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The Renaissance sonneteers : a study in the development of style Dunn, Ian Sinclair 1962

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THE RENAISSANCE SONNETEERS: A STUDY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF STYLE by IAN SINCLAIR DUNN B, A,, University of British Columbia, 1960 A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA July, 1962* A b s t r a c t The f o l l o w i n g t h e s i s i s a n a t t e m p t t o i l l u s t r a t e t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f s t y l e i n E n g l i s h R e n a i s s a n c e p o e t r y f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e R e f o r m a t i o n , u n d e r H e n r y VIII, t h r o u g h t h e E l i z a b e t h a n a n d J a c o b e a n p e r i o d s , t o t h e R e s t o r a t i o n o f t h e m o n a r c h y i n 1660, u s i n g , a s a p r i n c i p a l g u i d e t o t h i s d e v e l -o p m e n t , t h e w o r k o f t h e m a j o r s o n n e t e e r s : W y a t t a n d S u r r e y , S p e n s e r , S i d n e y , S h a k e s p e a r e , D o n n e , a n d M i l t o n . The f u n -d a m e n t a l t h e o r e m u p o n w h i c h t h e t h e s i s r e s t s I s d e p e n d e n t u p o n t h e f o l l o w i n g a s s u m p t i o n s : t h a t t h e u n i f y i n g p r i n c i p l e w h i c h g i v e s a r t i t s s t r u c t u r e r e s i d e s i n t h e a r t i s t ' s s u b -c o n s c i o u s a n d i s l a r g e l y b e y o n d h i s w i l f u l c o n t r o l ; t h a t t h i s p r i n c i p l e i s s h a p e d t o a g r e a t e x t e n t b y v a r i o u s f o r c e s i n t h e a r t i s t ' s i n t e l l e c t u a l e n v i r o n m e n t w h i c h h e l p t o m o l d h i s w h o l e p e r s o n a l i t y ; a n d t h a t t h e s t r u c t u r e o f a r t i n g e n -e r a l a n d o f p o e t r y i n p a r t i c u l a r m u s t t h e r e f o r e r e f l e c t a t l e a s t t h e more g e n e r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l e n v i r o n m e n t , r e g a r d l e s s o f t h e a r t i s t e s i n d i v i d u a l p e c u l i -a r i t i e s . E v e n a v e r y c u r s o r y e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l h i s t o r y o f t h e E n g l i s h R e n a i s s a n c e w i l l r e v e a l t h a t t h e p e r -i o d i s i n a s t a t e o f c o n s t a n t f l u x a n d c a n be d i v i d e d i n t o t h r e e d i s t i n c t b u t c o n s e c u t i v e p h a s e s : t h e o r d e r e d , c e r t a i n world of the High Renaissance Is brought to the peak of i t s s t a b i l i t y during the la s t two decades of the sixteenth cen-tury; i n the ±59u<s i t begins to show clear signs of break-ing down, under the shattering impact of Copernicus and the New Philosophy, and by the early seventeenth century I t has collapsed into chaos and generated a thoroughgoing neurotic insecurity; the remainder of the seventeenth century i s de-voted to a gradual philosophical reintegration, working to-ward the ultimate s o l i d a r i t y of eighteenth century ration-alism, and reaching i t s f i r s t plateau with the relat i v e calm of the early Restoration period. These three phases of i n -t e l l e c t u a l development are a l l c l e a r l y represented In the lit e r a t u r e of the period, as well as i n the other arts, i n the High Renaissance, mannerist, and baroque styles. The sonnets of the Renaissance are p a r t i c u l a r l y useful for i l l u s t r a t i n g the development of l i t e r a r y style for three reasons: they are compact, well-defined, and therefore very convenient microcosms of poetic structure which, because of their precise de f i n i t i o n , lend themselves readily to a com-parative study; they display a great deal of attention to the s t r i c t l y formal aspects of poetry and are therefore more than casually relevant to an examination of style; and f i n -a l l y , they are written i n greater quantity than any of the shorter poetic forms and they appear continuously throughout the period i n the work of most of the major poets. I t a p p e a r s t h a t among t h e s o n n e t e e r s o f t h e R e n a i s s a n c e , S p e n s e r , D o n n e , a n d M i l t o n a r e r e s p e c t i v e l y t h e m o s t d i s -t i n c t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f t h e H i g h R e n a i s s a n c e , m a n n e r i s t , a n d b a r o q u e s t y l e s i n p o e t r y . S p e n s e r , i n h i s o r d e r e d r i t -u a l i s t i c t r e a t m e n t o f N e o P l a t o n i s m . a n d c o u r t l y l o v e t y p i f i e s t h e H i g h R e n a i s s a n c e ; D o n n e , i n h i s d i s i n g e n u o u s i n v e r s i o n o f E l i z a b e t h a n I d e a l i s m , r e f l e c t s t h e i n s e c u r i t y o f t h e J a c o b e a n p e r i o d ; a n d M i l t o n , i n h i s b r o a d l y c o m p r e h e n s i v e a f f i r m a t i o n o f new c e r t a i n t i e s o f v i s i o n , e x h i b i t s t h e r e i n t e g r a t i o n o f b a r o q u e t h o u g h t . W y a t t a n d S u r r e y a r e w o r k i n g t o w a r d t h e S p e n s e r i a n c o n c e p t i o n o f p o e t i c u n i t y ; S i d n e y i s w o r k i n g away f r o m S p e n s e r , o r a t l e a s t f r o m w h a t S p e n s e r r e p r e s e n t s , e v e n t h o u g h h i s s o n n e t s a p p e a r s e v e r a l y e a r s e a r l i e r ; a n d S h a k e s p e a r e i s p r o g r e s s i v e l y m o r e a n d m o r e c a u g h t u p i n t h e movement t o w a r d s m a n n e r i s m w h i c h i s d i s p l a y e d so c o n s i s t e n t l y i n t h e p o e t r y o f D o n n e , i n t h e s o n n e t s o f t h e s e s e v e n p o e t s , t h e n , t h e s t y l e o f E n g l i s h p o e t r y c a n b e s e e n t o r u n t h r o u g h a c o m p l e t e e y c l e , r e f l e c t i n g i n m i n i a t u r e n o t o n l y t h e s t r u c -t u r a l p r i n c i p l e s o f a r t i n g e n e r a l b u t t h e w h o l e i n t e l l e c -t u a l d e v e l o p m e n t o f E n g l a n d ' s , g o l d e n a g e . A p p r o v e d . . . In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It i s understood that copying or publication of this thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of ENGLISH The University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, Canada. Date 1 AUGUST, 1962 COIF TENTS Chapter P a S e Introduction 1 I Wyatt and Surrey 13 II Spenser « 29 III Sidney ^ 2 IV" Shakespeare £3 V Donne 66 VI Milton 80 Conclusion 92 Bibliography 98 Introduction Between the accession of Henry VIII in 1509 and the deposition of James II in 1688 England underwent a social revolution: the economic, cultural, religious, and p o l i t i -cal structure of the country was thoroughly undermined and radically revised in almost every respeet. The epoch gave birth to modern capitalism; i t saw the vast expansion of printing, the secularization and extension of education, and the inauguration of modern mathematics and the physical sciences; i t suffered the Protestant Reformation and the Puritan Rebellion; and i t witnessed the awesome execution of Charles I, the end of absolute monarchy in England, and the f i r s t signs of p o l i t i c a l emancipation for the middle classes. In short, the Renaissance came, flourished, and died. It hardly needs pointing out that such penetrating changes were bound to have a powerful effect upon the arts, and especially upon the literary arts: new problems loomed up as the old ones waned, and new attitudes demanded ex-pression. But the result, as one might expect in such violently shifting social circumstances, was more than a matter of overt differences in attitude; i t was bound up with the idea of literary form, and led to new conceptions of literary structure and unity. 2 It is a currently popular hypothesis that, as a con-sequence of its rapidly changing social organization, the period broadly designated by the term "Renaissance" embra-ces no fewer than three fundamentally distinct attitudes toward the structure of art in general. The terms "renais-sance," "mannerist," and "baroque," which have been used to describe these three attitudes, are derived ultimately from the c r i t i c a l apparatus of the graphic and plastie arts, and the aesthetic qualities with which they have been con-cerned are primarily the visual criteria of Renaissance painting, sculpture, and architecture. But the hypothesis has been profitably extended to include the literature of the period, on the assumption that a l l the arts of a com-mon social background have an intrinsic formal relation-ship which is somehow a reflection of the social back-ground i t s e l f . The basis of the hypothesis as i t is pro-mulgated by its chief modern proponent, Wylie Sypher, lies in formal analogy: JLf we can find analogies of form within the various arts of the renaissance, we possibly can define for literature as well as for painting, sculpture, and architecture the mechanisms of a changing renaissance style that emerges, transforms i t s e l f , re-emerges, and at last plays itse l f out in a severe equation. 1 In this context, the term "form" is used metaphorically, to 1 Wylie Sypher. Four Stages of Renaissance Style. Garden City, K. Y,; Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1955, p. 10. 3 denote any way in whieh the artist organizes his material or statement. Thus, i f the analogy bears it s e l f out, l i t -erature in the "renaissance** style w i l l consist in a static and highly symmetrical configuration of a great variety of somewhat loosely related conventional materials, reflect-ing the common view of the renaissance artist, e r i t i c , and scientist, who "believed he eould integrate the world by obeying the Golden Measure and Probability, which was the foundation of 'the grand style,' an affirmation of Logos and Proportion in each of the arts as well as in physics, astronomy, and philosophy.** 2 Mannerist style similarly reflects a phase of social disintegration, inverting the tenets of renaissance art to concentrate upon "dispropor-tion, disturbed balance, ambiguity, and clashing impulses in painting, architecture, and sculpture, as well as in 'metaphysical* poetry." 3 The hypothesis completes i t s e l f in the broad comprehensiveness of the baroque style, which relaxes the tensions of mannerism and reintegrates the mul-tifarious fragments of renaissance art in a grandiose af-firmation of total unity. For reasons whieh w i l l beeome apparent later In the chapter, the changing Renaissance styles are particularly well represented in the sonnets of the time, and more par-ticularly, in those of the major sonneteers, Wyatt, Surrey, 2 Sypher, op. c i t . . p. 35. 5 loc. c i t . 4 Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton. As far as English literature is concerned, the renaissance, man-nerist, and baroque attitudes are expressed least ambigu-ously in the poetry of Spenser, Donne, and Milton, respec-tively. Spenser has long been recognized as one of the most representative exponents of the "timeless brightness** of the English High Renaissance; the poetry of Donne char-acterizes the period of literary "decadence** following the reign of Elizabeth; and Milton provides the grand baroque synthesis of the later seventeenth century. If there is a tenable analogy between the arts, i f literature does some-how reflect the theorems of artistic practice in general, i f Spenser's Epithalamion and Botticelli's Birth of Venus. Donne*s Anatomy of the World and Peter Breughel's engraving Sloth. Paradise Lost and Bernini's gigantic piazza to St. Peter's share common unifying principles, one might expect the sonnets of Spenser, Donne, and Milton to elucidate, in a similar way, the general tenets of poetic composition un-derlying the larger and more complicated works. And the remaining poets, Wyatt, Surrey Sidney, and Shakespeare, can be expected to render interesting and revealing insights into the formative and intermediate stages of renaissance mannerist, and baroque composition, the three main phases in the poetic development of England*s golden age. It has already been suggested that the structure of a 5 w o r k o f a r t i s i n some s e n s e a n image o f t h e c u l t u r a l m i l -i e u w h i c h p r o d u c e s i t : t h e u n i t y o f a w o r k o f a r t , t h e b a s i s o f s t r u c t u r a l a n a l y s i s , h a s n o t b e e n p r o d u c e d s o l e l y b y t h e u n c o n -d i t i o n e d w i l l o f t h e a r t i s t , f o r t h e a r t i s t i s o n l y i t s e f f i c i e n t c a u s e : i t h a s f o r m , a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y a f o r m a l c a u s e . * T h e f o r m a l c a u s e i s i n e v i t a b l y c o n t a i n e d i n t h e e n v i r o n -ment o f t h e a r t i s t , w h i c h m o l d s a n d s t i m u l a t e s h i s p e r c e p -t i o n s . A r t i s c e n t r a l i n t h e w o r l d o f c u l t u r a l e x p e r i e n c e , s t a n d i n g b e t w e e n h i s t o r y , o r t h e f i e l d o f a c t i o n , o n t h e one h a n d , and s c i e n c e a n d p h i l o s o p h y , o r t h e f i e l d o f d i s -c u r s i v e r e a s o n , o n t h e o t h e r ; i n t h i s r e l a t i o n I t i s n o u r -i s h e d a n d i n f o r m e d b y b o t h . *> B y t h e same t o k e n , l i t e r a -t u r e i s c e n t r a l i n t h e w o r l d o f a r t , b o u n d e d o n one s i d e b y t h e r h y t h m i c a r t s , m u s i c a n d t h e d a n c e , w h i c h , b y a n d l a r g e , move i n t i m e , a n d o n t h e o t h e r by t h e g r a p h i c a n d p l a s t i c a r t s , p a i n t i n g , s c u l p t u r e , a n d a r c h i t e c t u r e , w h i c h , b y a n d l a r g e , s t a n d I n s p a c e ; o n c e more l i t e r a t u r e i s i n -f o r m e d b y e a c h o f i t s t w o n e i g h b o u r s , i n c o r p o r a t i n g , a t l e a s t b y a n a l o g y , t h e p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f b o t h : t h e a u r a l q u a l i t y , t h e r h y t h m , o f o n e , a n d t h e p i c t o r i a l 4 W o r t h r o p F r y e , "The A r c h e t y p e s o f L i t e r a t u r e . " K e n y o n R e v i e w . X I I I ( W i n t e r 1951), p . 97. 5 F o r t h i s a n d t h e f o l l o w i n g schema I am i n d e b t e d c h i e f l y t o F r y e , " R h e t o r i c a l C r i t i c i s m : T h e o r y o f G e n r e s , " A n a t o m y o f C r i t i c i s m . P r i n c e t o n : U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1957, p p . 2 4 3 - 3 0 3 , who i s i n t u r n i n d e b t e d t o b o t h A r i s t o t l e a n d S i d n e y . 6 q u a l i t y , t h e p a t t e r n , o f t h e o t h e r . I n t h e w o r l d o f l i t e r a t u r e t h e r e a r e b a s i c a l l y t h r e e p o e t i c g e n r e s : t h e d r a m a t i c , t h e n a r r a t i v e , a n d t h e l y r i c ; a n d among t h e s e t h e l y r i c i s c e n t r a l , c a p a b l e , t o r e p e a t t h e f o r e g o i n g scheme o n c e m o r e , o f i n c o r p o r a t i n g t h e p r i n -c i p a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f t h e o t h e r t w o . T h e d rama i s f u n -d a m e n t a l l y m a t t e r f o r s p e c t a c l e : one g o e s t o " s e e * a p l a y , a n d a l t h o u g h one m u s t l i s t e n t o t h e w o r d s , a n d a l t h o u g h a g r e a t d e a l o f p l e a s u r e c a n be d e r i v e d f r o m j u s t r e a d i n g t h e w o r d s o n t h e p r i n t e d p a g e , t h e e m p h a s i s e v e n h e r e i s u p o n t h e v i s u a l r a t h e r t h a n t h e a u r a l I m a g e , a n d u p o n t h e " p a t t e r n " o f e v e n t s . The n a r r a t i v e g e n r e i s f u n d a m e n t a l l y m a t t e r f o r r e a d i n g , a n d i d e a l l y , f o r r e a d i n g a l o u d ; ; t h e r e a r e c e r t a i n l y i m a g e s w h i e h c a n be v i s u a l i z e d , b u t t h e e m -p h a s i s i s u p o n t h e s o u n d p a t t e r n ( d e s p i t e t h e m i s l e a d i n g e t y m o l o g y o f t h i s w o r d ) a n d , e v e n i n t h e c a s e o f S p e n s e r , whose n a r r a t i v e , l i k e h i s l y r i c p o e t r y , i s d i s t i n c t l y p i c -t o r i a l , u p o n t h e a u d i b l e f e a t u r e s o f t h e r h e t o r i c . V e r y much t o t h e p o i n t h e r e , i s E l i o t ' s o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t M i l t o n , " w h o s e g i f t s w e r e n a t u r a l l y a u r a l , " was a c t u a l l y a i d e d b y h i s b l i n d n e s s i n t h a t i t made h i m c o n c e n t r a t e o n w h a t he c o u l d do b e s t ; a n d t h a t S h a k e s p e a r e ' s v i s u a l i m a g i n a t i o n o f f e r s a s t r i k i n g c o n t r a s t . 6 I t i s w o r t h n o t i n g t h a t 6 T . S . E l i o t , " M i l t o n I . " S e l e c t e d P r o s e , e d . J o h n H a y w a r d , , H a r m o n d s w o r t h , M i d d l e s e x : P e n g u i n B o o k s , 1 9 5 3 , p p . 1 2 4 - 1 2 5 . 7 Homer, another of the world's great narrative poets, is reported also to have been blind. It is very difficult for narrative poetry to become dramatic, at least In the striet pictorial sense in which this term is applied to the drama i t s e l f : the direct, as-sertive manner of address, and the consequent inevitable presence of the narrator obviate the sort of Intimate i d -entification with the characters which is essential. For similar reasons the drama has great difficulty becoming thoroughly narrative in technique without becoming either stilted or tiresome at the same time. Every dramatist who has grappled with the problems of exposition knows this. The dramatic tone i s expected somehow to approximate or represent that of conversation, and the audienee is usu-ally addressed indirectly by the author, through his char-acters only, except in the case of the narrative prologue or epilogue, where the poet's representative speaks to the audience directly, in the poet's behalf. The lyr i c genre, however, is thoroughly protean. The author is present, as he would be in the narrative, but he "turns his back upon his listeners," ? so to speak, and behaves as i f he were a character in a play, either soliloquizing or pretending to be addressing some other character whom he imagines to be 7 Frye. Anatomy, p. 250. The whole notion that generic distinctions are to be made on the basis of "the radical of presentation" or mode of address, is due to Frye. 8 present. Thus the ly r i c becomes "the genre which most clearly shows the hypothetical core of literature": 8 i t is able to combine the pictorial, even the spectacular features of the drama, with any number of the contrived rhetorical devices of the narrative—elaborate a r t i f i c i a l rhyme-schemes, metrical patterns, and acoustic ornaments of a l l sorts—without offending the reader's sense of proportion. In this way the ly r i c is able to range ac-ross the f u l l spectrum of poetic expression, from sueh forthright, explicit assertions as Surrey's "Description and Praise of his Love Geraldine," bordering on straight narrative, to the highly dramatic lyrics which are char-acteristic of Donne, according to the particular circum-stance or whim of the poet. Of a l l the great quantity and variety of l y r i c poetry written in the Renaissance, the sonnet is by far the most popular form. For this reason alone i t i s very useful in a study of the development of Renaissance style. It must be admitted from the outset that the restriction of suoh a study to the limited framework of the sonnet is bound to involve certain limitations: the brevity and stringency of the form itself prevents i t from being entirely represen-tative. But the sonnet has special technical merits that make i t particularly useful as the basis for careful and 8 Frye, op. c i t . . p. 271. 