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Elizabethan Poetry Essay

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It was during the Elizabethan age that England felt the complete effect of the Renaissance. There occurred a revival of the old and classical literature of Greece and Rome and this was manifested in the poetry of the age. The Elizabethan age was characterized by an extreme spirit of adventure, aestheticism and materialism which became the characteristic features of Elizabethan poetry. Many poets displayed their skill in versification during this time and England came to be called The Nest Of Singing Birds.

Wyatt and Surrey

In 1557 Tottel printed A Miscellany of Uncertain Authors commonly known as Tottel's Miscellany. Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 42) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47) made valuable contributions to this anthology. Wyatt transplanted the sonnet form from Italy to England.Both Wyatt and Surrey wrote sonnets based on the Petrarchan model, the form which immortalized by Shakespeare and Milton. They brought the theme romantic personal love in poetry to Britain. Surrey translated the Aeneid of Virgil into English.

Edmond Spenser (1552-99)

The publication of Spenser's The Shepherds Calendar (1579) marked the beginning of the golden age of Elizabethan Literature. The

Shepherds Calendar is a pastoral poem and in it Spenser follows the models set by the Greek poets, Theocritus and Virgil. It has into twelve divisions, one for each month of the year. The poet also deals with moral questions and discusses the religious issues of the day from the standpoint of a strong Protestant. Such conventional pastoral imagery was again used in Astrophel an elegy on the death of Sir Philip Sidney. His Four Hymns in honour of love and beauty shows his wonderful power of melodious verse. His Amoretti is a series...


... middle of paper ...


...e during the Renaissance. They translated Virgil, Ovid, Cicero,Plutarch, Dante, Tasso, Ariosto, Boccacio and Petrarch. But the Elizabethans added their zest and zeal to their poetry.

The poets used words with skill inorder to paint portraits of nature and art. Though the poetry of the Elizabethan Age is charged with lack of passion it surely does not lack vitality and beauty. Thus with these poets ended what is known as The Great Age of Britain's Literature.

Compton-Rickett, A. A History of English Literature. London: Thomas Nelson

and Sons Ltd, 1947.

Hudson, William H. An Outline History of English Literature. Bombay: B. I.

Publications, 1964.

Wilson, John B. English Literature: A Survey for Students. London: Longmans,

Green and Cook Ltd, 1964.


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