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Sixteenth-century English poetry

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  1. Introduction
  2. Lyrical poetry
  3. Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)
  4. Life
  5. Work
  6. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547)
  7. Life, work
  8. Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
  9. Life, work
  10. Conclusion

During the Renaissance, especially due to the tremendous influence of Italian lyrical poetry (Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso), widely known either through translation or adaptations, significant achievements marked the revival and rapid development of English poetry. Thematically, sixteenth-century English (lyrical and epic) poems revealed a growing interest in court culture, in general, and in the relationship between European cultural values and artistic models and the products of the emergent national cultures, in particular. The wide ?umbrella' of court culture-related themes included: ? the relationships between humanism, chivalric values and court culture, with particular stress on courtly and platonic love; ? the way in which the arts were used by rulers to project images and political messages about themselves, their courts, and the destiny of their countries and kingdoms; ? the role of women in court culture, both women as ornaments of the court and women as rulers. (Griffiths, 1998) In addition, drawing on the vernacular models of Italian Renaissance poetry (especially on Petrarch), imitating or criticizing them, the most important of the English Renaissance poets ? Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare ? imposed on themselves ?an explicit mission to regenerate English as a literary language, to blazon English poetry forth as worthy of comparison with the best of Italy and the best of Greece and Rome? (Griffiths, 1998), and shaped up their works according to their Protestant convictions and to their opinions regarding the position and the function of the poet at court.

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