9 minute stylis t i c comparison, merits which the drama and the narrative do not have. In the f i r s t place, despite the rigid requirements placed upon certain aspeets of the form, i t is highly protean, as we have seen of the lyr i c in general, in i t s ability to range from the narrative to the dramatic at the w i l l of the poet; thus the sonneteer has an enormous wealth of literary device at his disposal with which he can regulate the tone, texture, and general organization of what he has to say, according to the par-ticular demands imposed upon him by his temperament or his environment. On the other hand, certain elements of the sonnet form are mandatory and must remain constant, so that they ean be taken more or less for granted. One poem can then be superimposed upon another, in a manner of speaking, and the variable elements wi l l be a l l the more apparent and wi l l a l l the more readily reveal the differences in crafts-manship, principle, and attitude, with which such an inves-tigation is chiefly concerned. Furthermore, the structural details of the sonnet w i l l always be prominent in the mind of the poet because of the highly organized nature of the poem: the sonnet is in some ways an extremely well-defined technical exercise, and though i t w i l l transcend the bounds of such an exercise in the hands of a good poet, i t w i l l never transgress them; i t wi l l always exhibit a great deal of attention to the purely structural elements. 10 The development of literary style is never an alto-gether conscious movement. The greater poets w i l l always have new things to say and w i l l always be searching for new methods of expression and striving to escape cliche"; but in the margin of subjectivity whieh is common to a l l art, the poet's social and psychological circumstances are bound to constrain his expression to follow certain lines beyond his conscious control. In a good poem, how-ever, the poet's intuition w i l l organize a l l the differ-ent aspects of formal composition, objective and subjec-tive, un t i l they arrange themselves into an organically related image of a unified socio-aesthetic idea, the con-tinually changing idea to whieh they contribute and from which they receive their impetus. And in a poem such as the sonnet, where the structure is such an important con-sideration, there w i l l be a great deal of formal informa-tion to draw upon. The poet's individual conceptions of form w i l l manifest themselves in every part of the poem, from the total shape to the smaller, less obtrusive pat-terns. They w i l l appear in the poet's attitude toward his conventional materials, in his treatment of standard symbols and stock themes, in his tendency toward satire or parody, and so on. They w i l l appear in a l l the more subjective areas of poetic composition—in the elusive, private symbols—which are so difficult to isolate and 11 i d e n t i f y . A n d t h e y w i l l a p p e a r i n t h e a c o u s t i c a l d e c o r -a t i o n s o f rhyme a n d m e t r e , a n d i n t h e q u a i n t r h e t o r i c a l d e t a i l s f o r w h i c h t h e R e n a i s s a n c e g r a m m a r i a n s h a d s o many i n t e r e s t i n g a n d e r u d i t e t a g s — e p a n o r t h o s l s , p a r o n o m a s i a , a n t i m e t a b o l e , a n d a l l t h e r e s t — d e t a i l s w h i c h s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y s c h o o l b o y s , who " a d o r e d , s w e e t f u l l y a n d w e r e a s c o n c e r n e d a b o u t a s y n d e t o n a n d c h i a s m u s a s a m o d e r n s c h o o l -b o y i s a b o u t e o u n t y c r i c k e t e r s , " 9 w e r e v e r y m u c h a w a r e o f , b u t w h i c h i n r e c e n t y e a r s h a v e become a r c a n e e v e n t o t h e s c h o l a r s t h e m s e l v e s . One c a n n o t e x p e c t p e r f e c t c h r o n o l o g i c a l c o n s i s t e n c y i n t h e e x a m i n a t i o n o f a n y g i v e n l i t e r a r y f i g u r e : I t w o u l d . . . b e f o o l i s h t o s u p p o s e t h a t a l l t h e a r t -i s t s i n a n y p e r i o d u s e t h e same s y n t a x . The s y n t a x o f S p e n s e r i s n o t t h e s y n t a x o f M a r l o w e ; t h e s y n t a x o f M o n t a i g n e I s n o t t h e s y n t a x o f T a s s o . None o f t h e s e f o u r w r i t e r s i n h a b i t s t h e same w o r l d a s t h e o t h e r s . S o , a l s o , a n a r t i s t c a n m o d i f y h i s s y n t a x a s h e m a t u r e s . . . . M i c h a e l a n g e l o , l i k e T i t i a n , r u n s t h r o u g h a gamut o f s t y l e s r a n g i n g f r o m t h e s y n t a x o f th© h i g h - r e n a i s s a n c e a n d m a n n e r i s m t o b a r o q u e . A n d M i l t o n ' s c o u r s e i s t h e m o s t d e v i o u s o f a l l , e m -e r g i n g f r o m t h e d i s t i n c t i v e l y r e n a i s s a n c e f o r m o f Comus, g a t h e r i n g v i o l e n c e i n t h e m a n n e r i s t t e c h -n i q u e s o f L y c i d a s , r e a l i z i n g i t s f u l l b a r o q u e p o w e r i n P a r a d i s e h o s t a n d Samson A g o n i s t e s , a n d t h e n m o d u l a t i n g i t s e l f i n t h e l a t e - b a r o q u e o r d e r o f P a r a -d i s e R e g a i n e d . 1 0 P o e t s w i t h a p p a r e n t m a n n e r i s t t e n d e n c i e s , t h e r e f o r e , m i g h t 9 C'« S. L e w i s , E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e ' i n ' t h e S i x t e e n t h C e n -t u r y , New Y o r k ; O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 19Bk> p . 61. 1 0 S y p h e r , F o u r S t a g e s o f R e n a i s s a n c e S t y l e , p . 1 7 . 12 be found to antedate other writers working in the renais-sance mode; and mannerism might s t i l l be found flourishing in the heart of the baroque phase. Furthermore, certain writers might combine elements of both renaissance and man-nerist or mannerist and baroque styles at once. It w i l l therefore be necessary, lacking the guidance of a thorough-ly organized c r i t i c a l system which has stood the test of time, to emphasize those aspects of the literature which appear particularly relevant to the argument and to subor-dinate those whieh do not. In a broader view, however, some general trend of formal development should become ap-parent. It should be profitable, then, to examine the structure (in the broadest and most inclusive sense of the word) of a representative selection of the poetry of the major Renaissance sonneteers, in the hope of revealing the differences in their various conceptions of art, and in the hope of discovering the ways in which these reflect the differences in world-view which l i e behind the renaissance, mannerist, and baroque styles. Wyatt and Surrey The poetic style of the early Renaissance is in most respects rather confusing. By the year 1485 England had been in a state of p o l i t i c a l upheaval for the best part of a century, and what l i t t l e poetry had been written had ap-peared sporadically and without continuity. The Battle of Bosworth Field brought stability to the country once more, and provided men with the leisure in which to read, spark-ing a new demand for poetic production. But the literary tradition had so been disrupted in the hands of Chaucer's successors that there were no definite literary models to turn towards. The early Tudor l y r i c i s t s were a l l attempt-ing to work their way towards a new poetic style, and their obvious model, even though he was primarily a narrative poet, would have been Chaucer; but the changes which had taken place in the rapidly developing language had rendered Chaucer's metrics largely unintelligible; and in addition to this difficulty, the few available manuscripts were in very poor condition. Chaucer's high reputation led some of the Tudors to imitate his poetry as well as they knew how, but his metrical fluidity appeared to them as a quaint sort of roughness whieh eventually proved aesthetically unsatis-fying, with the result that the fine structural qualities 14 of Chaucer's poetry came to be neglected altogether, and he was read, i f at a l l , for his subject matter, which was regarded as "instructive" despite the linguistic barrier. In the sixteenth century, therefore, the English poets be-gan to turn towards Europe for their literary exemplars, and a l l that Chaucer had done for English metrics in the fourteenth century had to be repeated almost from the be-ginning. The most valuable attempts in the early Renaissance to re-establish a metrical pattern for English poetry were made by Wyatt, and these were followed up shortly after by Surrey. But whatever Wyatt may have done in his other po-etry, the metrical logic behind many of his sonnets has remained, after four hundred,years, largely obscure: the most persistent technical question about Wyatt has been the meaning and significance of the rough-ness of much of his versification. Was i t deliber-ate, did Wyatt know what he was doing, and was he willing, like Donne, to run the risk of hanging for not keeping of accent? Or was the old barbarous me-thod of Hawes and Barclay too strong for him? Or, since he was clearly a lover of Chaucer, was his ear ruined by the bad editions of Chaucer current in his time? 1 1 It seems clear that the metrical "roughness" of Wyatt*s sonnets was deliberate: i t is unlikely that the current linguistic changes should have seriously damaged his sense 11 Hallet Smith, "The Art of Sir Thomas Wyatt." HLQ, IX, iv (August, 1946), p. 327. 15 of rhythm, or (alternatively) that they should have subse-quently obscured the rhythmic pattern in only a portion of his verse, leaving the remainder, and a l l that of Surrey, substantially intact: Wyatt proved himself a more than able metrist in much of his other poetry, a good deal of which is as metrically f l u i d as anything Surrey ever set his hand to. 1% And i t seems less than probable that his alleged "awkwardness" is the result merely of the difficulties of translating very carefully from the Italian, as Chambers suggests, or that these poems are: mere exercises in translation or adaptation, rough-ly jotted down in whatever broken rhythms came readi-est to hand, and intended perhaps for subsequent pol-ishing at some time of leisure which never presented i t s e l f . 1 3 Over twenty of Wyatt*s thirty-two sonnets are translations or in some measure adaptations of Petrarch, and Wyatt was often (though by no means always) extremely conscientious in reproducing the Italian to the letter; but in certain of these translations, even the more accurate ones, the scan-sion is quite regular, and in several others a few obvious and simple emendations which would not have affected the 12 See, for example, Wyatt, "Satires," The Poems of Sir Thomas Wiat, ed. A. K. Foxwell, London: University of London Press, 1913, vol. I, p. 135-151. A l l these poems are writ-ten in a eareful, regular terza rima. 13 B . K. Chambers, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Some Collected Studies. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1933, p. 122. 16 sense in the least would have cleared up a l l the d i f f i -culties in scansion completely. 1* on the other hand, Wyatt wrote a number of sonnets which do not depend upon any sources, and the metrical irregularities are no less prominent here than elsewhere. 15 The odd metrics are apparently conscious and deliberate experiments, and the poet seems to be drawing attention to this fact in the apology for his lute: Blame not my lute for he must sound Of thes and that as liketh me, For lake of wit the lute is bownd To geve suche tunes as plesithe me; Tho my songes be sumwhat strange, And spekes such wordes as toehe thy change Blame not my lute. I 6 And the plaint to his mistress: A brokin lute, untunid strings With such a song maye well here part, That nother pleasith him that singes, Bor theim that here, but her alone, That with her herte wold strain my herte To here i t grone. 1" The important questions that remain, then, concern just what Wyatt was doing and why he did i t . The answers 14 See, e.g.. "Som fowles there be," Foxwell, Poems, p. 22. 15 See, e_.£., "There was never f f i l e , " ibid., p. 21. 16 "Blame Hot My Lute," ibid., p. 303. 17 "Sins you wi l l nedes that I shall sing," ibid., p. 306. 17 to these questions can not, at the moment, amount to any-thing more than sensible conjecture; but the most likely hypothesis is that Wyatt was exploring the possibilities of the sonnet form, a form which had never been used in English before 1527, when Wyatt himself discovered i t on his embassy to Italy; and he seems to have been exploring in several directions. It is possible, as Miss A. K. Foxwell has suggested, that some of Wyatt's sonnets are unsuccessful attempts to render the current misconceptions of the Chaucerian deca-syllabic line into sixteenth century poetry, 1® and that these misconceptions were the result, f i r s t , of the badly edited texts, notably Richard Pynson's 1526 edition, which were a l l that were available in Tudor England, and second-ly, of the changes which had taken place in fifteenth cen-tury pronunciation, stress, and inflection, changes whieh were not understood even in Dryden's time, nor indeed un-t i l long after that. But this is the least convincing argument: i t is too often forgotten that Wyatt demonstra-ted an admirable sense of rhythm in much of his poetry, and would not have been altogether likely to produce an intentional metrical cacophony merely for the sake of an-tiquarian punctiliousness, no matter how far an adulation 18 A. £. Foxwell. A Study of Sir Thomas Wyatt's Poems. London: University of London Press, Ltd., 1911, p. 39 f f . 18 of Chaucer might have taken him. Moreover, Miss Foxwell*s thesis explains only a very few of Wyatt's irregularities, which can be explained equally well as experiments with no specific inspiration; and the same objections apply to Dr. Lever's suggestion that Wyatt was trying to reproduce the Italian hendeeasyllable in English. I 9 Wyatt was a highly experimental poet, and in many of his sonnets he makes a definite breaeh with conventional rhythms, setting up new patterns of his own whieh are closer to a free tetrameter verse, combining "accentual repetition with variations in speed," 2 0 in a way which might possibly have been inten-ded for singing or for musical accompaniment: I abide and abide and better abide And, after the olde proverbe, the happle daye: And ever my ladye to me dothe saye, "Let me alone and I will provyde. I abide and abide and tarrye the tyde And with abiding spede well ye maye: Thus do I abide I wott allwaye, Hother obtayning nor yet denied. Aye me! this long abiding Semithe to me as who sayethe A prolonging of a dieng dethe, Or a refusing of a desyred thing. Moche ware i t bettre for to be playne, Then to saye abide and yet shall not obtayne. Wyatt clearly has no intention here of writing in any of the established metrical patterns, Italian or English, 19 J. W. Lever, The Elizabethan Love Sonnet. London: Methuen, 1956, p. 19 f f . 20 Frye, Anatomy, p. 279. 21 Foxwell, Poems, p. 34. 19 t h o u g h m o s t o f h i s c r i t i c s , e s p e c i a l l y t h e l e s s f l e x i b l e c o n t i n g e n t o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , seem u n a b l e t o c o n -c e i v e o f a n y o t h e r p o s s i b i l i t y a n d b e r a t e h i m f o r a l a c k o f " h a r m o n y o f n u m b e r s . " 2 2 F o r t h e f o r e g o i n g p o e m , h o w -e v e r , N o r t h r o p F r y e c l a i m s t h a t : t h i s l o v e l y s o n n e t i s i n t e n s e l y m u s i c a l i n i t s c o n c e p t i o n : t h e r e i s t h e r e p e a t e d c l a n g o f " a b i d e " a n d t h e m u s i c a l , t h o u g h p o e t i c a l l y v e r y a u d a c i o u s , -s e q u e n t i a l r e p e t i t i o n o f t h e f i r s t l i n e i n , t h e f i f t h . T h e n a s h o p e f o l l o w s e x p e c t a n c y , d o u b t h o p e , and d e s p a i r d o u b t , t h e l i v e l y r h y t h m g r a d u a l l y s l o w s down a n d c o l l a p s e s . 2 ^ W y a t t * s r h y t h m i c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s a r e e v i d e n t l y n o t c o n -v e n t i o n a l , b u t w h a t e v e r t h e c o n s c i o u s r a t i o n a l e may h a v e b e e n , t h e r e a p p e a r s t o b e , a s F r y e h a s s u g g e s t e d , a d e f -i n i t e l o g i e a l c o n s i s t e n c y b e h i n d t h e m . A s a r u l e , W y a t t * s s o n n e t s a r e a s s y m e t r l c a l , n o t o n l y i n t h e d e t a i l s o f t h e i r s c a n s i o n b u t i n t h e b r o a d e r f e a t u r e s o f p r o s o d y a s w e l l ; t h e l i n e s a r e g e n e r a l l y o f a m a r k e d l y i r r e g u l a r l e n g t h ; a n d t h e d e l i c a t e , e a r e f u l l y c o n t r i v e d b a l a n c e w h i c h P e t r a r c h m a i n t a i n s b e t w e e n h i s o c t a v e a n d s e s t e t , a n d t h e s h a r p s e p a r a t i o n b e t w e e n q u a t -r a i n s a n d t e r c e t s , a r e o f t e n i g n o r e d by W y a t t , o r p e r h a p s e v e n s u b v e r t e d . W y a t t k e e p s P e t r a r c h ' s r h y m e - s c h e m e more 22 Thomas W a r t o n . The H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h P o e t r y , c i t e d b y K e n n e t h M u i r , e d . , C o l l e c t e d Ppems o f S i r Thomas W y a t t . L o n d o n : R o u t l e d g e & K e g a n P a u l L t d . , 1949, p . x x x v i i . 23 F r y e , A n a t o m y , p . 2 7 9 . s o o r l e s s i n t a o t , b u t t h e l i g h t r h y m e s , 2 4 more f r e q u e n t i n W y a t t ' s s o n n e t s t h a n a n y w h e r e e l s e i n h i s p o e t r y , t e n d t o u p s e t t h e s y m m e t r i c a l e f f e c t . And he i n v a r i a b l y c o n c l u d e s h i s s o n n e t s w i t h a f i n a l c o u p l e t , m a k i n g a s p e c i a l e f f o r t t o k e e p i t s e p a r a t e f r o m t h e r e s t o f t h e poem a n d t o g i v e i t d i s t i n c t , r e s o u n d i n g r h y m e s ; t h u s he u p s e t s o r a l t e r s t h e d e l i c a t e P e t r a r c h a n b a l a n c e e v e n f u r t h e r , g i v i n g t h e s o n n e t a s t r o n g e p i g r a m m a t i c f l a v o u r a n d b e g i n n i n g a t r a -d i t i o n w h i c h h a d a n a l m o s t u n i v e r s a l a p p e a l f o r t h e a p h -o r i s t i c m e n t a l i t y o f t h e l a t e r R e n a i s s a n c e s o n n e t e e r s . W y a t t a l s o a d a p t s P e t r a r c h ' s s u b j e c t m a t t e r t o s u i t t h e v a g a r i e s o f h i s own t e m p e r a m e n t . L i k e P e t r a r c h , b u t n o t t o t h e same e x t e n t a s P e t r a r c h , h e i s c o n c e r n e d t o i n -f u s e t h e m e d i a e v a l t r a d i t i o n o f c o u r t l y l o v e w i t h some o f t h e o v e r t o n e s o f R e n a i s s a n c e t r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m w h i c h was a l r e a d y d e v e l o p i n g i n E n g l a n d . I n h i s t r a n s l a t i o n o f P e t -r a r c h ' s " A m o r , c h e n e l p e n s l e r m i o , " he i s ( u n l i k e S u r r e y , who t r a n s l a t e d t h e same poem) v e r y c a r e f u l t o p r e s e r v e t h e m o r a l i m p e r a t i v e s o f " r a g i o n , v e r g o g n a e r e v e r e n z a " i n h i s " r e a s o n , shame, a n d r e v e r e n c e . " 2 5 B u t h e a l s o seems p a r -t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e P e t r a r c h a n h a b i t o f s u s t a i n e d , 24 Rhymes l i k e " c o u l o r " a n d " t h e r e f o r e , " " p a s s i o n " a n d " s e a s o n , " " g r e v e d " a n d " w e r i e d , " w h i c h depend u p o n r a t h e r r e m o t e p h o n e t i c s i m i l a r i t i e s . 2 5 " T h e l o n g e l o v e t h a t i n my t h o u g h t d o e t h h a r b a r , " F o x w e l l , P o e m s , p . 1 4 . See P a t r i c i a T h o m s o n , " T h e F i r s t E n g l i s h P e t r a r c h a n s , " H L g , X X I I , i i ( F e b r u a r y , 1 9 5 9 ) , p . 9 1 . 21 elaborate personification, which is typically mediaeval (Spenser's methods notwithstanding). Many of the poems he chooses to translate from Petrarch employ this device, and he uses i t frequently in his original poems as well. And in addition, he invests the tone of his poetry with a cer-tain degree of the gloom characteristic of the mediaeval frame of mind from The Wanderer on; he may translate Pet-rarch l i t e r a l l y , word for word, but he usually transforms Petrarch's otherworldly idealism, perhaps by a simple shift in word order, to suggest a note of worldly despair; and in the poems of his own inspiration, Wyatt is frequently downright cynical: Ffarewell Love and a l l thy lawes for ever, Thy bayted hookes shall tangill me no more: With i d i l l yeuth goo use thy propertie; And thereon spend thy many b r l t t i l l dertes. For hitherto though I have lost a l l my tyme, Me lusteth no longer rotten boughes to olyme. 