a drink divine;

But might I of Jove's nectar sup,

I would not change for thine.


I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

Not so much honoring thee

As giving it a hope that there

It could not wither'd be;

But thou thereon didst only breathe

And sent'st it back to me;

Since when it grows,

and smells, I swear,

Not of itself, but thee!


7 Jove: A poetical equivalent of Jupiter, name of the highest deity of the ancient Romans.

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