Read e-book online An Introduction to Shakespeare's Poems PDF

By Peter Hyland

ISBN-10: 0230802400

ISBN-13: 9780230802407

ISBN-10: 0333725921

ISBN-13: 9780333725924

An creation to Shakespeare's Poems presents a full of life and trained exam of Shakespeare's non-dramatic poetry: the narrative poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece; the Sonnets; and numerous minor poems, together with a few only in the near past attributed to Shakespeare. Peter Hyland locates Shakespeare as a sceptical voice in the turbulent social context during which Elizabethan specialist poets needed to paintings, and relates his poems to the tastes, values and political pressures of his time. Hyland additionally explores how Shakespeare's poetry might be of curiosity to twenty-first century readers.

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He therefore describes her physical beauty rather mechanically in terms of emblematic perfection: her eyes like the sun, her hair like gold, her skin like snow or lilies. On the other hand, he is acutely self-aware, minutely examining his own responses to what he perceives as the cold cruelty of this ideal figure. This set of conventions was easily integrated into the literary culture of ‘courtly love’, which had been established in England in the Middle Ages and still had a powerful attraction for the Elizabethan court.

For those who had power, patronage became a matter of prestige, a means of reflecting their power. The simple ability to dispense favours was the most conspicuous aspect of this, but another effective use of patronage was to create images of substance and splendour by linking it to art. Gordon Kipling has shown that Henry VII, Elizabeth’s grandfather and the founder of the Tudor line, was the first English monarch to offer ‘widespread and systematic patronage to artists and men of letters’. 5 This was not simply a matter of show, however; Henry was well aware of the importance of literary sophistication in the education of those who would be successful governors.

Shakespeare’s most extensive treatment of this kind of poet comes in Love’s Labour’s Lost, in which four young aristocrats try to use poetry as a means of wooing four young women. Their endeavour ends in failure, and they are mocked by the women whom they seek to impress. The main reason for this is the extreme affectation of their language, in which display has taken the place of substance. Biron, the lover whose scepticism puts him closest to ‘reality’, is eventually led to renounce the linguistic ornamentation that the young men have believed to be the essence of poetry: O, never will I trust to speeches penned, Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue, Nor never come in visor to my friend, Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper’s song.

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An Introduction to Shakespeare's Poems by Peter Hyland

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