26 And whatever humanistic tendencies Wyatt may have, these do not extend to matters of vocabulary: he makes a delib-erate effort to expunge Petrarch's classical references, seldom using any of his own, and he "anglicizes his terms of reference"; 2 7 in "My galy charged with forgetfulnes" Petrarch's allusion to Scylla and Gharybdis is generalized 26 "Ffarewell Love." Foxwell. Poems, p. 19~. 27 Thomson, "The First English Petrarchans," p. 94. 22 to "Socle and Rock"; and in "Ever myn happ" Petrarch's Tig-r i s and Euphrates is replaced by the Thames, Petrarch lived many years earlier than Wyatt, but in some ways he was more modern: he stood Janus-faced on the threshold of the Italian Renaissance, which antedated i t s English counterpart by well over a century. Wyatt looked in two directions also, but his imagination seems to have been captivated more by the mediaeval era. Fatalism was one of his most serious considerations, and words such as "fortune," "destyne," and "happ" appear liberally through-out his poetry; as J. W. Lever points out, "chance" was one of his favourite words and perhaps his presiding deity. 2 8 The mediaeval period was more tenacious in England than in Italy. The suggestions of gloom and cynicism which appear in Wyatt*s sonnets are not merely personal: they are typi-cal of the mediaeval temper. The metrical peculiarities are characteristic of the late mediaeval poetry of the f i f -teenth century; 2 9 and the technical assymetry is a common tendency in Gothic a r t — i n the mediaeval drama, such as 28 Lever. The Elizabethan Love Sonnet, p. 55, 29 F. T. Prince—"The Sonnet from Wyatt to Shakespeare," Elizabethan Poetry, eds. J. R. Brown and B. Harris, London: Edward Arnold Ltd., 1961, p. 13 ff.—suggests that Wyatt's metrical irregularities might be the result of his using the so-called "pausing" or "broken-backed" line. But this could be true only in a very general way: Wyatt*s rhythmic-al effects are by and large free of the awkwardnesses com-mon to Hoecleve, Lydgate, Skelton, et. a l . 23 Everyman, in the typical romance, such as the Roman de la Rose or those of Chretien de Troyes, and even in some of the paintings of Van Eyck and Giotto. The Renaissance conception of "the good life** with a l l i t s implications of order and harmony—as More sees i t , for instance—had not yet been established very firmly in English thought. Ren-aissance symmetry and the olassical traditions of form had not been founded outside the Continent; and though Wyatt was to go a lot further toward developing them in what is presumably his later poetry, the details were left for Surrey to experiment with, and for their successors, the Elizabethans, to polish and perfect. When Wyatt introduced the sonnet form into English poetry, Surrey was only ten years old, and i t was to be some time yet before he would begin writing poetry of any sort. When he did begin writing, possibly as early as 1532 when he spent over a year at the French eourt as a compan-ion to Henry VIII's bastard son Richmond, Wyatt, according to Miss Foxwell's chronology, 3 0 had written the major por-tion of his poetry and almost a l l of his sonnets, and had produced, among the many metrical experiments for which he is better known, a number or urbane, polished sonnets which 30 Foxwell, "Appendix D: Poems, in the Edgerton MS. Showing Chronological Order," A Study of Sir Thomas Wyatt*s Poems, p. 147 f f . £4 are as metrically regular as any that Surrey ever wrote: Dyvers dothe use as I have hard and kno, When that to chaunge ther ladies do beginne, To mone and waile, and never for to lynne, Hoping therby to pease ther painefull woo. And some ther be, that when i t chaunceth soo That women ehaunge, and hate wher love hath bene, Thei c a l l them fals, and think with wordes to wynne The hartes of them which otherwhere doth goo. But as for me, though that by ehaunse indede Change hath out-worne the favor that I had, I w i l l not wayle, lament, nor yet be sad, Kor c a l l her fals that falsley ded me fede; But let i t passe and think i t is of kinde, That often chaunge doeth plese a womans minde. 31 The octave and sestet are conventionally divided, with the expected turn of thought at the beginning of the ses-tet; the quatrains and couplet are carefully distinguished; and most lines are end-stopped, the result being something which surely Spenser would have been proud of, at least technically. Moreover, among Wyatt*s thirty-two sonnets is one which employs the nearest approximation to the so-called "English** rhyme-scheme, differing only in that there are two rhymes rather than four in the octave (abababab Gdodee), and two others which use the Italian rhyme-scheme but which have four rhymes in the octave (abbacddc effghh), s i g n i f i -cantlyrelaxing the stringency of the form. It is a simple step from these precedents to the stan-dard English form which Surrey, except in a very few cases, 31 Foxwell, Poems, p. 35. 2 5 u s e d c o n s i s t e n t l y , a n d w h i c h h i s g r a c e f u l , m e l l i f l u o u s , i f somewhat s u p e r f i c i a l l y r i c s made so p o p u l a r among t h e E l i z a b e t h a n p o e t s . A n d a l l t h e e v i d e n c e , e x t e r n a l a n d i n t e r n a l , i n d i c a t e s t h a t S u r r e y l e a r n e d m o s t o f w h a t he knew f r o m W y a t t . He b e g a n b y i m i t a t i n g W y a t t • s v e r s i o n o f t h e E n g l i s h s o n n e t , u s i n g o n l y two o r s o m e t i m e s t h r e e r h y m e s i n t h e w h o l e p o e m , b e f o r e he w e n t on t o d e v e l o p h i s own v a r i a t i o n . Y e t u n t i l v e r y r e c e n t l y S u r r e y h a s b e e n p r a i s e d u n a n i m o u s l y b y t h e e r i t i c s , a n d r e g a r d e d a s s u p e r i o r t o W y a t t i n e v e r y t e c h n i c a l r e s p e c t , i f n o t c o n -c e p t u a l l y a s w e l l . E v e n s u c h a e a r e f u l s c h o l a r a s H . E . R o l l i n s r e m a r k s o f S u r r e y t h a t : h i s s p e c i a l i m p o r t a n c e comes f r o m t h e i m p r o v e m e n t s he made on t h e m o d e l s s e t b y W y a t t ; f o r h i s a d m i r a -t i o n o f h i s m a s t e r . . . d i d n o t b l i n d h i m t o t h e e l d e r w r i t e r ' s d e f e c t s . I t seems l i k e l y t h a t S u r r e y c o n -s c i o u s l y a t t e m p t e d t o make h i s m e t r i c a l a c e e n t s f a l l i n g e n e r a l u p o n w o r d s t h a t w e r e a c c e n t e d b e c a u s e o f t h e i r i m p o r t a n c e , a n d u p o n t h e a c c e n t e d s y l l a b l e s o f t h o s e w o r d s . He e x p e r i m e n t e d , f u r t h e r m o r e , w i t h r u n - o v e r l i n e s , c e s u r a - v a r i a t i o n s , a n d o t h e r p r o s o -d i c m a t t e r s i n s u c h a way a s t o make W y a t t seem a n -t i q u a t e d b y c o m p a r i s o n a n d so a c c e p t a b l y a s t o a f -f e c t t h e p r a c t i c e o f s u b s e q u e n t p o e t s . 3 2 W h a t e v e r t r u t h t h e r e i s i n t h i s s t a t e m e n t , S u r r e y ' s i m -p o r t a n c e i s c o n s i d e r a b l y e x a g g e r a t e d and W y a t t ' s i s g r o s s l y u n d e r r a t e d . A l l t h e s p e c i f i c a l l y m e t r i c a l a c h i e v e m e n t s w i t h w h i c h S u r r e y i s g e n e r a l l y c r e d i t e d , w i t h t h e s i n g l e 32 H y d e r E d w a r d R o l l i n s , e d . , T o t t e l ' s M i s c e l l a n y . C a m -b r i d g e : H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 2 9 , v o l . I I , p . 7 0 . 26 exception of the typical English sonnet rhyme-scheme, are accomplished with equal facility by Wyatt, and probably at an earlier date. And as I have indicated, the rhyme-scheme itself is clearly anticipated. The quality most significant in bringing Surrey to literary fame is that he was a courtier both Important and notorious, closely related by blood to the English royalty, and widely known among al l levels of English society; he was beloved by the defenders of the Catholic faith and dis-paraged by the adherents of the Reformation as, in the words of John Barlowe, Dean of Westbury, "the most folish prowde boye that ys in England," He was therefore more likely than he would otherwise have been to be brought to the attention of the reading public. The quality in Surrey which enabled him to make a significant contribution to English literature was his typically "renaissance" concern with symmetry: he was an able rhymester and had a metronomic ear whieh, once tuned to perfection,, he always heeded. Wyatt had shown him something he could do well and had presumably shown him how to- do i t ; he had shown him how to write a highly symmetrical verse in a regular metre. Surrey himself had discovered the relatively simple English form of the sonnet, and the rela-tive ease with which it could be composed, compared to the Italian form: the freer rhyme-scheme imposes less stringent restrictions upon the poet's verbal ingenuity. Surrey was 27 q u i c k t o s e n s e i t s p o t e n t i a l a p p e a l , a n d he e x p l o i t e d i t t h o r o u g h l y , u s i n g i t i n n e a r l y a l l h i s s o n n e t s : S e t me w h e r a s t h e sonne d o t h e p e r c h e t h e g r e n e , Or w h e a r h i s beames may n o t d i s s o l u e t h e i s e , I n t e m p r a t h e a t , w h e a r e he i s f e l t a n d s e n e ; W i t h p r o w d e p e o p l e , i n p r e s e n c e s a d a n d w y s e ; S e t me i n b a s e , o r y e t i n h i g h d e g r e e ; I n t h e l o n g n i g h t , o r i n t h e s h o r t y s t d a y ; I n c l e r e w e a t h e r , o r w h e a r m y s t s t h i c k e s t b e ; I n l o f t e y o w t h e , o r when my h e a r e s be g r e y ; S e t me i n e a r t h e , I n h e a u e n , o r y e t i n h e l l ; I n h i l l , i n d a l e , o r i n t h e t o w m i n g f l o o d e ; T h r a w l e , o r a t l a r g e , a l i u e w h e r s o o I d w e l l ; S i k e , o r i n h e a l t h e ; i n y l l f a m e , o r i n g o o d ; Y o u r s w i l l I b e , a n d w i t h t h a t o n e l y t h o u g h t C o m f o r t my s e l f when t h a t my h a p e i s n o w g h t . 3 3 T h i s s o n n e t i s t y p i c a l o f S u r r e y , a n d n o t p a r t i c u l a r l y s t r i k i n g i n i t s e f f e c t ; i t s l e n g t h y c a t a l o g u e o f a n t i t h e -s e s , a common d e v i c e i n S u r r e y ' s v e r s e , b e c o m e s somewhat t i r e s o m e t o w a r d s t h e e n d , and i s r a t h e r a n e x c u s e t h a n a l o g i c a l c o n s e q u e n c e f o r t h e i n e v i t a b l e c o n c l u s i o n i n t h e c o u p l e t ; t h e r e i s no t h e m a t i c d e v e l o p m e n t ; m e r e l y h i g h l y p l e o n a s t i c j u x t a p o s i t i o n . N e v e r t h e l e s s , a s a s o n n e t , t h e poem h a s c e r t a i n m e r i t s w h i c h w o u l d h a v e p a r t i c u l a r l y a p -p e a l e d t o i t s i n t e n d e d a u d i e n c e : i t i s c l e a r l y a n d c a r e -f u l l y d i v i d e d , b y means o f t h e r e p e t i t i o n o f c e r t a i n r e -s o n a n t p h r a s e s , I n t o i t s t h r e e q u a t r a i n s a n d a c o u p l e t ; t h e l i n e s a r e a l l e n d - s t o p p e d and t h e c a e s u r a e c a r e f u l l y 33 S u r r e y , The Poems o f H e n r y H o w a r d E a r l o f S u r r e y , e d . F . M . P a d e l f o r d , S e a t t l e , U n i v e r s i t y o f W a s h i n g t o n P r e s s , 1 9 2 0 , p . 4 7 . 28 placed in each line; and there is a strong emphasis upon metrical regularity, rhetorical parallelism, and general symmetry, which were to he developed ad nauseam later, by the Elizabethans. On occasion, Wyatt had done a l l these things better, but he had been too vigorous an experimen-ter to labour any single technique. Surrey used the devi-ces exhaustively, and thus made their possibilities more apparent to the later "renaissance" writers (Spenser in particular) who were concerned. After the death of Surrey in 1547 no significant number of new sonnets was published for a period of over forty years. Some dozen sonnets by Grimald and some "un-certayn authors" appeared with those of Wyatt and Surrey in Tottel's Miscellany in 1557; Gaseoigne incorporated a number into his Sundrie Flowers of 1572; and there were others of lesser significance; but by and large, although Wyatt and Surrey seem to have been popular among the read-ing public, their sonnets do not appear to have had any remarkable immediate effect upon the poets themselves. But When the sonnet did begin to flourish, in the 1590's, i t Immediately became, in the hands of Spenser, Sidney, Drayton, Daniel, and a great host of other poets, one of the most popular and successful lyric forms of the English High Renaissance. Spenser The High Renaissance, the brief but extremely p r o l i -f i c interval in which the "renaissance" style is most fully realized and which extends in England from some time in the 1570*s to about 1600, is characterized by a pervasive sense of order in a l l things. This is not merely the classical order of symmetry, balance, and harmony—though such consid-erations are relevant—but the subtler and perhaps, from a modern viewpoint, more specious complementary order, attemp-ting to reconcile, or sometimes refusing to acknowledge, the many discordant elements in the vast universe of discourse. The intellect of the period was somehow able to utilize the best of a l l available worlds without being unduly disturbed by the inevitable contradictions. A pertinent illustration is to be found in the policy of the Anglican Church of the day toward the problem of religious liberty—the policy of comprehension: th\e point is not to maintain rigidly the integrity of the particular confession no matter how many are alienated, but rather to comprise as many as possible in a single church by making minimal and ambiguous demands. Territorialism stresses truth at the ex-pense of unity, and comprehension stresses unity at the expense i f not of truth at,least of c l a r i t y . 3 4 34 Roland H. Bainton. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1952, p. 183. 30 ETeo-Platonism and Aristotelianism, free w i l l and Constel-lation, the new science and the whole scholastic heritage were able to exist side by side, and although there were steadily increasing tensions between them, with increasing difficulty these tensions were able to be suppressed: a Protestant may he Thomistic, a humanist may be a Papist, a scientist may be a magician, a sceptic may be an astrologer.... [But] side by side with what certainly seems to be a quality of adventur-ousness and expansion there is a growing restric-tion and loss of liberty. 3 5 Sueh multiplicity is in part a natural consequence of the contradictions inherent in any human system, but here, i t is abetted by the Renaissance capacity for objectification and impersonality. The philosophical idealism of the High Renaissance was more external and public than heartfelt and personal? i t consisted in an elaborate, a r t i f i c i a l l y ordered and essentially static social abstraction, inheriting a good deal from scholasticism; i t was shared in principle, like modern democracy, by a whole culture; and i t countenanced no efforts on the part of fastidious, Procrustean individual interests to disrupt the beauty of its order by expunging any of i t s apparently incompatible details. This ranging, multifarious, somewhat strained and dogmatic eclecticism was Spenser's inheritance, and he^distilled i t s principles 35 C. S. Lewis. English Literature in the Sixteenth" Century, p. 63. 31 into poetry to create one of the more characteristic of High Renaissance compositions, the Amorettl. The Amoretti was not Spenser's f i r s t venture in son-neteering. He began experimenting with the sonnet form very early in his career with some contributions to Tan der Noodt's Theatre for Worldlings whieh consist in a num-ber of twelve-and fourteen-line translations of Petrarch, some of which have Surrey's rhyme-scheme. By 1591, when the great rash of Elizabethan sonnet sequences had begun to appear, he had published four short sequences—Ruins of Rome. Visions of the Worlds Vanitie, Bellayes Visions, and Petrarches Visions—developing both Surrey's rhyming pattern and his own characteristic scheme—ababbcbccdcdee. The Amorettl appeared early in 1595, and although i t is not one of Spenser's most significant works, i t surpasses anything, with the possible exception of Astrophel and Stella, that had been attempted thus far in the sonnet in England. Moreover, as a fa i r l y mature work in Spenser's canon, i t serves as a valuable guide to the aesthetic prin-ciples! underlying not only Spenser's more important work but also a whole body of poetry written in the "renaissance" style. This is not to suggest that a l l the literature of the period was cast in the same mold, or that Spenser com-posed his verse by thumbing through a treatise on rhetoric. There is admittedly a widely supported misconception, even 32 among some o f t h e more r e p u t a b l e c r i t i c s , t h a t S p e n s e r ' s s o n n e t s , l i k e m o s t o f t h e l o r e - l y r i c s w r i t t e n i n t h e same p e r i o d , a r e u n i n s p i r e d and u n o r i g i n a l p r o t e s t a t i o n s o f a n i n s i n c e r e a n d t h e r e f o r e p o e t i c a l l y i n v a l i d e m o t i o n ; i n t h e o p i n i o n o f P a t r i c k C r u t t w e l l : t o l o o k a t one s u c h s o n n e t s e q u e n c e i s t o l o o k a t t h e m a l l ; t h e r e c a n n e v e r h a v e b e e n , b e f o r e o r s i n e e , s u c h a s t a n d a r d i z e d a n d d e r i v a t i v e p o e t r y . D r a y t o n ' s I d e a s M i r r o u r ( t o t a k e j u s t one more e x a m p l e ) h a s a l l t h e e l e m e n t s w h i c h we h a v e f o u n d i n S p e n s e r a n d c o u l d f i n d i n a h u n d r e d o t h e r s . 36 B u t s u c h b i a s e d a t t i t u d e s d e s c r i b e , a t b e s t , o n l y h a l f t h e p i c t u r e . S p e n s e r ' s p o e t i c s t y l e h a s i t s own s u b t l e d i s t i n c -t i v e n e s s w h i c h w o u l d h a v e b e e n q u i t e a p p a r e n t t o t h e r e a d e r s o f t h e t i m e ; i t i s i m p o r t a n t t o remember t h a t t h e e d u c a t e d t a s t e o f t h e p e r i o d was r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t f r o m o u r s , s e e k -i n g i t s c r e a t i v e i n g e n u i t y i n a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t a r e a s : U n t i l t h e drama came i n t o i t s own i n t h e l a t e r 1 5 9 0 ' s , t h e age was c l o s e r t o t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y i n t h a t i t s p o e t r y l e a n e d more t o w a r d s t h e t e c h n i q u e s o f t h e n a r r a t i v e — r a t h e r s t a t i c r h e t o r i c a l s u b t l e t i e s t o w h i c h we a r e no l o n g e r s u f -f i c i e n t l y a c u t e , o r i n w h i c h we a r e no l o n g e r s u f f i c i e n t l y i n t e r e s t e d , t o p r o p e r l y a p p r e c i a t e . A n d above t h i s s p e c i a l p l e a d i n g , S p e n s e r ' s p o e t r y i s o f s u c h f i n e q u a l i t y a s t o d i s t i n g u i s h a number o f h i s s o n n e t s a s e x c e l l e n t poems i n 36 P a t r i c k C r u t t w e l l . The S h a k e s p e a r e a n Moment . L o n d o n : C h a t t o and W i n d u s , 1 9 5 4 , p . 1 7 . 3 3 t h e i r own r i g h t , q u i t e a p a r t f r o m a n y a c a d e m i c h i s t o r i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . 