Miracle of the world! I never will deny That former poets praise the beauty of their days; But all those beauties were but figures of thy praise, And all those poets did of thee but prophesy. Thy coming to the world hath taught us to descry What Petrarch’s Laura meant, for truth the lip bewrays. Lo! why th’Italians, yet which never saw thy rays, To find out Petrarch’s sense such forged glosses try. (Henry Constable, Diana, 1592) The sonnet is both a poetic form and an ideology. It is as much an ideology as that of the contemporary Court whose culture, with major upheaval in the ruling elite and the rise of humanism, it reflects. This chapter and the next will look at both aspects, the literary form and the ideology behind it.
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- Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Sonnet
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