Yet sixteenth-century literature (as, indeed, sixteenth-century life) grew out of the medieval milieu. A poet of that century, Edmund Spenser, held Chaucer in veneration and modelled his Shepheardes Calender on Chaucer’s style.Another, Sir Thomas Wyatt, in his didactic verse-letter to ‘Mine Owne John Poins’, cites Chaucer as an authority, while some Chaucerian verse-forms survive in Shakespeare’s poetry. And even if we interpret the sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury Renaissance as being a reaction against medievalism, it cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of its genesis in the Middle Ages. Furthermore, certain traditions of poetic subject matter and style that have remained powerful presences in English poetry, through the centuries, have their origins in medieval poetry.
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