3 7 B u t C r u t t w e l l ' s a t t i t u d e d o e s p o i n t up one v e r y i m p o r t a n t f e a t u r e o f t h e " r e n a i s s a n c e " s t y l e : I t s p u b l i c , i m p e r s o n a l , a n d s t a t i c a l l y c o n v e n t i o n a l q u a l i t y . The A m o r e t t i i s a f a b r i c made o u t o f a g r e a t v a r i e t y o f c o n v e n t i o n a l m a t e r i a l s — C l a s s i c a l , C h r i s t i a n , P l a t o n i c , s c h o l a s t i c , c o u r t l y , a n d P e t r a r c h a n — w o v e n i n t o a l a r g e l y c o n v e n t i o n a l p a t t e r n , a s i m m o b i l e a n d e t e r n a l a s a Cameo e n g r a v i n g o r t h e f r i e z e o n a G r e c i a n u r n . Amor c o u r t o i s , d e s c r i b e d b y C . S . L e w i s a s a " f e u d a l i s a t i o n o f l o v e , " 3 8 i s p a r t i c u l a r l y a m e n a b l e t o S p e n s e r ' s e n d s b e c a u s e o f t h e r i g i d i t y o f a l l f e u d a l a r r a n g e m e n t s . I n t h e A m o r e t t i , o f c o u r s e , i t i s m o d i f i e d b y P e t r a r c h a n t r a n s c e n d e n t a l c o n s i -d e r a t i o n s , and h e r e a n d t h e r e S p e n s e r i s more a g g r e s s i v e o r more p e d a g o g i c a l t h a n t h e t y p i c a l l o v e r ; b u t g e n e r a l l y , he p r e s e n t s t h e s t a t i c r e l a t i o n s h i p o f a l l s u c h p o e t r y : a l l P e t r a r c h a n p o e t r y seems t o s h a r e a f i x e d r e l a -t i o n o f l o v e r t o l a d y : t h e l a d y i s a l w a y s u n o b t a i n -a b l e — a t l e a s t u n o b t a i n e d — t h e l o v e r h o p e l e s s , o r a t l e a s t h a p l e s s . . . , P e t r a r c h a n l o v e i s t h e a t t i -t u d e o f t h e l o v e r i n t h i s s t a t i c s i t u a t i o n . 3 ^ 57 The b e s t r e m e m b e r e d o n e s a r e p e r h a p s A m o r e t t i , X X I I , L X V T I , L X Y I I I , L X X V , a n d L X X I X . 58 0 . S . L e w i s , The A l l e g o r y o f L o v e . New Y o r k : O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 3 6 , p . 2 . 39 R. B . Y o u n g , " E n g l i s h P e t r a r k e : A S t u d y o f S i d n e y ' s A s t r o p h e l a n d S t e l l a , " Y a l e S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h , v o l . 1 3 8 , New H a v e n : Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 5 8 , p . 1 0 . 34 Spenser's mistress is seen as a vaguely Christianized feu-dal "Lord" or warrior, or perhaps as a pagan goddess; he, the lover, is a stereotyped "vassal" or a suppliant of one sort or another; and the language of courtship becomes the formal address of courtly service or the boisterous cant of chivalric warfare or the automatic response of r e l i g i -ous worship: This holy season f i t to fast and pray, Men to deuotion ought to be inclynd: therefore, I lykewise on so holy day, for my sweet Saynt some seruiee f i t w i l l find. Her temple fayre is built within my mind, in which her glorious ymage placed i s , on which my thoughts doo day and night attend lyke sacred priests that neuer thinke amisse. There I to her as th'author of my blisse, w i l l build an altar to appease her yre: and on the same my hart w i l l sacrifise, burning in flames of pure and chast desyre: The which vouchsafe 0 goddesse to accept, amongst thy deerest rellcks to be kept. 4 0 The Christian, courtly, and pagan ritual and the Platonic attitude are a l l linked together in the same poem, and one must admire the f a c i l i t y with which they are superimposed upon one another. But the implied relation between them is clearly specious. One is simply not expected to pry into the details too minutely. The poet's aesthetic principles, or his metaphysics, or both, do not require him to provide 40 Spenser, Amorettl. XEII. The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, ed. Ernest de Sdlincourt, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910, vol. I, p. 382. 35 a rigorous philosophical resolution of the inherent con-tradictions between the pagan and Christian elements in his poetry. *1 And his idealism does not require him to relate the poetic situation to any of the external prob-lems of his courtship. The love affair is treated as a purely conceptual abstraction. Such treatments of love were bound to provoke Donne's caustic barb at a l l Eliza-bethan Petrarchans: Love's not so pure, and abstract, as they use To say, which have no Mistresse but their Muse. 42 But Spenser is expected to adopt this fashionable pose, a pose to which his audience was so fully accustomed as to be oblivious or completely indifferent to a l l i t s in-congruities. The basic material or "content" of the Amoretti. the unrefined prose statement, is important insofar as i t re-veals, in a general way, Spenser's sanctification of the Court of Love, and Renaissance Platonism, and whatever is 41 Spenser's neo-Platonic solution to Renaissance phil-osophical difficulties with the problems of sexual love, linking the pagan courtly microcosm to the sacred heavenly macrocosm—an important motif in the Amoretti—is most fully proliferated in his Eowre Hymnes. But the solution is a poetic synthesis and does not have to answer to the rigours of philosophical analysis. 42 Donne, "Loves Growth," The Poems of John Donne, ed. H. J. C. Grierson, London: Oxford University Press, 1912, vol. I, p. 33. 36 t o be a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e d o c t r i n e t h a t " a l l t h a t s g o o d , i s b e a u t i f u l l a n d f a i r e . " 4 3 B u t t h e o v e r t s t a t e m e n t o f m o s t o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l poems i s a s s t a t i c a n d c o n v e n t i o n a l a s t h e s i t u a t i o n s t h e m s e l v e s , c o n s i s t i n g i n s t o c k f o r m u l a e and s t a n d a r d e p i t h e t s s u c h a s " g e n t l e , " " s w e e t , " " p r o u d , " a n d " b a s e " ; t h e a d j e c t i v e " f a i r e , " f o r i n s t a n o e , a p p e a r s more t h a n f i f t y t i m e s i n t h e e i g h t y - n i n e poems o f t h e s e -q u e n c e . A n d y e t S p e n s e r ' s " a u r a l g i f t s " e n a b l e h i m t o t u r n a l l t h i s s t a n d a r d i z e d v e r b i a g e i n t o a v e h i c l e f o r some o f t h e m o s t i n d i v i d u a l p o e t i c e f f e c t s i n t h e l a n g u a g e : t h e d i f f u s e d l i g h t n e s s a n d s w e e t n e s s , a n d y e t t h e a p p a r e n t v a g u e n e s s a n d w a s t e f u l n e s s t h a t we f i n d e l s e w h e r e i n E n g l i s h p e r h a p s o n l y i n S h e l l e y . 4 4 F o r t h e m o s t p a r t , S p e n s e r i s n o t so much c o n c e r n e d w i t h m a k i n g a e o n c i s e , w e l l - c o n s i d e r e d s t a t e m e n t a b o u t l o v e a s w i t h l a y i n g o u t a s i m p l e f a b r i c o f c o n v e n t i o n i n w h i c h t o e m b r o i d e r a d e l i c a t e r h e t o r i c a l p a t t e r n . S p e n s e r ' s f a c i l i t y w i t h h i s c o n v e n t i o n a l m a t e r i a l s i s p r o b a b l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r w h a t a r e commonly a n d p e r h a p s n o t e n t i r e l y i n v i d i o u s l y r e g a r d e d b y m o d e r n r e a d e r s a s t h e m o s t s e r i o u s d e f e c t s o f t h e A m o r e t t l — d i f f u s e n e s s . a n d l a c k o f d e p t h . B u t h i s f a c i l i t y w i t h t h e l a n g u a g e , h i s a c u t e c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f t h e a u r a l a s p e c t s o f p o e t r y , w h i c h i s a l s o 43 S p e n s e r , " A n Hymne t o H e a u e n l y B e a u t i e , " 1 . 1 3 3 . 44 P r i n c e , " T h e S o n n e t f r o m W y a t t t o S h a k e s p e a r e , " p . 2 3 . 37 neglected by modern readers, is probably the greatest sin-gle contributing factor to his importance in the hierarchy of English poets. Some of the most beautiful effects in the Amoretti are due to the verbal and rhythmic patterns of the s k i l l f u l l y deployed syntax. These particular struc-tural qualities of Spenser's sonnets are not always super-lative: Spenser is at his worst when he is intolerably ple-onastic, like Surrey in his "Description of Spring," and hence fragmentary and disunified; 4 5 he is most successful when he is able to adjust the metrical and verbal patterns of his poetry, the sound and the sense, to comply with the natural linked unity required by his particular form: Is i t her nature or i s i t her w i l l , to be so cruell to an humbled foe? i f nature, then she may i t mend with s k i l l , i f w i l l , then she at w i l l may w i l l forgoe. 4 6 But i f her nature and her w i l l be so, that she w i l l plague the man that loues her most, and take delight t'encrease a wretches woe, then a l l her natures goodly guifts are lost. And that same glorious beauties ydle boast, is but a bayt such wretches to beguile, as, being long in her loues tempest tost, she means at last to make her piteous spoyle. 0 fayrest fayre, let neuer i t be named, that so fayre beautie was so fowly shamed. 4 7 The poem bias been made like a piece of tapestry. The play 45 see Amoretti. XXVI and LXIII. 46 We should not be too hasty to interpret this as a clue to the identity of the riv a l of Shakespeare's sequence. 47 Amoretti, XLI. \ 38 u p o n t h e w o r d s " w i l l 1 * a n d " n a t u r e " c r e a t e a somewhat i r -r e g u l a r p a t t e r n i n t h e f i r s t p a r t o f t h e poem, t e n d i n g t o k n i t i t f i r m l y t o g e t h e r ; b u t t h e l o o s e s e n t e n c e s t r u c t u r e a n d t h e c a r e f u l p a r a l l e l i s m o f p h r a s e w i t h p h r a s e , c l a u s e w i t h c l a u s e , d i v i d e s t h e poem i n t o g e o m e t r i c a l l y d i s c r e t e u n i t s , t e n d i n g t o k e e p t h e p a r t s s e p a r a t e . The r h e t o r i c t h u s c o r r e s p o n d s t o t h e p o e m ' s n a t u r a l s h a p e , d e t e r m i n e d b y t h e p u n c t u a t i n g d e v i c e s o f rhyme a n d m e t r e . T h e r e I s o n l y a v e r y s m a l l d e g r e e o f m e t r i c a l v a r i a -t i o n i n t h e p o e m , a n d e v e n t h i s l i t t l e i s more t h a n u s u a l f o r S p e n s e r . A s H b r t h r o p F r y e i n d i c a t e s , t h e r e a r e , i n e v e r y p o e m , t w o d i s t i n c t r h y t h m s o p e r a t i n g a t o n c e : One i s t h e r e c u r r i n g r h y t h m , w h i c h j _ i s ] a c o m p l e x o f a c c e n t , m e t r e , a n d s o u n d - p a t t e r n . The o t h e r i s t h e s e m a n t i c r h y t h m o f s e n s e , o r what i s u s u a l l y f e l t t o be t h e p r o s e r h y t h m . 4 8 S p e n s e r ' s m e t r i c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s t e n d t o make t h e s e m a n t i c r h y t h m c o i n c i d e w i t h t h e r e c u r r i n g r h y t h m ( I a m b i c p e n t a m e -t e r ) , j u s t a s h i s r h e t o r i c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s t e n d t o make t h e p h r a s e l e n g t h c o i n c i d e w i t h t h e l i n e l e n g t h ( t e n s y l l a b l e s ) ; t h e r e s u l t i s t h a t t h e u n i t s o f v e r s e a r e k e p t e v e n more s e p a r a t e f r o m o n e - a n o t h e r . 4 : 9 A l m o s t a l l t h e l i n e s i n t h e 48 F r y e , A n a t o m y o f C r i t i c i s m , p . 2 6 3 . 49 M i l t o n ' s t e c h n i q u e i s a t t h e o p p o s i t e p o l e f r o m t h a t o f S p e n s e r : t h e two r h y t h m s a r e q u i t e i n d e p e n d e n t , c o m p l e -m e n t i n g r a t h e r t h a n r e i n f o r c i n g one a n o t h e r , a n d f u s i n g t h e e x p r e s s i o n i n t o a c o n t i n u o u s f l o w . 39 poem above, as in general with Spenser's poetry, are in a relatively strict iambic pentameter, in accord with the preconceived metre; and every line i s end-stopped, suppor-ting the tendency of rhymed decasyllabic lines to isolate themselves as self-contained units, and thus breaking the flow of the rhythm. The volta does not appear once, be-tween a clearly defined octave and sestet, but three times, at the end of each quatrain. Every quatrain is a separate period, complying with the divisions suggested by the rhy-ming pattern; but the language and imagery have a well de-fined logical sequence, moving from the particular to the general and imposing a tenuous unity on the three quatrains by correlating them without subordinating any one. Accord-ingly, there is a systematic progression in the interlacing rhyme-scheme. 5 0 Just as there is a thematic link between one quatrain and the next, so there is a rhyming link: each quatrain has one rhyme in common with those adjacent to i t . And the conclusion takes the form of a quasi-logical deduc-tion. There is an abrupt shift in tone from the leisurely diffuseness of the body of the poem to the aphoristic neat-ness of the conclusion. Accordingly, there is a shift to a new set of rhymes, which exist in a different relation to 50 The rhyme-scheme of Spenser's sonnets is a simple ex-tension of that of his characteristic nine-line stanza. The close connection between the two forms is pointed up by the fact that several of his sonnets end with an Alexandrine. 40 one another; and i f the conclusion indulges a somewhat questionable logic, i t i s nevertheless declared,valid by the implicit rational quality of the rhyming couplet: the repetition of the final rhyme e l i c i t s a sense of inevit-ability. The language of the poem, like that of a l l Spenser's poetry, is clear and straightforward. It may be a l i t t l e quaint, sometimes, because of its archaism or i t s lack of connectives and articles, but i t i s never d i f f i c u l t , and the perfect balance and symmetry of i t s rhetoric only add to i t s clarity. Spenser's task i s made easier by the fact that although he is undoubtedly an extremely complicated person he has no complex psychology to express, unlike his successors, who were burdened with a new set of shattering problems; despite his claim to a troubled state of mind, he i s , as a rule, detached and objective: i t is...probably true that the lack of tension in his verse reflects the lack of tension in his mind. His poetry does not express (though i t often repre-sents) discord and struggle: i t expresses harmony. 5 1 The 'Amoretti has a binding kinship not only with Spen-ser's other works but with a large proportion of the poetry of the whole age. Its metrical techniques, i t s rhetorical 51 Lewis. Sixteenth Century English Literature, p. 258. 41 devices, and i t s conventional materials are to be found, in varying degrees, not only in The Faerie Q,ueene and the Ipithalamlon. but (with a l l the necessary allowances for individual differences) in Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, in Shakespeare's early poetry, in Marlowe's f i r s t plays, and in innumerable other works from the High Renaissance. The conservative aesthetic and social attitudes, the com-prehensive, eclectic multiplicity, the impersonality, and the leisurely, untroubled development are characteristic of Spenser's era. Spenser and the other poets of the per-iod were static artists, like the painters of the Quattro-cento; their concern was with being, not becoming, and they seldom expressed the urgency of a poet who must deal directly rather than through established conventions with his own personal torments. The beautiful verbal patterns of the Amorettl. the order, the simplicity, the symmetry and perfect harmony of language and form, are but one as-pect of the pervasive sense of order which is the hallmark of the High Renaissance. Sidney The Amoretti appeared early in 1595, and the greater part of i t had presumably been composed during the earlier 1590fs. 5 2 Astrophel and Stella f i r s t appeared in an un-authorized edition in 1591, five years after Sidney's death, and the whole of i t , as far as we know, had been composed during the early 1580's. 5 3 The chronological relation between the two works seems to present an immediate contra-diction: Sidney begins, in the very f i r s t poems of his se-quence, to protest vigorously against that sort of poetry whieh Spenser is s t i l l labouring to perfect: Let Dainty wittes cry, on the Sisters nine, That bravely maskt, their fancies may be tolde: Or Pinders Apes flaunt in their phrases fine, Enameling their pride with flowers of golde. Or els let them in stately glorie shine, Ennobling new found tropes, with problemes old: Or with straunge similes, inricht each line, Of hearbes or beastes, which Inde or Affricke hold. For me in sooth, no Muse but one I know, Phrases and Problemes from my reaeh doe growe, And straunge things cost too deere for my poore sprites, How then? even thus, in Stellas face I reede, Wiiat love and beauty be, then a l l my deede. But co^ppying i s , what in her nature writes. 54 58 A clue to dating is given in Amoretti, LX, 4-8. 53 See Lever, p. 51. 54 Sidney, Astrophel and Stella. I l l , Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney, ed. Albert Feuillerat, Cambridge: Univer-sity Press, 1922, vol. II, p. 244. 4 3 The poetic tradition of the English High Renaissance was already well developed, but i t had yet to culminate, in the mature work of i t s greatest exponent, Spenser, in the mid 1590*s; and yet fifteen years before this poetry had even been published, i t s principles were being attacked by a young man who had so far acquired no poetic reputa-tion to speak of, except perhaps among interested members of Elizabeth's court. The problem i s partly answered by the consideration that Sidney was, i f not mueh younger in years than Spenser, a good deal younger and more progres-sive in sp i r i t : he was a man of the world and a man of action, for whom poetry was, at most,a oonsuming avoca-tion. And his worldly responsibilities at court and in the f i e l d had perhaps made him more aware than Spenser of new worldly realities—the rapidly mounting social and po l i t i c a l tensions which Elizabeth was making every ef-fort to suppress, and with some success, but which never-theless seem to be reflected in Sidney's objection to the High Renaissance aesthetic. On the other hand, for a l l his protesting, Sidney is unable, or not sufficiently con-cerned, to revise the High Renaissance mode of writing in any great measure, at least in the major portion of his poetry. Except for a very few instances, and these few largely toward the end of Astrophel and Stella (notably in sonnet LXX1V), Sidney continues to use the "dictionary 44 method" to sing "Petrarehs long deceased woes/ With new borne sighes," 5 5 making no really significant departure from the tradition in which Spenser was to write. It is suggested in the t i t l e of Astrophel and Stella that, regardless of the historical basis of certain events to which Sidney alludes, the subject of his poetry w i l l be treated in a manner no less conventionally ideal than that of Daniel's Delia (anagrammatizing the word "ideal"), Dray-ton's Ideas Mlrrour (ringing up Platonic suggestions), and a host of other sonnet-sequences which were published at about the same time. Sidney's object, like Spenser's,was not to represent "Nature," but to improve upon i t by giving i t a conventionally ordered, "celestial" pattern: Nature can never set foorth the earth in so rich Tapistry as diverse Poets have done, neither with so pleasaunt rivers, f r u i t f u l l trees, sweet smel-ling flowers, nor whatsoever els may make the too much loved earth more lovely: her world is brasen, the Poets only deliver a golden. §6 Penelope Devereux-Rich was undoubtedly a very real person-ality in Sidney's l i f e , and quite possibly a very unusual and f a s c i n a t i n g one at that, but throughout most of Astro-phel and Stella she is treated in the same a r t i f i c i a l man-ner in which Spenser presents Elizabeth Boyle, as a typed 55 Astrophel and Stella. XV. Feuillerat. vol. II. p. 249. 56 The Defense of Poesie. Feuillerat, vol. I l l , p. 8. 4 5 f i g u r e i n t h e c e n t r e o f a n e l a b o r a t e d l y o r d e r e d game, w i t h a l l t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l t r a p p i n g s o f amor o o u r t o i a : S t e l l a , whence d o t h t h e s e newe a s s a u l t s a r i s e , A c o n q u e r e d , y e e l d i n g , r a n s a c k t h a r t t o w i n ? W h e r e t o l o n g s i n c e , t h r o u g h my l o n g b a t t r e d e y e s , W h o l e A r m i e s o f t h y b e a u t i e s e n t r e d i n , A n d t h e r e l o n g s i n c e , L o v e t h y L i e v e t e n a n t l y e s , My f o r c e s r a z * d , t h y b a n n e r s r a i s ' d w i t h i n ; Of c o n q u e s t w h a t doe t h e s e e f f e c t s s u f f i s e , B u t w i l t new w a r r e u p p o n t h i n e owne b e g i n * 5 7 A t t i m e s , e s p e c i a l l y i n h i s m i s t r e s s * a b s e n e e , S i d n e y i s more r e a l i s t i c t h a n S p e n s e r : Out T r a y t o u r a b s c e n c e d a r * s t t h o u c o u n s e l l mee F r o m my d e a r e C o n q u e r o r t o r u n n e a w a i e , B e c a u s e i n b r a v e a r r a y e h e r e m a r c h e t h s h e e T h a t t o e n t i e e mee p r e f e r s p r e s e n t p a y e . I s F a i t h s o w e a k e , o r i s s u e h f o r c e i n t h e e ? When Sunne i s h i d , c a n S t a r r e s s u c h beames d i s p l a i e ? C a n n o t H e a v e n s f o o d e o n c e f e l t k e e p e s t o m a c k s f r e e F r o m b a s e d e s i r e o n e a r t h l y Gates t o p r a i e ? 