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Defence of Poesie, Astrophil and Stella, and Other Writings

de Philip Sidney

Altres autors: Elizabeth Porges Watson (Editor)

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Sidney was one of the most important writers of the English Renaissance, and Astrophel and Stella is one of the most outstanding sonnet sequences in the English language. In Defense of Poesie, Sidney examines the status of poetry in England.
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This Everyman publication features much of Sidney’s best poetry. It contains a complete version of Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, his ‘The Defence of Poesie’, Two Pastorals, Certain other sonnets and some selections from his translation of the Psalms of David and The Lady of May. None of this was published during his lifetime but much of it would have existed in manuscript form and been read by his circle of friends. The Lady of May was written to entertain Queen Elizabeth on one of her summer progresses when she visited the Earl of Leicester at Wanstead.

Sidney’e Defence of Poesie was written as a response to Stephen Gosson ’s `[school of Abuse: containing a pleasant invective against poets, pipers, players and jesters’]…………. Gosson had dedicated his pamphlet to Sidney no doubt thinking that Sidney’s puritan views would coincide with his own and no doubt he was correct in thinking that Sidney would also condemn lewdness and social abuse in literature. He was however wide of the mark in lumping poets in amongst the pipers, players and jesters as Sidney makes clear in his defence. Sidney believed that poetry was the highest art form in literature and would not only delight the reader but also teach him moral virtue:

“I affirme, that no learning is so good as that teacheth and moveth to vertue, and that none can both teach and move thereto so much as Poetry”

The Defence as one would expect quotes examples from antiquity whilst arguing against Plato for banishing poets from his republik. It examines other forms of literature particularly history and philosophy, maintaining that this writing does teach, but usually fails to move the reader. According to Sidney poetry can in fact enhance both subjects. He briefly mentions English poetry that he admires: Chaucer’s Troylus and Cressida, the Mirror for Magistrates collection, Earl of Surrey’s lyrics and Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calender, before plunging into a denunciation of much of English drama. Sidney argues his points well and keeps his prose lively and entertaining. This Everyman edition has plenty of clear notes to assist the reader.

The Lady of May is an entertainment written in the pastoral tradition and flows well, there is poetry and music and of course the star of the show is Queen Elizabeth herself who makes the final adjudication between the two suitors for the hand of The Lady of May. While there are no direct political references the morale of the little play would not have been lost on the courtiers and their followers. I have previously read Sidney’s wonderful sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella and it is good to now have the poems in a printed version.

Certain Sonnets contains some gems which are not found in Astrophil and Stella, for example:

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.

Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might,
To that sweet yoke, where lasting freedoms be:
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us sight to see.

O take fast hold, let that light be thy guide,
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide,
Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath.
Then farewell world, thy uttermost I see,
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.

The two Pastorals are also charming being dedicated to Friends and fellow poets: Sir Edward Dyer and Faulke Greville and take friendship as a theme. This is a very good collection of Sidney’s poetry, well set out with adequate notes and a retention of Sidney’s original spelling, although the letters of the alphabet take the modern form. A good introduction goes to make this a five star publication. ( )
2 vota baswood | Mar 10, 2019 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Sidney, Philipautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Watson, Elizabeth PorgesEditorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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Sidney was one of the most important writers of the English Renaissance, and Astrophel and Stella is one of the most outstanding sonnet sequences in the English language. In Defense of Poesie, Sidney examines the status of poetry in England.

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