Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney:- Sir Philip Sidney the Elezabethan courtier statesman soldier poet and patron of scholars and poets was considered the ideal gentleman of his day.
In 1578 he composed a pastoral playlet "The Lady of May"  for the Queen. By 1580 he had completed a version of his heroic prose romance the "Arcadia". It is typical of his gentlemanly air of assumed nonchalance that he should call it a trifle and that triflingly handled. It is in fact an intricately plotted narrative of 180,000 words.
Sir Philip Sidney


He composed a sonnet sequence "Astrophel and Stella" that recounts a courtier's passion for Penelope Devereux in delicately fictionalized terms- the first stirrings of love his first struggles against it and his final abandonment of his suit to give himself instead of the great cause of public service. These sonnets witty and impassioned brought Elezabethan poetry at once of age. About the same time he wrote "The Defence of Poesie" an urbane and eloquent plea for the social value of imaginative fiction. It remains the finest work of Elezabethan literary criticism.
He also began a radical revision of his "Arcadia" transforming it's linear dramatic plot into a many stranded interlaced narrative. He left it half finished but it remains the most important work of prose fiction in English of the 16th century. He also composed other poems and later began a paraphrase of the "Psalms". He wrote for his own amusement and for that of his close friends. True to the gentlemanly code of avoiding commercialism he did not allow his writings to be published in his life time.
"The Defence of Poesie" which was widely circulated in manuscript during the author's life remains an important document of the English Renaissance and provides an interesting insight into the critical views of the time. When Gosson dedicated his work "The Schoole of Abuse" to Sidney without permission Sidney was moved to prepare his rebuttal. Gosson attacked plays poems and all other forms of fiction as being vain and sinful. Sidney sought to refute these charges in his reply which consists of three parts. The first justifies poetry as a source of virtue. The second parts reviews the forms of poetry and the third part offer an optimistic prediction of the future of English writing.

Although he was loved and admired in his own life time as an outstanding individual a defender of the protestant cause and an English patriot Sidney's enduring legacy consists of his place among the first rank of poets who created the English Renaissance. 

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