58 S i d n e y ' s a c c e p t a n c e o f t h e mere p o s s i b i l i t y o f i n f i d e l i t y t o h i s m i s t r e s s i s u n P e t r a r c h a n t o s a y t h e l e a s t . H i s c o n -c e p t i o n o f l o v e i s g e n e r a l l y l e s s t r a n s c e n d e n t a l t h a n t h a t o f S p e n s e r : i t i s , a f t e r a l l , more s t r i c t l y i n t h e c o u r t l y t r a d i t i o n , i n t h a t i t h a s b e e n a d u l t e r o u s f r o m t h e b e g i n -n i n g ; and i t s o b j e c t i n s e x u a l c o n s u m m a t i o n i s more a p p a r -e n t . B u t t h e f i g u r a t i v e s i t u a t i o n s ( s u c h a s t h e m a r t i a l s c e n e s above ) w h i c h S i d n e y u s e s t o r e p r e s e n t i t , a n d t h e 57 A s t r o p h e l and S t e l l a , X X X v T . 58 A s t r o p h e l a n d S t e l l a . L X X X V I I I . 46 rhetorical traditions in which i t is couched, though he takes pains to mock them from time to time, are hardly less conventional or standardized. And Sidney's thoroughgoing eclecticism is a perfect parallel of Spenser's: It i s most true, what wee c a l l Cupids dart An Image is , which for our selves we carve: And fooles adore, in Temple of our hart, T i l l that good God make church and Church-men starve. It is most true, that eyes are hound to serve The inward part: and that the heavenly part Ought to be King, from whose rules who doth swerve, Rebels to nature, strive for their owne smart. True that true beautie vertue is indeede, Wherof this beautie can but be a shade: Which Elements with mortall mixture breede, True that on earth we are but Pilgrimes made. And should in soule, up to our Country move: True and most true, that I must Stella love. 5 9 In this single sonnet, one which bears a striking similar-ity to Spenser's "This holy season, f i t to fast and pray," Sidney brings together three fundamentally incompatible attitudes toward love: the courtly, the Christian, and the neo-Platonic. In the f i r s t quatrain, the cult of courtly love and its presiding deity are apparently dismissed as a fool's fantasy, although the ambiguity of the fourth line, " T i l l that good God make church and Church-men starve," makes i t difficult to determine how much credence Sidney is prepared to allow the god Cupid, or Amor, and hard to 59 Astrophel and Stella. T. 47 d e o i d e w h e t h e r o r n o t he m i g h t be u s i n g t h e t e r m s " c h u r c h " and " C h u r c h - m e n " i n t h e f i g u r a t i v e way i n w h i c h Romeo u s e s " p i l g r i m " a n d " p a l m e r " t o i n d i c a t e h i s " m a n n e r l y d e v o t i o n " t o t h a t " h o l y s h r i n e , " J u l i e t ' s h a n d . 6 0 I n t h e n e x t q u a t -r a i n i t i s made c l e a r t h a t t h o s e who n e g l e o t t h e s p i r i t u a l a s p e c t o f l o v e " s t r i v e f o r t h e i r owne s m a r t , " a n d a r e p r e -s u m a b l y t r e a d i n g t h e p r i m r o s e p a t h t o d a m n a t i o n . B u t t h e n S i d n e y d e s e r t s t h e p r o b l e m s o f i n c o n g r u i t y b e t w e e n c o u r t l y a n d C h r i s t i a n , a n d i n t h e s e s t e t he i n t r o d u c e s a t h i r d i n -c o m p a t i b l e , t h e n o t i o n o f t h e P l a t o n i c " f o r m " a n d t h e P l a -t o n i c l a d d e r , w h i c h i s n o t c o n s o n a n t w i t h t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f d a m n a t i o n : t h e P l a t o n i c u n i v e r s e i s b a s i c -a l l y m o n i s t i c , c o n t a i n i n g o n l y " t h e G o o d , " i n t h e w o r l d o f f o r m s , a n d t h e l e s s good e l s e w h e r e ; t h e C h r i s t i a n u n i v e r s e , e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e P r o t e s t a n t v i e w , i s b a s i c a l l y d u a l i s t i c , c o n t a i n i n g b o t h good a n d a p o s i t i v e , v o l i t i v e e v i l f o r c e . A s f o r t h e P l a t o n i c l a d d e r , i t h a s b e e n f u n d a m e n t a l l y h e r -e t i c a l e v e r s i n c e t h e P e l a g i a n d i s p u t e t o assume t h a t man i s p e r f e c t a b l e i n h i s e a r t h l y l i f e , o r t h a t he c a n a s c e n d a b o v e h i s m i d d l e s t a t e t o w a r d t h e c o n d i t i o n o f t h e a n g e l s : one i s r e d e e m e d f r o m H e l l u l t i m a t e l y b y G o d ' s g r a c e a l o n e . A n d i f t h e poem i s t o be t a k e n a s a r e j e c t i o n o f c o u r t l y l o v e , how i s t h e r e a d e r t o c o n s t r u e t h e a m b i g u o u s comment 60 Romeo and J u l i e t . I , v , 9 5 f f . , S h a k e s p e a r e : The Com-p l e t e W o r k s . e d . G . B . H a r r i s o n , New Y o r k : H a r e o u r t , B r a c e and C o . , 1 9 4 8 , p . 4 8 2 . 48 in. the last line of the poem, which can easily be read as an admission of helplessness and an endorsement of worldly (and in this case adulterous) sexual love. The philosoph-ic a l contradictions in Astrophel and Stella are quite ap-parent, at least to the punctilious modern mind, but Sid-ney's conceptions of unity, like Spenser's, and like those of the Anglican Church, do not require him to make any ser-ious attempt to resolve them. If Sidney departs from the High Renaissance tradition in any significant way, the departure is probably most ap-parent in his prosody. He begins writing sonnets as Wyatt does, with a series of prosodic experiments, and he tests a number of different rhyme-schemes and metrical patterns; but, like Wyatt, he never seems quite satisfied with any one form. The f i r s t poem is in Alexandrines, and though Sidney soon becomes aware of the relative ineffectiveness of this metre, he continues to use i t here and there for the rest of the sequence, the last instance being in son-net CII. In the f i r s t sonnet, Sidney adopts Wyatt's ver-sion of the English rhyme-scheme (abababah cdcdee); and in the second, he tries one of the Petrarchan forms (abbaabba cdcdee); but he continues to experiment throughout the en-suing twenty or thirty sonnets. He produces two new ver-sions of the octave (ababbaba. and abbabaab) in the sixth and thirteenth sonnets respectively, never using more than 49 two rhymes except in the fourth (abacaoac); and he tries several variations in the sestet (ccdccd; ccdeed; cddcee; and ccdeef) seldom using more than three rhymes. In the long run he goes back to the patterns he started with in the f i r s t two sonnets, using the f i r s t relatively infre-quently and concentrating on the second. Thus he estab-lishes a return to Petrarch, or quite possibly to Wyatt, from whom he may have learned a good deal not only about prosody but about poetry in general, and especially about translating from Petrarch. Sidney's decision to write mainly in his somewhat unusual version of the Italian form has provoked a note of vigorous disapproval from at least one reputable mod-ern c r i t i c : he deserves a l l honour for...appreciation of the value of formal strictness. However, his practi-cal application shows some lack of perception, Thus for the sestet he almost always uses the pat-tern cdcdee. This is a step away from Wyatt's cddcee. and a step In the wrong direction. One of the chief rules of the Italian form is that the sestet is composed of two tercets, and that i t must not therefore be allowed to turn into a quatrain followed by a couplet. If i t does, the subtle sym-metry (in inequality) of two fours followed by two threes, i s lost, and the unity of the whole is affected. 6 1 The relevance of such criticism, which is rather dogmati-cally theoretical, may be affected by consideration of the 61 Prince, "The Sonnet from Wyatt to Shakespeare," p. 18. 50 cliche' that the rules don't make the poetry. The decree that the subtle symmetry (in inequality) of two quatrains followed by two tercets somehow displays a higher order of virtue than the subtle symmetry (in inequality) of three quatrains followed by a couplet is Delphic in i t s mystery. Furthermore, Sidney generally marks the end of the f i r s t tercet with a substantial pause anyway, and thus divides the sestet in two ways at once, achieving something of the effect of Spenser's interlacing rhyme-seheme, strengthen-ing the internal bonds, and generating the linked unity which was Spenser's constant goal. As far as the other prosodic matters are concerned, Sidney is more erratic s t i l l . The general rule is that he divides his sonnets into an octave and a sestet, and the sestet less distinctly into two tercets; but the ma-jor division may come at the end of the seventh line, as i t does in the eighth sonnet, or at the end of the sixth, as i t does in the seventeenth. He generally, but not a l -ways, divides the octave into quatrains, and as I have said, he generally divides the sestet into tercets, but he frequently isolates the fi n a l couplet, as most of his contemporaries do. As a rule, he end-stops most lines; and the caesurae are more commonly near the middle of the line; but in these latter features of prosody Sidney de-parts more than anywhere else from conventional practise. 5 1 Scattered here and there are the irregular cadences of conversation: I never dranke of Aganippe well, Nor never did in shade of Tempe s i t : And Muses scorne with vulgar hraines to dwell, Poore Lay-man I, for sacred rites unfit. Some doe I heare of Poets fury t e l l , But God wot, wot not what they meane by i t : And this I sweare by blackest brooke of h e l l , I am no Pickepurse of an others wit. How fals i t than, that with so smooth an ease My thoughts I speake? And what I speake I showe In verse; and that my verse best wittes doth please, Guesse we the cause. What is i t this? fie no. Or so? much lesse. How then? sure thus i t i s ; My lips are sure inspired with Stellas kisse. §2 Such instances are rare, but they deserve a l l the credit for originality which Sidney humorously bestows upon him-self. Where he formerly repudiated the Elizabethan a r t i -f i c i a l i t y scornfully, while continuing to use i t as the basis of his poetry, here he feigns an inability to use i t at a l l , in a parody of himself: the vehement denial of literary pretension in a poem so thoroughly literary is a joke in which the poet-lover, assuming the pose of ingenuousness and simplicity he finds in his models, makes fun of i t by protesting too much; he insists on his homeliness ("Poore Layman I"), is elumsy in a studied and witty way ("God wot, wot not what they meane by i t " ) , swears his grim alliterative oath, and ends with a rhetorical guessing game. Astro-phel is distinguishing himself from the conven-tional manner of his models...by means of parody. 62 Astrophel and Stella, LXXIY. 63 Young, "English Petrarke," p. 7, 52 I n t h e m e , t o n e , and r h y t h m , t h e t e c h n i q u e s o f t h e drama a r e b e g i n n i n g t o l e a k i n t o l y r i c p o e t r y , a n d t h e s t a t i c " r e n a i s s a n c e " s y m m e t r y i s b e g i n n i n g t o b r e a k d o w n . B u t S i d n e y ' s g r e a t e s t i m p o r t a n c e i s f o r t h e p o e t r y he w r o t e w i t h i n t h e H i g h R e n a i s s a n c e t r a d i t i o n ; a n d h i s s u c c e s s i n h a n d l i n g t h e r e n a i s s a n c e c o n v e n t i o n s i s p r o b -a b l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i m m e d i a t e s u c c e s s a n d p o w e r f u l i n f l u e n c e o f A s t r o p h e l a n d S t e l l a . I n w h a t i s b e l i e v e d t o be h i s l a s t s o n n e t , S i d n e y r e p u d i a t e s t h e L o v e God o n c e m o r e ; i n f a c t he r e p u d i a t e s e a r t h l y l o v e a l t o g e t h e r , l e a v i n g one t o w o n d e r w h a t s o r t o f p o e t r y he m i g h t have w r i t t e n i f he h a d l i v e d t h r o u g h Z u t p h e n . B u t t h e r e p u -d i a t i o n s t i l l h a s a c o n v e n t i o n a l r i n g : L e a v e me 3 L o v e , w h i c h r e a c h e s t b u t t o d u s t , A n d t h o u my m i n d a s p i r e t o h i g h e r t h i n g s : Grow r i c h i n t h a t w h i c h n e v e r t a k e t h r u s t : W h a t e v e r f a d e s b u t f a d i n g p l e a s u r e b r i n g s . Draw i n t h y b e a m e s , and humb le a l l t h y m i g h t , To t h a t s w e e t y o k e , w h e r e l a s t i n g f r e e d o m e s b e : W h i c h b r e a k e s t h e c l o w d e s a n d o p e n s f o r t h t h e l i g h t . T h a t d o t h b o t h s h i n e and g i v e u s l i g h t t o s e e . 0 t a k e f a s t h o l d , l e t t h a t l i g h t be t h y g u i d e , I n t h i s s m a l l c o u r s e w h i c h b i r t h d r a w e s o u t t o d e a t h , A n d t h i n k e how e v i l l becommeth h i m t o s l i d e , Who s e e k e t h h e a v ' n , a n d comes o f h e a v ' n l y b r e a t h . T h e n f a r e w e l l w o r l d , t h y u t t e r m o s t I s e e , E t e r n a l l L o v e m a i n t a i n e t h y l i f e i n m e . S p l e n d i d i s l o n g u m v a l e d i c o n u g i s . 6 4 64 C e r t a i n e S o n n e t s . F e u i l l e r a t , p . 3 2 2 . Shakespeare By the time Shakespeare's Sonnets came to press in 1609 the great flood of sonnet-sequences which had begun with Astrophel and Stella in 1591 had pretty well exhaus-ted i t s resources. Some of i t s better known products had been Daniel's Delia and Constable's Diana in 1598, Barnes' Parthenophll, Giles Fletcher's Licia, and Watson's Tears of Fancy in 1593, Percy's Sonnets to Coelia and Drayton's Ideas Mirrour in 1594, Barnes' Spiritual Sonnets. Barn-field's Cynthia, and of course Spenser's Amoretti in 1595, Lynche's Diella in 1596, and Tofte's Laura in 1597. There were a number of other sequences, but the great majority were published before the turn of the century, by which time the public appetite for such verse seems to have been sated. In most of this poetry there is no remarkable de-parture from the pattern set by Astrophel and Stella: as we have seen, Sidney's sonnets are f u l l of protest against standardization; less emphatically, certain of the other sonneteers such as Daniel and Drayton raised similar objec-tions. 5^ i t had been clear to Sidney almost as soon as he started writing sonnets that there was something lacking, something rather lifeless in the conventions in which he 65 See Daniel. Delia. XLYI; Drayton. Poems (1599), XXXE. and his contemporaries fel# constrained to write, some-thing which he f e l t a constant need to excuse or r i d i c u l e . He made the best of the High Renaissance conventions, con-tri b u t i n g a good deal to their vigour with his mild mock-ery; and his less capable contemporaries followed suit, as far as they were able, trying desperately to refashion the old material into something new. But with the exception of Spenser, whose rhet o r i c a l a b i l i t i e s enabled him to work most productively with the Elizabethan stock-in-trade, no poet was able to match the o r i g i n a l i t y of Sidney's achieve-ments consistently; and by the end of the century the son-net's popularity had suffered a marked decline; In Astrophel and St e l l a the interplay of c h i v a l r i c attitudes and Elizabethan response had reached Its maximum tension. A peculiar set of circumstances, a particular cast of mind, had sustained this tension throughout Sidney's sequence; but the achievement could neither be repeated nor surpassed. Hence, while more f l e x i b l e mediums developed new modes of expression, the sonnet, which seemed to offer so much, faxled by and large i n performance. Conven-tion no longer evoked response, and subject-matter sundered i t s e l f from form. Only through a major creative e f f o r t , comparable to that of Petrarch him-sel f i n his r e v i t a l i z a t i o n of the Troubador i n h e r i -tance, would the sonnet once more answer f u l l y to the needs of the age. °° The major creative effort, which had a limited influence compared to that of Petrarch,- was made by Shakespeare. The sonnets of Shakespeare number well over a hundred 55 and sixty, including two poems of disputed authorship at the end of the 1609 edition, and a number of others scat-tered here and there throughout the plays, especially in Love * s Labour's Lost. where some seven sonnets are woven into the dramatic fabric. The problem of dating these poems with any accuracy, even most of those in the plays, permits no definite conclusion. But i t is widely agreed among scholars and crit i c s , from the indications offered by a large number of parallels with the drama and on the basis of internal textual and stylistic evidence, that the Sonnets were probably begun about 1592, when the sonnet had just attained its immense popularity in England, and when Shakespeare was s t i l l working to sharpen his "pupill pen" and enrich his "barren rime." 6 7 The terminal date, however, is a less definite matter. Tucker Brooke sets 1595 or perhaps 1596 as the outside limit: i t is obvious...that the time for an intelligent man to write sonnets was before 1596, and not af-ter that year, for by 1596 the Elizabethan sonnet was evidently a drug on the market and continued to be written only by a few Bourbons like Drayton and Drummond. 6 8 But such dogma is not easy to support. The truth of the 67 Shakespeare. Sonnets. X7III. A Hew Variorum Edition" of Shakespeare: The Sonnets, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, Phil-adelphia & London: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1944. 68 Tucker Brooke, ed., Shakespeare*s Sonnets. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1936, p. 10. 56 m a t t e r i s t h a t no one i s s u r e . S h a k e s p e a r e was u n d o u b t -e d l y a h i g h l y u n u s u a l p e r s o n a l i t y , a n d a l t h o u g h he may h a v e f o l l o w e d t h e demands o f p o p u l a r t a s t e a s he g e n e r -a l l y d i d i n h i s d r a m a t i c w o r k s , t h e r e i s no good r e a s o n t o assume t h i s o u t o f h a n d . The S o n n e t s w e r e p u b l i s h e d d u r i n g t h e p o e t ' s l i f e t i m e o n l y i n Thomas T h o r p e ' s a s s u -m e d l y p i r a t e d e d i t i o n , a n d t h e y w e r e b y no means n e c e s s a -r i l y i n t e n d e d f o r a p o p u l a r a u d i e n c e . M o r e o v e r , s o n n e t s w e r e s t i l l b e i n g w r i t t e n a n d p u b l i s h e d i n some q u a n t i t y a s l a t e a s t h e t u r n o f t h e c e n t u r y ; a n d S h a k e s p e a r e h i m -s e l f c o n t i n u e d t o w r i t e t h e m i n t o t h e p l a y s : i n H e n r y V , w h i c h was w r i t t e n i n 1 5 9 9 , t h e e p i l o g u e t a k e s t h e f o r m o f a s o n n e t ; a n d i n A l l * s W e l l T h a t E n d s W e l l , w h i c h i s n o t b e l i e v e d t o h a v e b e e n w r i t t e n u n t i l a f t e r 1 6 0 1 , L a d y H e l e n a w r i t e s a s o n n e t - e p i s t l e i n t h e same v e i n a s t h o s e i n L o v e * s L a b o u r ' s L o s t . One c a n o n l y c o n j e c t u r e f r o m e v i d e n c e o f s t y l e , and s u c h e v i d e n c e d o e s n o t p r o h i b i t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f some o f t h e S o n n e t s b e i n g w r i t t e n l a t e i n t h e f i r s t d e c a d e o f t h e s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y . S h a k e s p e a r e ' s c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t and r e v i t a l i z a t i o n o f t h e s o n n e t w e r e n o t a c c o m p l i s h e d i n a d a y . T h e r e i s more t h a n a l i t t l e i n t h e S o n n e t s , p a r t i -c u l a r l y i n t h e e a r l i e r p o r t i o n o f t h e s e q u e n c e w h i c h i s g e n e r a l l y a g r e e d t o be o f r e l a t i v e l y e a r l y c o m p o s i t i o n , t h a t i s a l m o s t e n t i r e l y c o n v e n t i o n a l a n d b e l o n g s , a s one 57 might naturally expect, with the standard sonneteering practice of Shakespeare's contemporaries in the earlier 1590*s. Shakespeare learned his lyric techniques in the same way that he learned to write drama, by imitation as well as by experiment: Shall I compare thee to a Summers day? Thou art more louely and more temperate: Rough windes do shake the darling buds of Male, And Sommers lease hath a l l too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heauen shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd, And euery faire from faire some-time declines, By chance, or natures changing course vntrim'd: But thy eternall Sommer shall not fade, Nor loose possession of that faire thou ow'st, For shall death brag thou wandr'st in his shade, When in eternall lines to time thou grow'st, So long as men can breath or eyes can see, So long Hues this, and this giues l i f e to thee. The structure of the poem—the rhyme-scheme, the regular heroic metrical pattern, the positioning of the caesurae, the self-contained, carefully end-stopped lines, the di-vision into octave and sestet, quatrains and eouplet, the measured, geometrically patterned development of thought, and the general overall symmetry of construction—is typ-ical of thousands of sonnets published in the 1590's; the problem of mutability is stock material toward the end of the century; and the treatment of this material, the com-parison of the lover's character and appearance with the 69 Sonnets. XVIII. 