Classics

Anonymous - Englands Helicon

£12.95

Anonymous - Englands Helicon

Paperback, 228pp, 9x6ins

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Following the publication in 1557 of Tottel's Miscellany, a number of other miscellanies of contemporary poetry appeared. These were of varying quality and it is probably fair to say that the only significant such volumes in the 16th century — from the point of view of verse quality — were Tottel's, The Phoenix Nest (1593) and the present volume, which appeared in 1600. Englands Helicon differs from the two earlier books in representing a particular style of writing — the now-fashionable Pastoral, based on classical models and, above all, Virgil — but heavily influenced by Italian, French and Spanish models from the latter half of the 16th century. Indeed, the largest selection of any one author in this book is of Batholomew Yong, represented by his translations from Diana — a Spanish pastoral romance in verse and prose which was popular throughout Europe. It was not that these poets were actually much enamoured of nature, or of the countryside; the pastoral style had no truck with realism, and the worlds and persons celebrated in their poems were romantically idealised, situated in an Arcadia populated by Greek goddesses and frolicking shepherds and maids. As in later periods, however, a poet could also use such widely-accepted models as a structure on which to hang a disguised portrait of contemporary lives or to say things which might be regarded as offensive in a more direct form. Helicon stayed in print for many years, which attests both to the quality of the verse included, as well as the curious lingering popularity of the Pastoral.

 

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