By Emrys Jones
The 16th century has lengthy been said the "Golden Age" of English verse--with such names as Shakespeare, Donne, and Spenser to its credits it could actually rarely be differently. but this anthology, including either undisputed masterpieces and achievements in hitherto overlooked fields, is the 1st to bare the total diversity and variety of the century's poetic riches. What emerges is the main entire photograph to be had of the poetic energy of the 16th century.
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Additional info for The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse (Oxford Books of Verse)
Its literary beginnings are indistinguishable from a lot of fifteenth-century work, while the 15905 are rich in work of a kind we associate with much later seventeenth-century developments. In between these two extremes comes that period of cultural striving which we think of as characteristically sixteenth century and which we traditionally identify as the English Renaissance. But these middle years of effortful imitative emulation come no closer to forming a coherent literary period than the century itself.
The old Oxford Book included only part—the inset part—of this poem; but in doing so, it conveyed a misleading sense of what Drayton was doing, for the effect of one episode contained within, but also countering, another is essential. Given the peculiar 'shape', or distribution, of sixteenth-century poetry as a whole, the real difficulty for an anthologist is to avoid over-representing the 15905. Such a volume as this could easily turn into an Elizabethan rather than a truly sixteenth-century selection.
His enormous poem is a hotchpotch of 'British' and English history, romance episodes, folklore, travel lore, and much else, and despite its often homely style did not appeal only to 'burgher'-type readers. The Cambridge academic Gabriel Harvey noted that the Earl of Essex 'much commends Albion's England'. xxxiv INTRODUCTION Too often anthologies of sixteenth-century poetry give the impression that poets wrote about little else than love—and an especially exalted, strainedly idealistic, literary kind of love at that.