58 beauties of nature, and the somewhat facile assurance of his immortality through poetry, is commonplace among sonneteers since the days of Petrarch. In faet, in the f i r s t part of the sequence Shakespeare owes a good deal to Petrarchanism: the studied humility, the bondage of the poet to his subject, and the terms In which this re-lationship is expressed, are necessary observances of courtly love: Lord of my loue, to whome in vassalage Thy merrit hath my dutie strongly knit, To thee I send this written ambassage, To witnesse duty, not to shew my wit. 7 0 And the obscurity of the identity of this "Lord" is quite consistent with the Petrarchan lover's obligation to keep the name of his loved one secret. The apellation "Lord," incidentally, does not in itself even reveal the gender of Shakespeare's companion: the Petrarchan poets give their mistresses the same t i t l e . To a certain extent, even Shakespeare's rhetoric, which is on the whole chiefly responsible for the imagin-ative power of these early sonnets, bears the marked im-print of conventionality. In "Shall I compare thee to a Summers day," the word play upon "faire" i s reminiscent of Spenser, and such phrases as "the eye of heauen" are 70 Sonnets. SOT. 59 about as hackneyed as they come. And Shakespeare i s rather fond of a favourite rhetorical device of the High Renaissance—paronomasia, or, as E. K. would say, *a play-ing with the word": Take a l l my loues, my loue, yea, take them a l l , What hast thou then more then thou hadst before? No loue, my loue, that thou maist true loue c a l l ; A l l mine was thine, before thou hadst this more: Then, i f for my loue, thou my loue recieuest, I cannot blame thee, for my loue thou vsest. To a certain extent Shakespeare, like Spenser, is laying out a sort of rhetorical tapestry, which is highly orna-mented and attractive in i t s embellishments, but which, after the fashion of tapestry (or of such renaissance painters as Bottice l l i ) , has a l l i t s substance in the pic-ture plane and lacks the convincing depth of perspective to which the modern mind has become accustomed. A second look at the sequence, however, even at the early portion, reveals certain qualities that are atypical. In the f i r s t place, although the poet's attitude i s , gen-erally speaking, that of the Petrarchan lover, and although much of the terminology comes from the language of courtly love, the object of the poet's admiration is, during the greater part of the sequence, a young man; and though cer-tain of the European sonneteers had adopted such a pose in 71 Sonnets, XL; of. Amoretti, XLI, pp. 57-58 preceding. 60 i n d i v i d u a l , i s o l a t e d p o e m s , 7 2 none h a d s u s t a i n e d i t a t a n y c o n s i d e r a b l e l e n g t h . T h u s t h e w h o l e f r a m e w o r k i s s e t a l i t t l e a s k e w , g i v e n a d i f f e r e n t , r a t h e r o d d p e r s p e c t i v e , and S h a k e s p e a r e ' s t y p i c a l l y h y p e r b o l i c o u t b u r s t s a r e c a s t i n a somewhat u n u s u a l l i g h t . S e c o n d l y , u n l i k e n e a r l y a l l o t h e r E n g l i s h s o n n e t e e r s b e f o r e h i m , S h a k e s p e a r e owes a l -m o s t n o t h i n g , a t l e a s t d i r e c t l y , t o E u r o p e a n s o u r c e s : e x e e p t f o r t h e l a s t t w o s o n n e t s , w h o s e a u t h e n -t i c i t y h a s b e e n d o u b t e d a n d w h i c h a r e g e n e r a l l y r e g a r d e d a s a d a p t a t i o n s o f a theme u l t i m a t e l y d e r i v e d f r o m t h e G r e e k A n t h o l o g y , no S h a k e s p e a r -e a n s o n n e t seems w h o l l y m o d e l l e d o n f o r e i g n o r -i g i n a l s . 7 3 I n f a c t , a s J a n e t S c o t t d e m o n s t r a t e s i n h e r w e l l known s t u d y o f t h e E l i z a b e t h a n s o n n e t , t h o u g h S h a k e s p e a r e d o e s a p p e a r t o d r a w some o f h i s i m a g e r y a n d e v e n h i s p h r a s e -o l o g y f r o m h i s E n g l i s h p r e d e c e s s o r s , p a r t i c u l a r l y f r o m D a n i e l , m o s t a t t e m p t s t o e s t a b l i s h d e f i n i t e a n d s p e c i f i c f o r e i g n s o u r c e s f o r a n y o f t h e m a t e r i a l i n t h e S o n n e t s ( i n I t a l y o r F r a n c e , f o r i n s t a n c e , w h e r e t h e E n g l i s h s o n -n e t e e r s h a d t r a d i t i o n a l l y f o u n d t h e i r f a v o u r i t e m o d e l s ) a r e h i g h l y t e n u o u s a t b e s t . 7 4 C o n e o m m i t a n t w i t h t h i s 72 J a n e t S c o t t . L e s s o n n e t s e ' l i s a b e ' t h a i n s : l e s s o u r c e s e t l ' a p p o r t p e r s o n n e l . P a r i s : C h a m p i o n , 1 9 2 9 , p . 2 3 7 . 73 C l a e s S c h a a r , " A n E l i z a b e t h a n S o n n e t P r o b l e m , w L u n d S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h . X X V I I I ( I 9 6 0 ) , , p . 1 9 . 74 S c o t t , p . 234 f f . 61 eharacteristic of Shakespearean sonneteering techniques in his tendency to rely more upon his own resources for rhetoric, imagery, and symbolism, as well as for the more general features of subject matter, and alongside the con-ventional elements of his expression, to represent his im-pressions and emotions in a more realistic light, rather than to employ the quasi-allegorical methods of poets like Sidney and Spenser. He protests, like Sidney, against Renaissance a r t i f i c i a l i t y : So is i t not with me as with that Muse, Stird by a painted beauty to his verse, Who heauen i t selfe for ornament doth vse, And euery faire with his faire doth reherse, Making a coopelment of proud compare With Sunne and Moone, with earth and seas rich gems: With Aprills f i r s t borne flowers and a l l things rare, That heauens ayre in this huge rondure hems, 0 let me true in love but truly write, And then beleeve me, my loue is as faire, As any mothers childe, though not so bright As those gould candells fixt in heauens ayer: Let them say more that like of heare-say well, I w i l l not prayse, that purpose not to s e l l . '5 And as his poetic techniques develop, so does his realism become more and more pronounced, until ultimately, the old Elizabethan conventions are so reworked, reapplied, or f l a t -ly rejected (as in the well-known parody which is the last word on Petrarchanism that a new kind of sonnet begins to take shape. 75 Sonnets. XXI. 76 Sonnets. CXXX^  62 As we move toward the latter end of Shakespeare's sequence new and unusual qualities begin to emerge, and those peculiarities which were beneath the surface in the early poems become prominent. The structural modi-fications are perhaps not so astounding, although here and there there are certainly some striking effects: one sonnet has fifteen lines; one i s not a sonnet at a l l and has only twelve lines, consisting in six couplets; and one is written in tetrameters; 7 7 there is a greater ten-dency toward enjambment and a higher frequency of "mis-placed" caesurae; the quatrains do not always remain dis-tinct, and the volta between octave and sestet is some-times shifted around; the rhythm in general becomes less regular: Th'expenoe of Spirit in a waste of shame Is lust in action, and t i l l action, lust Is periurd, murdrous, blouddy f u l l of blame, Sauage, extreame, rude, cruell, not to trust, Inioyed no sooner but dispised straight, Past reason hunted, and no sooner had Past reason hated as a swollowed bayt, On purpose layd to make the taker mad. Made in pursuit and in possession so, Had, hauing, and in quest, to haue extreame, A blisse in proofe and proud a very wo, Before a joy proposed behind a dreame, A l l this the world well knowes yet none knowes well, To shun the heauen that leads men to this h e l l . 7 8 Such rhythmical fitfulness is surprising enough, not in i t s 77 Sonnets. XCIX, CXLY, and CXXVI. 78 Sonnets. CXXIX. 63 technicalities alone, but in its particular appropriate-ness for the subject matter, and in the jarring response i t is thus able to evoke. In other areas, however, the effects are even more startling. As we can see from the foregoing sonnet, Shakespeare moves away from the narra-tive techniques he has been pursuing in Tenus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, and adopts a dramatic stance, giving his poetry a much more personal quality and the appearance of a greater immediacy. Sexual matters are treated in much more explicit and apparently disturbing terms; throughout the latter part of the Sonnets, begin-ning with the "Dark Lady** sequence, sex becomes so promi-nent a theme and is approached with such intent scrutiny and so destructively that i t borders upon erotic obses-sion, psychologically akin to the morbid obsession which characterizes a large portion of Donne's religious verse. The last vestige of courtly idealism is utterly denied, and Petrarchanism is turned inside out: Who taught thee how to make me loue thee more, The more I hear and see lust cause of hate, Oh though I loue what others doe abhor, With others thou shouldst not abhor my state. If thy vnworthinesse raisd loue in me. More worthy I to be belou'd of thee. 7 9 As this part of the sequence draws toward i t s close, the 79 Sonnets, CL. 64 poetry draws further and further away from the sweetness and light of the High Renaissance tradition from which i t originally sprang: the ambiguities mount one upon another; puns become innumerable; paradox, usually the deliberately sophistical variety which so appealed to Donne's perverse sense of humour, replaces the bland renaissance epigram; the element of obscenity becomes prominent; and a l l the psychic irregularities (apparently stimulated by potent guilt complex ®0) tend to become shrouded in a rhetorical obscurity: Who euer hath her wish, thou hast thy Will, And Will to boote, and Will in ouer-plus, More then enough am I that vexe thee s t i l l , To thy sweete w i l l making addition thus. Wilt thou whose w i l l is large and spatious, Hot once vouchsafe to hide my w i l l in thine? Shall will in others seem right gracious, And in my w i l l no faire acceptance shine? The sea a l l water, yet receiues raine s t i l l , And in aboundance addeth to his store; So thou beeing rich in Will adde to thy Will One w i l l of mine to make thy large Will more. Let no vnkind, no faire beseechers k i l l , Think a l l in one, and me in that one Will. Superficially, the poem is typical of the High Renaissance tradition, but beneath the surface there i s a new conscious-ness of the meaning rather than the mere sound of words, and a new consciousness of the absurdities which can arise from ambiguity. The typical renaissance fascination with word 80 See Sonnets. LXXI, LXXII. 81 Sonnets, CXXXV. 65 p l a y ( p a r o n o m a s i a ) i s s t i l l a p p a r e n t , a s i t w a s i n S p e n -s e r , 8 2 b u t t h e f a c i l e d e l i c a c y o f S p e n s e r ' s l a n g u a g e h a s b e e n i n v e r t e d : t h e p u n s o n " W i l l " a r e c l e a r l y o b s c e n e , a t l e a s t o n one l e v e l . The p e t i t i o n f o r g r a c e , o r p i t e e . i s d e v e l o p e d a t l e n g t h , a s u s u a l , a n d i n i t s g l i b u s e o f a n -a l o g y i t i s i d e n t i c a l i n f o r m t o t h e t y p i c a l E l i z a b e t h a n a r g u m e n t u s e d , f o r e x a m p l e , by S p e n s e r ; 8 3 b u t s u e h f a r -f e t c h e d i n d u c e m e n t s a s " T h e s e a a l l w a t e r , y e t r e e e i u e s r a i n e s t i l l " a r e n o t o n l y p r e p o s t e r o u s b u t d o w n r i g h t i n -s u l t i n g ( a n d o f c o u r s e h i g h l y a m u s i n g ) . The H i g h R e n a i s -s a n c e t r a d i t i o n h a s b e e n t u r n e d u p s i d e down; a l l t h e s t a n -d a r d e l e m e n t s a r e t h e r e , b u t t h e y h a v e b e e n u s e d c h i e f l y t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h e i r own a b s u r d i t i e s a n d , i r o n i c a l l y , t o d e f e a t t h e i r own e n d s . S h a k e s p e a r e h a s l o o k e d u p o n t r u t h " a s k a n c e a n d s t r a n g e l y , " " g o r ' d h i s own t h o u g h t s , " " s o l d cheap what i s m o s t d e a r e , " 8 4 a n d h e r a l d e d i n t h e age o f m a n n e r i s m w h i c h i s t o be p r e s i d e d o v e r b y D o n n e . 82 See A m o r e t t l . X L I , p p . 3 7 - 3 8 p r e c e d i n g . 83 S e e , e . g . , A m o r e t t i , X X , 5 f f . 84 S o n n e t s . OX. Donne The manifold tensions beneath the ordered world of the High Renaissance could not be suppressed forever: a l l the stabilizing forces, the philosophical and social cer-tainties, gradually became subject to change and disrup-tion. In Spenser himself the old attitudes begin to wear thin toward the end: When I bethinke me on that speech whyleare, Of Mutability, and well i t way: Me seemes, that though she a l l vnworthy were Of the Heav'ns Rule; yet very sooth to say, In a l l things else she bears the greatest sway. In Sidney the problem is even more apparent; and by the time Shakespeare was writing his later sonnets the renais-sance poetic had run its course. The world-shaking upheav-als and discoveries of the sixteenth century were finally beginning to take effect in l i f e and thought generally, and to be reflected In the consequent form and style of the arts of the period. The delicate a r t i f i c i a l i t y of Petrar-chan! sm had grown tiresome, and the quality of its literary product had degenerated to that of mere exercise, express-ing sentiments which had l i t t l e or no rapport with the new ideas which were beginning to dominate the time. A l l the 85 Mutability Cantos, VIII. T. 67 conventions of courtly love had onee been beautifully or-dered and seductively explicit, but they had long outlived their original purpose; the whole status of the individual had altered radically, and i t could no longer be adequately represented in such an a r t i f i c i a l l y ordered pattern as the Elizabethan poets would have had i t . The structure of the universe i t s e l f had been disrupted: Ficino and the great humanists of the sixteenth century who followed him, Coper-nicus and the great astronomers, had given the macrocosm a paradoxical new order, the former pushing man towards it s centre and the latter moving the earth away. And Calvin had attacked the core of mediaeval religion, denying free w i l l and insisting on predestination, and yet, by means of another paradox, shifting the responsibility of interpret-ing God's w i l l from an infallible church to the f a l l i b l e rational faeulty of the individual. The force of these ideas was cumulative, and after a temporary calm, ancient and comfortable social, ethical, and religious principles were undermined in their basic foundations, and a feeling of profound doubt oppressed every area of man's existence. The growing disorder imposed altogether new demands upon the poet. The complexity of man's altered status gave rise to a corresponding complexity in the matter and manner of his literary expression. The humanists' emphasis on the individual and upon the rational function, the f u l l force of 68 which was only now really being put into practise in Eng-land, invited a much more personal and distinctly rational treatment of more personal and immediate problems. And the prevailing uncertainty demanded a more careful, analytic, and all-absorbing method of investigation, one which took nothing for granted, and one which regarded nothing as too sacred to undergo, i f necessary, t r i a l by f i r e . It was the task of the poet to reunify the disparate elements of a shattered world; but the legacy of the sixteenth century was not equal to the task. The result was mannerism, and this new style, which we have seen breaking through in the later sonnets of Shakespeare, is exemplified most clearly and consistently in the poetry of Donne. Donne is extremely alive, perhaps more so than any of his near contemporaries but Shakespeare, to the magnitude of the problems facing the early seventeenth century. The well-known passage from An Anatomie of the World sums up the dreadful implications of Copernican astronomy: Then, as mankinde, so is the whole world's frame Quite out of joynt, almost created lame: For, before God had made up a l l the rest Corruption entred, and depraved the best: And new Philosophy calls a l l in doubt, The Element of fire Is quite put out; The Sun is lost, and th»earth, and no mans wit Can well direct him where to looke for It. 8 6 86 Donne, An Anatomie of the World. 191-208, Grierson, Poems of Donne, vol. I, p. 237. 69 Sixteenth century order has been utterly shattered, and neither Donne nor anyone else has been able to produce a satisfactory substitute. He must make the best he can of the old renaissance tradition, like many of his contempor-aries who have been similarly disturbed, but he is bound to treat i t in an entirely different way: without wasting time on any proclamation that this is 'the new poetry' or on any denigration of his pre-decessors, Donne creates a kind of poetry that had never been heard before. 8 7 Sidney had protested vigorously against the old rhetorical conventions but he had been able to do very l i t t l e to alter them; Donne protested very l i t t l e but he altered them radi-cally. And the differences, the realignments and disalign-ments of the High Renaissance tradition, are made graphic-ally vivid in Donne's Holy Sonnets. Donne had written other sonnets. In a sequence ealled La Corona, written earlier in his career, ® 8 he employed a good many of the conventions of style with which he later becomes so impatient; but the Holy Sonnets are something new: they present an immediate surprise, even to the modern sen-s i b i l i t y which is accustomed to a l l sorts of peculiarities of style. Donne incorporates many of the conventions of the 87 Lewis. Sixteenth Century English Literature, p. 548. 88 Crierson dates i t between 1597 & 1609: vol. II, p. 226. 70 High Renaissance into his work, and at the same time he implicitly repudiates them, in a way somewhat similar to that of Shakespeare in the sonnets I have discussed in the foregoing. In the f i r s t place, these poems are, a l l but one, on specifically religious subjects; and yet they were written at a time when the sonnet had been firmly estab-lished as a vehicle for the expression of earthly love, and had seldom been used for sacred purposes. It is sig-nificant that although Donne wrote a good deal of love po-etry he wrote no love sonnets, as far as we can be sure: for such purposes the form had already been thoroughly ex-ploited and had become t r i t e . But Donne employs the sonnet as i f he s t i l l regarded i t as a secular form, and he treats religion as i f , in a sense, It were profane. He treats God as a concrete, tangible entity; he speaks to him directly, and with much more passion than any Elizabethan sonneteer ever used to importune his mistress; and he speaks in ex-p l i c i t l y sexual terms: Divorce mee, 'untie, or breake that knot; Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free, For ever chast, except you ravish mee. 8* Spenser's profane love is a distant and holy abstraction; Donne's divine love is an immediate and worldly reality. 89 Holy Sonnets. XIV. 71 A l l his experience is intensely personal, and his vision, the mannerist vision, is the product of a peculiar psycho-logy, related, in some respects, to that of Hamlet: self-conscious, uncertain, neurotic, exhibitionist—it is d i f f i -cult to describe. He is obsessed with mortality, and he constantly equates death with sex. The ambiguous use of the word "die" is commonplace in the Renaissance, but where the Elizabethans had seen sexual intercourse as a figura-tive death, Donne pereeives death in terms of a violent and final orgasm: "...my good is dead,/ And her Soule early into heaven ravished." 9 ^ He makes a concerted effort to cast a new and eerie light upon the commonplace, and to shock his readers into thinking about the peculiarities of their own personalities. The personal tone throughout Donne's poetry, secular and religious alike, is abetted by the generous use of the-atrical deviees. What C. S. Lewis observes of the love-poetry Is true of the Holy Sonnets also: ...Donne's lyrics are dramatic; they sound like an ex tempore speech and imply a concrete situ-ation. They rap out an answer to something a l -ready said...or start a conversation by expres-sing some thought as i f i t had that moment come into his mind. 91 At times his enthusiasm might lead him to sensationalism 90 Holy Sonnets. XVTI. 91 Lewis, loc. cit"] 72 or melodrama, but he redeems himself a hundredfold, with passages of superb dramatic power which are rare in lyr i c poetry in any language or from any period. He may recall a violent Biblical scene: Spit in my face yee Jewes, and pierce my side, Buffet, and scoffe, scourge, and crucifie mee; 9 2 he may dramatize an impassioned one-sided debate with his wayward soul: Wilt thou love God, as hee thee? then digest My Soule, this wholsome meditation; 9 3 or he may blurt out some horrible apprehension whieh has been plaguing him for weeks: What i f this present were the worlds last night? 9 4 but whatever his method, he always gives the impression of immediacy and spontaneity. He moves the sonnet away from the tradition of narrative poetry whieh had dominated i t for so long, and like Shakespeare, he draws i t toward the drama which had so recently come of age. And the form is flexible enough to adapt readily to a l l the new demands. In one of these poems he bursts recklessly in upon the scene, demanding, in a characteristic display of hubris, 92 Holy Sonnets. TT. 93 Holy Sonnets. W. 94 Holy Sonnets, XIII. 73 that God proclaim the Day of Judgment immediately: At the round earth's imagin'd corners, blow Your trumpets, Angles, and arise, arise From death, you numberlesse infinities Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe. "Imagined" corners? Presumably the image is derived u l t i -mately from the Apocalyptic vision of St. John the Divine, who saw "...four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds"; 9 6 and possibly Donne also has in mind the typical Renaissance map of the world, which often depicted trumpeting figures in each of the four cor-ners; but he cannot restrain himself from a scrupulous ob-jection to the fallacy of this conception, even at such an awe-inspiring moment as this: It would never have occurred to most Renaissance poets to throw in this skeptical, empirical quali-fication into a poetic picture of the Day of Judg-ment.... Their imaginations were more at home with myth. Donne's mind seems nowhere more scientific in i t s biases, and more psychologically unlike the imaginations of many of his literary contemporaries, than in his estrangement from the myth making fac-ulty of mind, to which the scientific attitude has been, from it s inception, an inveterate foe. 9 7 Yet despite Donne's punctilious objection to this ancient Biblical myth, or perhaps by its aid, the spontaneity of 95 Holy Sonnets. VIII. 96 Rev. v i i , 1. 97 Clay Hunt, Donne's Poetry. Hew Haven: Yale Univer-sity Press, 1954, p. 159. 74 tone is sustained throughout the poem. Donne has hardly uttered his reckless, irreverent demand, when he becomes aware of his over-weening pride and desperately retracts what he has said: But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space, For, i f above a l l these, my sinnes abound, , fPis late to aske abundance of thy grace, ; When wee are there; here on this lowly ground, Teach mee how to repent; for that's as good As i f thou'hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood. 9 8 He creates the illusion that he had no complete, unified conception before he set the poem down on paper, but that he wrote i t line by line, as i t occurred to him: he thinks in the poem, so to speak. When he has considered the pro-position from its various points of view he discovers that he has led himself into a trap, and he does not hesitate to change his tack entirely. Despite i t s intimacy and i t s emotional power, Donne's poetry has an extremely logical texture, albeit a strained and murky logic which carries the excesses of Scholasticism to even further extremes. Donne's imagination seems to have been able to assimilate ideas and images from every area of his broad experience, and he had the f a c i l i t y for discover-ing the most recondite similarities between them. Certainly most poetic imagery derives from a perceived likeness between 98 Holy Sonnets. T i l l . 75 different objects and different situations; the peculiar-ity of Donne's mind is not that he relates such dissimilar things, but that the relations which he perceives are more often logical than sensuous or emotional, and that he con-stantly connects the remote with the near, the intellec-tual with the sensual, the abstract with the concrete, the sublime with the commonplace, and the macrocosm with the microcosm. 9 9 The method of Donne's logic is distinctly analytic: he probes every image again and again until he has rooted out a l l the peculiar and obscure meanings that he can make use of. Dr. Johnson once remarked disdainfully of Donne and his adherents, that: Those writers who lay on the watch for novelty could have l i t t l e hope for greatness; for great things can-not have escaped former observation. Their attempts were always analytick: they broke every Image into fragments, and could no more represent by their slen-der conceits and laboured particularities the pros-pects of nature or the scenes of l i f e , than he who dissects a sunbeam with a prism can exhibit the wide effulgence of a summer noon. 1^0 If Dr. Johnson's conceit has something of the "far-fetched" quality for which he reprimands Donne, i t i s , in his own words, "worth the carriage": i t suggests the meticulous, 99 See Joan Bennett. Four Metaphysical Poets, Cambridge: University Press, 1953, p. 3. 100 Johnson, "The Life of Cowley," Selected Prose, ed. B. H. Bronson, New York: Rinehart and Co., 1952, p. 470. 76 self-conscious, skeptical attitude Donne has toward a l l ideas, and i t suggests the lengths Donne is prepared to go to, to display this attitude. Sometimes he w i l l investi-gate a l l the various aspects of a single Image to f i l l out a single poem: Show me deare Christ, thy spouse, so bright and clear. What? is i t She, which on the other shore Goes richly painted? or which rob'd and tore Laments and mournes In Germany and here? Sleepes she a thousand, then peepes up one yeare? Is she self-truth and errs? now new, now outwore? Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore On one, on seaven, or on no h i l l appeare? Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights First travaile we to seeke and then make Love? Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights, And let myne amorous soule court thy mild Dove, Who is most trew, and pleasing to thee, then When she' is embrac'd and open to most men. This poem i s , as nearly as possible, typical of Donne, and i t represents a l l the important features of mannerism as well as one could hope. Donne begins with a simple prayer which is characteristically misleading in i t s straightfor-wardness, using the hackneyed image of Christ's Bride to represent the Christian Church. Then he ambiguously sug-gests an identity between the Bride of Christ and the Whore of Babylon, casting a new, somewhat skeptical light on the conventional image by deliberately misusing i t . He mocks the meretricious Catholic Church and scorns the austere 101 Holy Sonnets. XVTII. 77 Protestant. Then he exposes the doctrinal absurdities of both factions with a series of charged questions. It be-comes evident that Donne is seeking some sort of unity in Christendom, some supreme and unequivocal authority, but he clearly f a i l s to find i t : his interrogative method is symp-tomatic of his uncertainty. 1 0 2 i>he poem moves toward what should be a conclusion by rephrasing the plea of the f i r s t line: "Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights"; and i t ends with one of Donne's characteristic strained para-doxes. There is an obvious disparity between the apparent intention of the closing remark (a bid for religious toler-ance) and i t s irreverent, indecent implications (a sugges-tion of prostitution). And the problem is left hanging, with no attempt to resolve these contradictions and no sug-gestion of a satisfactory solution. If we did not know who wrote the poem we might suspect him of blasphemous parody; and yet the strength of Donne's faith i s beyond question. The prosodic elements of the poem are similarly frus-trated. Donne adopts the Italian sonnet as a pattern, with Wyatt's modification of the rhyme-scheme: abbaabba cdcdee; and he arouses the standard anticipations in the reader by 102 The predominance of questions is perhaps one of the typical features of mannerism. There are fewer than two dozen questions In the whole of the Amorettl; Astrophel and Stella has over sixty, but forty of these are in the last half of the sequence; Shakespeare has about twenty in the f i r s t f i f t y sonnets and forty in the last f i f t y ; and Donne has twenty-five in only nineteen sonnets. 78 f u l f i l l i n g the more obvious requirements of the form—a consistent rhyme-scheme, a length of fourteen lines, and, more or less, a decasyllabio line—and he affirms these anticipations by beginning the poem with a few lines ap-proximating regular iambic pentameter. Then he denies a l l the expectations he has stimulated, by distorting the rhythm as much as he can. After the f i r s t five lines he abandons the heroic line to produce an unpredictable, un-metrical cadence, interlarded at brief and irregular in-tervals by a variety of punctuating devices: Is she self truth and errs? now new, now outwore? Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore, On one, on seaven, or on no h i l l appeare? The effect i s fragmentary and rough. Donne end-stops some lines and allows others to run over, but he has no discern-ible system, except perhaps that of iconoclasm. The rhyme-scheme tends to divide the poem f i r s t of a l l into an octave and a sestet, then the octave into two quatrains, and the sestet into a quatrain and a couplet. But Donne's rhetoric Ignores these distinctions. His introduction is complete in the f i r s t line, and he promptly launches a barrage of awkward questions which continue until the end of the tenth line, disregarding the conventional volta at the end of the octave entirely, and ignoring the minor breaks between one quatrain and the next. The volta finally does occur at the 79 end of the tenth line, hut i t is so far out of i t s usual place that the delicate balance of the form is seriously-upset: the resolution must be drawn out in the limited space of the remaining four lines, and the effect is in-evitably one of strain and imbalance. The usual aphorism at the end of the sonnet here takes the form of a paradox, as i t frequently did in Shakespeare, and the repetition of the final couplet rhymes serves only to underline the per-verseness of Donne's mannerist logic. Thus mannerism works on two levels, psychological and technical. Donne's personal insecurity gives rise to the strained technical ingenuities of the mannerist style; his complex psychology, like that of the Jacobean dramatists and such mannerist painters as SI Greco, Tintoretto, and Carvaggio, the psychology which denies renaissance idealism and renaissance order, clashes also with conventional ideas of rhetoric and agitates the form and the phrase to the verge of dissolution; The clash between the psychological and rhetori-cal directions i s audible in the wavering caesura, the sliding metre, the wrenched accents. The ren-aissance sonnet did not try to accommodate these strains, which suggest the curious torment in man-nerist faith—and mannerist doubt. ma Svphert Four Stages of Renaissance Style. p. 130. Milton Mannerism was not born with Donne and i t did not die with him. It persisted well on into the seventeenth century—in the poetry of Marvell and Cowley, to cite two striking examples. But concurrent with the dislocations of mannerism, the new baroque temperament was gradually beginning to develop. The contradictions of Donne's view of things were slowly being resolved, and bit by bit the shattered mannerist world was reintegrating. The p o l i t i -cal and religious structures of England remained rather unstable until some time after the Restoration, but the new science, which had been so disturbing to Donne, para-doxically provided a cornerstone for the philosophic and cultural reintegrations which were to culminate in the solidarity of eighteenth century rationalism. This development took place gradually throughout the seventeenth century, but very early in the Jacobean period Bacon affirmed the importance of the scientific method in The Advancement of Learning, and conceived a gigantic plan for the categorization of a l l knowledge in his largest work, Magna Instauratlo. Despite the uncertainty and disillusion-ment of his contemporaries, Bacon was optimistic enough to declare enthusiastically: "I have taken a l l knowledge to 81 be my province." To his essentially modern temperament, knowledge was power; and his methods of investigation laid the foundation for the Royal Society. Contemporary with Bacon, Galileo's dynamic, baroque laws of force prepared for Newton's comprehensive physical theory; Kepler's ast-ronomy resolved the contradictions of Tycho Brahe's invol-ute universe; and Descartes' coordinate geometry, the math-ematics of motion, made calculus possible, and opened the boundless realms of modern science and modern technology. In English poetry the new temperament is represented f i r s t and foremost in the mature works of Milton; but the massive comprehensiveness of Paradise Lost grew out of the accumulated reflections of a lifetime, and was the result of a long process of development, from the typical renais-sance character of such poems as The Nativity Ode, through the unstable structures of Comus and Lycidas. The growth of Milton's baroque style is illustrated from its very be-ginnings, in his sonnets; and i t s fruition in Paradise Lost is anticipated in those last sonnets, "On the Late Massacre in Piemont," "On his Blindness," and "On his Wife." Milton's twenty-three sonnets were written sporadic-ally, over a period of about thirty years, and unlike those of his predecessors, they range about over a variety of un-related subjects, most of which had hitherto been consid-ered more appropriate for other poetic forms. He uses the 82 sonnet for verse epistles, occasional compliments, poli-t i c a l diatribes, elegiac tributes, personal reflections, and mere t r i f l e s . Certainly there are Elizabethan sonnets which depart from the conventional love-theme and stand as independent poems, but these are exceptional. Spenser and Sidney and even Shakespeare wrote what are loosely called sonnet-sequenees, and with few exceptions they confined their choice of subject to various aspects of courtship or love. Even the iconoclastic Donne preserved the thematic unity of the sequence-structure, reserving the form for different approaches to a single subject. Milton's use of the sonnet as an Independent poem requires that each stand upon its own merits: Milton cannot rely upon other poems in a series to carry the weight of an occasional weak ef-fort. Each poem must therefore convey the complete, self-contained expression of a single, unified thought: A l l Milton's sonnets...are of this individual char-acter. Each handles one main idea in such a way as to be self-sufficing; there is no dependence on any-thing that precedes or follows. 104 The f i r s t of Milton's sonnets, from about 1630, is a l i t t l e exercise entitled rt0 N i g h t i n g a l e I t is distinctly a renaissance piece, Italianate, derivative, standardized, constructed of diffuse, conventional imagery, and belonging 104 A. W. Verity, ed.. Milton's Sonnets. Cambridge: University Press, 1933, p. xxvi. 8 3 in every way to the Petrarchan tradition. The following five, written at about the same time, are a l l in Italian, and a l l are equally derivative. These are Milton's only love-poems, and the fact that he chooses to write about courtship only under the protection of a foreign tongue may well point toward his uneasiness with this aspect of the renaissance tradition: ...the penitential view of love which the Petrar-chan tradition implies, is alien to Milton's moral temper and these poems are consequently unconvin-cing. 1 0 5 Following the Italian group, Milton's next sonnet is the well-known reflection "On his Being Arrived at the Age of Twenty-three." Milton appears to have learned a good deal about the form through writing the five Italian poems. His style is s t i l l typically renaissance, but he has ach-ieved a greater mastery over the renaissance techniques: The quatrains are more carefully distinguished and internally balanced than in the sonnet on the Night-ingale, and in the tercets the poem makes i t s asser-tions with a striking outburst which we have seen Milton practising in Italian. 1 0 6 The question which the poem raises is perhaps more intimate than one would find in a renaissance sonnet. It has some 105 F. T. Prince. The Italian Element in Milton's Yerse. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954, p; 94. 106 Ibid., p. 96. 84 of the Immediacy of Donne's expression, and i t s personal import helps to free Milton from the diffuseness of Eliza-bethan poetry: How soon hath Time the suttle theef of youth, Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth yeerl My hasting dayes f l i e on with f u l l career, But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth, That I to manhood am arriv'd so near, And inward ripeness doth much less appear, That som more timely-happy spirits indu'th. 1 0 He uses a good many more words than he needs, to express a simple idea and a simple emotion, but the pleonasm is better disguised, less obviously redundant, than that of most renaissance sonnets; and in the sestet the thought exhibits some of the compact originality which is later to characterize Paradise Lost: A l l i s , i f I have grace to use i t so, As ever in my great task-Masters eye. But the measured regularity of the metre, the distinct separation of every line from these adjacent to i t , and the precise organization of the thought, stating the prob-lem in the octave and answering i t in the carefully dis-tinguished sestet, are a l l characteristic of the sonnets of the High Renaissance. 107 Milton. "Sonnet VII.» The Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955, vol. II, p. 149-150. 8 5 After this poem, Milton writes no more sonnets for a period of about ten years, but when he resumes with "When the Assault was Intended to the City," his style is essen-t i a l l y the same. The f i r s t clear signs of change do not appear until the eleventh sonnet, "On the Detraction which Followed upon my Writing Certain Treatises." Here, Milton no longer regards the form of the sonnet as sacrosanct, and he feels free to use i t as the spirit moves him. The subject of the poem is slight, and the tone, like that of the following sonnet, "On the Same," strangely combines a light-hearted wit with rather serious undertones. Simil-arly, the structure f a i l s to observe convention: A Book was writ of late call'd Tetrachordon; And wov'n close, both matter, form and st i l e ; The subject new: i t walk'd the Town a while, Numbring good Intellects; now seldom por'd on. Cries the stall-reader, bless us! what a word on A t i t l e page is this! and some in f i l e Stand spelling fals, while one might walk:to-Mile-End Green. Why i s It harder Sirs then Gordon, Colkitto, or Macdonnel, or Galasp? Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek That would have made Quintillian stare and gasp. Thy age, like ours, 0 Soul of Sir John Cheek. Hated not Learning wors then Toad or Asp; When thou taught*st Cambridge. and King Edward Greek. This near-parody of the sonnet reveals Milton's interest in the form: the studied awkwardness of such comie burlesque, of which one would hardly suspect Milton capable, is among the most difficult of a l l literary exercises. The diction 86 has a calculated lack of dignity, and the double rhymes, like strained puns, are designed to provoke a wry grimace. There is a lot of enjambment; the caesurae are likely to appear anywhere in the line; the distinctions between the octave and sestet, between quatrains and tercets, are lost; and the form has broken down and broken away from the ren-aissance tradition, repeating the metamorphosis which had produced the jarring metrics of Donne's Holy Sonnets many years before, and at the same time moving deviously toward the fluid rhythmical techniques which contribute so much to the magnificence of Milton's later works. Dr. Johnson's observation concerning these sonnets, that "Milton...was a genius that could cut a Colossus from a rock; but could not carve heads upon cherry stones," 10 8 i s indicative, not merely of the eighteenth century disdain of ly r i c poetry in general, but of Johnson's insensitivity to Milton's intention in the most serious of these poems. He was not attempting to make intricate l i t t l e word-patterns: the Elizabethans had already worked this to death; he wished to give his sonnets the weight and substance of much larger poems; to give them the appearance of the expansive verse paragraphs of Paradise Lost. The last eight of these poems, and (for technical reasons) especially the nineteenth, show 108 Boswell. Life of Johnson,'ed. C. G. Osgood, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917, p. 524. 87 M i l t o n ' s g r a n d s t y l e i n i t s m a t u r i t y , s t r i v i n g t o a c h i e v e t h e v a s t c o m p r e h e n s i v e n e s s a n d t h e a d a m a n t i n e i n t e g r i t y s o c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f b a r o q u e a r t : When I c o n s i d e r how my l i g h t i s s p e n t , E r e h a l f my d a y s , i n t h i s d a r k w o r l d a n d w i d e , A n d t h a t one T a l e n t w h i c h i s d e a t h t o h i d e , L o d g ' d w i t h me u s e l e s s , t h o u g h my S o u l more b e n t To s e r v e t h e r e w i t h my M a k e r , a n d p r e s e n t My t r u e a c c o u n t , l e a s t he r e t u r n i n g c h i d e , D o t h God e x a c t d a y - l a b o u r , l i g h t d e n y ' d , I f o n d l y a s k ; B u t p a t i e n c e t o p r e v e n t T h a t m u r m u r , s o o n r e p l i e s , God d o t h n o t n e e d E i t h e r m a n ' s w o r k o r h i s own g i f t s , who b e s t B e a r h i s m i l d e y o a k , t h e y s e r v e h i m b e s t , h i s S t a t e I s K i n g l y . T h o u s a n d s a t h i s b i d d i n g s p e e d A n d p o s t o ' r e L a n d a n d O c e a n w i t h o u t r e s t : T h e y a l s o s e r v e who o n l y s t a n d a n d w a i t e . T h i s poem was w r i t t e n p r o b a b l y l e s s t h a n t h r e e y e a r s a f t e r M i l t o n h a d b e e n s t r i c k e n w i t h t o t a l b l i n d n e s s i n 1 6 5 2 , 1 0 9 when t h e t e r r i b l e c a l a m i t y o f h i s s i t u a t i o n was s t i l l p a i n -f u l l y p r o m i n e n t i n h i s m i n d . I t opens w i t h a s t a t e m e n t o f d e s p a i r , a n d s l o w l y e x p a n d s t o c o n s i d e r a l l t h e s e r i o u s i m -p l i c a t i o n s o f h i s c o n d i t i o n . M i l t o n r e c a l l s t h e P a r a b l e o f t h e T a l e n t s w i t h a l l i t s a w e - i n s p i r i n g a s s o c i a t i o n s , a p -p a r e n t l y b e l i e v i n g t h a t h i s l o s s o f s i g h t m u s t mean t h e end o f h i s c a r e e r a s a p o e t , mus t mean t h a t t h e immense d e s i g n o f P a r a d i s e L o s t c a n n e v e r be r e a l i z e d , m u s t mean t h a t a l l t h e s t r e n g t h a n d p e n e t r a t i o n o f t h e p o e t i c v i s i o n i n w h i c h he h a s h a d so much c o n f i d e n c e i s doomed t o e x p i r e w i t h h i s 109 See M . Y . H u g h e s , e d . . J o h n M i l t o n : C o m p l e t e Poems & M a j o r P r o s e . Few Y o r k : The O d y s s e y P r e s s , 1 9 5 7 , p . 1 6 8 , n . 88 corporeal v i s i o n and put an end to h i s noblest a s p i r a -t i o n s . He i s a l l the more distraught to think that he i s no longer able to serve h i s God properly, and a l l the more apprehensive of the possible consequences of t h i s d e b i l i t y . But the r e s o l u t i o n , which has been a n t i c i p a t e d by the open-in g word, "When," since the very beginning of the poem, i s gradually unfolded: M i l t o n r i s e s above h i s self-concern and elevates h i s emotion i n t o a noble and u n i v e r s a l a f f i r -mation of the ultimate j u s t i c e of the ways of God. The s l i n g s and arrows of outrageous fortune become, to M i l t o n , but a mild yoke which man must bear f o r a l i t t l e space, under the watchful care of Divine Providence. In a sweep-i n g v i s i o n of thousands of angels hasting with boundless energy to the edges of the world, and thousands more gath-ered q u i e t l y about the throne of God, 1 1 0 the poem draws to i t s conclusion with a note of peaceful r e s i g n a t i o n . The broad comprehensiveness and expansiveness of t h i s son-net a r i s e i n part from the weighty, u n i v e r s a l i z e d theme, but just as much, from the c a r e f u l s e l e c t i o n of giant im-ages with vast archetypal associations. M i l t o n uses a l l the resources of h i s r h e t o r i c to give h i s complicated i n -volute expression the appearance of a s i n g l e , continuous, breathless utterance. 110 See A. W. V e r i t y , Milton's Sonnets, p. 55; see also De Doctrina G h r i s t i a n a , I , Ix, Hughes, p. 990. 89 T h e r h e t o r i c a l s t r u c t u r e o f t h e poem c o n s i s t s i n a l o n g b a l a n c e d c o m p l e x s e n t e n c e f o l l o w e d b y a s h o r t l o o s e compound s e n t e n c e . The f o r m e r b e g i n s w i t h a s e r i e s o f s u b o r d i n a t e c l a u s e s s t r u n g o u t one a f t e r a n o t h e r , a n d t h e m a i n v e r b , " a s k , " i s r e t a i n e d u n t i l m i d - w a y i n t h e e i g h t h l i n e , t h u s h o l d i n g t h e r e a d e r ' s g r a m m a t i c a l e x p e c t a t i o n s i n s u s p e n s e f o r w e l l o v e r h a l f t h e p o e m , m The b r e a k a t t h i s p o i n t m i g h t t e c h n i c a l l y b e r e g a r d e d a s a v o l t a , b u t t h e r e i s n o t t h e a b r u p t s h i f t i n t h o u g h t w h i c h w o u l d be e x p e c t e d i n m o s t E l i z a b e t h a n s o n n e t s . The f i r s t s e n -t e n c e m u s t be c o m p l e t e d b e f o r e one c a n p a u s e , a n d e v e n t h e n , t h e c o d a o f t h e l a s t t h r e e l i n e s I s n e c e s s a r y t o c o m p l e t e t h e s e n s e s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . The f l o w o f t h o u g h t c o n t i n u e s u n b r o k e n t h r o u g h o u t . The r h y m e - s c h e m e o f t h e poem i s one o f t h e p a t t e r n s commonly u s e d b y P e t r a r c h . A l l M i l t o n ' s s o n n e t s u s e one o r o t h e r o f t h e v a r i o u s I t a l i a n s c h e m e s , n o t a b l y a v o i d i n g t h e f i n a l c o u p l e t i n a l l c a s e s b u t o n e : c o u p l e t r h y m e s t e n d t o p r o d u c e a n e p i g r a m m a t i c q u a l i t y , a s we h a v e s e e n i n m o s t o f t h e E l i z a b e t h a n s , i s o l a t i n g t h e l i n e s c o n c e r n e d a n d d i s r u p t i n g t h e f l o w o f t h e l a n g u a g e . I n t h i s s o n n e t , M i l t o n u s e s f i v e r h y m e s , t w o i n t h e o c t a v e a n d t h r e e i n 111 The t e c h n i q u e i s s i m i l a r t o t h a t u s e d i n t h e f i r s t p a r a g r a p h o f P a r a d i s e L o s t , w h e r e M i l t o n b e g i n s i n a n o b -l i q u e c a s e ( a s Homer a n d V e r g i l b o t h d o ) , a n d w i t h h o l d s t h e m a i n v e r b , " S i n g , " f o r s e v e r a l l i n e s . 90 the sestet, strictly according to tradition. The peculi-arity of the poem Is that the resonance of the rhyme that is a natural and, one would think, inevitable feature of any sonnet, is subdued by the power of Milton's diction. It has been observed of Lyoidas that: ...Milton's chief effort is directed towards mak-ing a new adjustment between Italian verse-forms and Latinate diction; the result is that the pre-dominance of the rhymed patterns...is here replaced by the predominance of diction as an element of structure. Intricate word order, carefully sus-tained repetitions and lengthy periods tend to rel-egate rhyme to a secondary position. This is equally true of a l l Milton's later sonnets. The rhymes are a l l relatively Important words, but even where the lines are end-stopped, the sense of anticipation which is aroused by the long suspended periods is so strong, and the continuous rhythmic flow sustained by the density of the language is so cohesive, that the rhymes do not so much serve their usual function as punctuating devices. Similarly, the quatrains and tercets are completely inte-grated and the distinction between octave and sestet is obscured. The form has become completely fluid, and a l l the delicate renaissance distinctions are merged into the flow of the language. Where Spenser thinks in quatrains and couplets and Donne thinks in fragments, Milton thinks 112 Prince. The Italian Element in Milton's Terse, p. 79. 91 In terms of a much larger and more cohesive unity which, in this case, constitutes the whole poem. Thus, in a few lines of verse, Milton has been able to suggest greater dimensions, greater breadth and depth, than one would ever suspect to be within the sonnet's cap-abil i t i e s . Paradise Lost is yet to come, but there is no technical f a c i l i t y wanting, and the richness and dynamism and comprehensiveness are already anticipated. The inex-plicable genius of the man contributes as much to his art as any externals; he stands alone in the scope of his con-ceptions, and without him the baroque in English l i t e r a -ture would be of relatively minor importance. But the in-fluence of the epoch must not be underrated: Paradise Lost could not have been written f i f t y years earlier or twenty years later. Just as the balanced harmony of the High Ren-aissance gives rise to the order and symmetry of Spenser's verse, and as the dislocations of the early seventeenth century lead to Donne's mannerism, the reintegrations of Milton's day permit the certainties of vision and the vi t -ality of the wil l which are essential to baroque art and baroque affirmation* Conclusion The term "development" is possibly inclined to be misleading when i t is used to indicate the changes which are continually talcing place in literature, or in art gen-erally, with the passage of time. It is a truism in l i t -erary criticism that poetry, or creative prose, or any sort of expression that is fundamentally imaginative, does not improve: i t merely changes. But i t seems to change In a consecutive, systematic way, which is somehow related to the changes which take place contemporaneously throughout the rest of art, and indeed throughout the rest of history. It has been observed, particularly by the Spenglerian c r i -tics, that the forms and themes of literature seem to move in cireles, seem constantly to repeat the patterns of an-tiquity in a way that appears to be almost predictable, like Spenglerian history. It might be more accurate to describe this process in terms of a spiral: there has been a persistent periodic alternation between phases of roman-ticism and phases of conservatism, between phases of dis-order and relative order; but the literature of any one epoch is never quite the same as any that has preceded: It has taken from the past and w i l l always be ready to give to the future. Yet even this sort of "development" has 93 not always "been generally recognized, at least among l i t -erary c r i t i c s , and especially among cr i t i c s of Renaissance literature. In the nineteenth century, where the idea of the Renaissance as a historical period f i r s t emerged, and where systematic, integrated criticism of the arts of the age f i r s t began, ^ 3 the Renaissance was seen as a unique, unified, self-contained epoch, characterized chiefly by a sharp division from the intellectual darkness of the medi-aeval past, and standing almost apart from history, as an eternal ideal. The idea of continuity with the immediate past, in literature, or in any of the arts, and to a cer-tain extent even in the social history, was obscured by an overwhelming emphasis upon the separation from the "Dark Ages," and any aesthetic differences within the period i t -self were largely ignored: "The nineteenth century critics fixed their attention almost entirely upon the heights of renaissance art which they called the grand style." H 4 Arnold, who was one of the most acute observers of his own age, was not concerned to make distinctions between Shake-spearean "touchstones" and Miltonic; he was only interested in pointing out their common quality of "high seriousness." 113 The germinal nineteenth century criticism of Renais-sance art, chiefly concerned with the visual arts from Giotto to Michaelangelo, was by the Swiss historian Jacob Burkhardt; see The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, translated by S. C. G. MIddlemore, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1890. 114 Sypher, Four Stages of Renaissance Style. p. 3. 94 And u n t i l Grierson published h i s h i g h l y i n f l u e n t i a l e d i t i o n of Donne's poetry, i n 1912, Donne and the so - c a l l e d "meta-p h y s i c a l " poets were neglected and almost forgotten behind the l i t e r a r y giants of the Renaissance. In recent years, however, l i t e r a r y t a s t e s have found a p a r t i c u l a r a f f i n i t y f o r the p e c u l i a r syntax of Donne and h i s f o l l o w e r s , which somehow seems to echo the d i s l o c a t i o n s and i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of our own age; coupled w i t h t h i s , l i t -erary c r i t i c i s m has taken a new tack toward the more scru-pulous, a n a l y t i c methods of the l e g i t i m a t e sciences; and l i t e r a r y historiography has found the means to draw p a r a l -l e l s between a r t and sociology. This combination of i n t e r -ests has revealed, i n a d d i t i o n t o the more obvious common id i o s y n c r a s i e s of c e r t a i n of the metaphysical poets, basic differences between the l i t e r a t u r e of the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries which have apparently gone unno-t i c e d i n the past. As a r e s u l t , the whole output of Renais sance l i t e r a t u r e has been r e c l a s s i f i e d : what was once seen as an integrated whole has been broken up into a ser i e s of re l a t e d but d i s t i n c t phases, the most outstanding of which are e x h i b i t e d i n the s t y l e s of "renaissance," "mannerist," and "baroque" l i t e r a t u r e . Insofar as these three s t y l e s appear In the sonnets of the p e r i o d , the almost i d e a l representative of the re n a i s -sance mode of w r i t i n g appears to be Spenser, whose ordered 95 comprehension of the timeless universe of the High Ren-aissance typifies the contemporary ideal. The elaborate order of Spenser's beautiful poetic world did not rise out of chaos, of course, as we have seen; i t s germ can be found in the rather bland techniques of Surrey, and even in the later sonnets of Wyatt, who seems to have been generally more involved with the dissolution of the Gothic style (in the same way that Donne was caught up in the dissolution of the High Renaissance) rather than with the laying of new foundations or the systematic formulation of new poetic principles. During the course of the half-century between Surrey and Spenser the High Renaissance conceptions of an ordered world gradually consolidated themselves, and culmi-nated in the "grand style" of The Faerie Queene. which is reflected in miniature in the rhetorical patterns of the Amoretti. But by this time, High Renaissance order had a l -ready been subject to attack, in the poetry of Sidney, and its basic instability, i t s inability to accommodate the in-evitable consequences of the intellectual discoveries of the sixteenth century, was soon to be exposed in the later sonnets (and of course in the later plays) of Shakespeare. The mannerist phase, which is well under way in Shakespeare, is continued throughout the poetry of Donne where i t is carried to perhaps even further extremes: a l l the old con-ventions are there but they no longer mean anything, and 96 their chief purpose is to point toward the hollow charade which they represent, and to the insecurity which their de-cay has inspired. At this point, certain poets do not seem to f i t too easily into the pattern of development. Jonson, in partic-ular, whom one would expect to he caught in the mainstream of mannerist art, appears to be largely unaffected by the march of events, at least as far as most of his poetry i s concerned. Perhaps he can best be described as a late ren-aissance artist: he Is distinctly conservative and stands more or less aloof from the dislocations of his contempor-aries with a classical style which sustains something of the timeless brightness of renaissance poetry well into the seventeenth century; and he condemns the irregularities of mannerism In no uncertain terms: "Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging.... Shakespeare wanted art." 1 1 5 And yet, more perplexingly, "he cursed Petrarch for redact-ing verses to sonnets, whieh he said were like the tyrant's bed, where some who were too short were racked, and others too long, cut short." 1 1 6 By the middle of the seventeenth century this feeling must have been widespread: the penchant 115 William Drummond, "Informations by Ben Jonson to W. D. when he came to Scotland upon foot, 1619," Poetry of the Eng-lish Renaissance, ed. J. W. Hebel and H. H. Hudson, Few York: Appleton-Century-Orofts, Inc., 19*29, p. 898. 116 Ibid., p. 899. 97 for sonneteering had been dying a slow death ever since the turn of the century, and by the time Cromwell had come to power, no poet of any importance other than Milton was s t i l l writing sonnets. The later Miltonic sonnet i s , as we have seen, a new sort of poem. The Elizabethans had almost k i l l e d the sonnet with kindness, wearing the High Renaissance conventions out; Shakespeare had revived i t momentarily as a secular form; Donne had transformed i t into a religious l y r i c ; and Milton had given i t a new identity. He had admittedly taken most of what he needed from the past, especially for the formal aspects of his sonnets; but he gave the old static conven-tions a new l i f e : he made the heroic line flow about a new principle of unity, and gave the sonnet-form power which i t had never had. Eventually, however, Hilton abandoned the form, also. After the Restoration he wrote no more sonnets* The tradition had consumed it s e l f , and i t was to remain dor-mant for more than a hundred years, until i t rose again out of its own ashes to begin another cycle in the hands of the great Romantics, Wordsworth and Keats. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bainton, Roland H. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Gen-tury. Boston: The Beacon Press7~l95'2". 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