What are the general characteristics of Elizabethan poetry?

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The Elizabethan age ushered in a period of literary freedom and provided grounds for experimentation for the poets. The age was a break away from the tumultuous socioeconomic events of the previous period. The general society was more at peace and enjoying political stability during the Elizabethan age. Poetry from this time feature romanticism ideals and melodrama. The works would combine tragedy and comedy as seen in some of Edmund Spenser’s poetry. Poetry during this age also featured imagination and intense emotions. This made the base nature of such works to emanate from the poets' own feelings which were then developed into art. The literary works also adhered to some form of rhyming meter and structure as experienced in the sonnet which is also a feature of Elizabethan poetry introduced by Thomas Wyatt.

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Elizabethan poetry, as the name suggests, comprises the poetry written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Elizabethan age, which spanned from 1558 to 1603, was a golden period in the history of English Literature. Fine Arts and Literature flourished like anything during this time. Poetry was the chief form of literature along with Drama. William Shakespeare, the most admired poet and playwright in English literature tradition, wrote during this time. In fact, the Elizabethan age is also known as the “Age of Shakespeare”. Some other important Elizabethan poets include Edmund Spencer, Philip Sydney, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, etc.

The sonnet form, which was championed by Shakespeare, was one of the most dominant forms of poetry during this time. Lyric and narrative poetry were also very common. Poetry and verse plays were majorly written in blank verse. The spirit of Renaissance had conquered England and, inevitably, there was a profound interest to borrow from the classical texts. Themes of Nationalism, Humanism, and patriotism dominated both poetry and drama. The poetry was marked by Romantic luxuriance, creativity, Imagination and experimentation. Use of metaphors was very common.

Shakespeare wrote over hundred sonnets. He developed a new form of sonnet known as the Shakespearean sonnet (or the English sonnet) that was different from the Petrarchan sonnet. Some of the best works of poetry by Spencer are The Fairie Queen, Epithalamion, Prothalamion, Amoretti, The Shepherd’s Calendar, etc. Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella are also very famous.

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The general characteristics of the Elizabethan poetry, given this genre typically focuses on creativity, is the use of metaphors, repetition, puns, and paradoxes.  The metaphor is typically used to compare women to objects of rare and exotic beauty.  The repetition exists so as to develop and deepen the theme of the poetry. The use of puns existed so as to develop a play on words given many words, in the English language, typically have multiple meanings. Lastly, the use of paradoxes instills the importance of opposites.

Thematically, Elizabethan poetry focused upon romance and courtly love.

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What are some features of Elizabethan poetry?

In the Elizabethan period (from the start of Elizabeth I's reign in 1558 until her death in 1603) we find a wide diversity of English poets, each...

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with his own individualistic personality and literary style. It would be best, in answering your question, for us to single out several of these writers, note the chief characteristics of their work, and draw conclusions as to common threads or themes among them that exist despite each one's singularity.

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599). Spenser is known principally for his great epic The Fairie Queene, for his love sonnets, and for pastoral poems such as The Shephearde's Calender and his elegyAstrophel on his fellow poet Philip Sidney. In all of these works Spenser used beautifully stylized and musical language to evoke a quasi-mythic past and to recreate the courtly atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Much of the wording he uses was already archaic in his own time, and this serves to emphasize the gentle, almost nostalgic quality of his verse in depicting an idealized England, while using the past allegorically to celebrate his own sovereign Queen Elizabeth.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). As probably the greatest of all English poets and the greatest world dramatist of modern (i.e., since the year 1500) times, Shakespeare does not need much description from us. His best-known verse apart from the plays is, of course, the sonnets, which are basically love poetry but written in a more down-to-earth and "realistic" tone than the sonnets of Spenser. The sonnet was originally an Italian verse form, so Spenser, Shakespeare, and other English poets were basing their work on Italian models to a large degree, just as Shakespeare drew on Italian sources for many of his plays. Inspiration from Italy was a major feature of the Elizabethan age.

Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593). Like Shakespeare, Marlowe was mainly a dramatist, although his life was cut short before he could fulfill the enormous promise of his talent. His most famous work apart from the plays is probably the pastoral poem, "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love." Marlowe's language in some heightened spots could be considered as beautiful as Shakespeare's in his passages celebrating love, such as the lines beginning "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?" from Doctor Faustus.

Philip Sidney (1554-1586). A soldier and prominent courtier as well as a poet, Sidney died young, in this case on the battlefield fighting on the side of the Protestants in the Netherlands against the Spanish. Sidney wrote love sonnets and the long pastoral poem Astrophel and Stella (hence Spenser's poem Astrophel, which is about Sidney himself after his death). He also wrote a long critical essay about the aesthetics of literature, A Defence of Poetry.

Among all of the above the common threads can be seen as: 1) the emphasis on love, 2) the use of Italian models such as the sonnet and sources such as the Italian romance, 3) the popularity of pastoral verse, dealing with a world of shepherds and shepherdesses, and 4) depictions of a courtly, legendary past (as in Spenser), often in an either allegorical or nationalistically idealized format where Queen Elizabeth, the rise of the Tudor family (as in Shakespeare's Richard III) or the greatness of the English in general are celebrated. In this last point we can also sense a growing awareness of the importance of England as a world power and the English as a people who are beginning to create significant literature that can equal the poetry of the Romance-language nations and of antiquity.

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What are some features of Elizabethan poetry?

Elizabethan poetry included lyric, dramatic, and epic poems. The best known dramatic poet was William Shakespeare, but there were many other outstanding Elizabethan dramatists including Kyd and Marlowe. A genre of verse drama that flourished in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods was the court masque that usually included many songs.

Elizabethan lyric poetry was strongly influenced by that of Italian poetry. One especially influential poet was Petrarch whose sonnets inspired many Elizabethan imitations, and also led to the development of the English sonnet. Sydney and Shakespeare were among the Elizabethan poets who wrote sonnets.

Romantic and pastoral themes, especially treating of courtly love, were common in the period, as was religious poetry, Many lyric poems were set to music.

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Please provide the characteristics of Elizabethan poetry.

Elizabethan poetry flowered through the introduction of blank verse by the Earl of Surrey, experimental poetry like Spenser's The Shephearde’s Calendar, lyric poetry like that of Sir Philip Sidney, pastorals and allegorical poems such as The Faerie Queene by Spenser, and dramas in poem, both tragedies and comedies like those of Shakespeare. An often thought of flowering of poetry in Elizabethan England is the sonnet introduced from Italy by Thomas Wyatt.

In England, the sonnet form was known not just as the Elizabethan sonnet, but also as the Shakespearean sonnet in that William Shakespeare popularized sonnets during the Elizabethan period. However, this poetic form did not originate in England. The sonnet was introduced during the Italian Renaissance (approximately 1300-1600). The man credited for making it so famous is Francesco Petrarch; and so the first sonnet form was called Petrarchan. It would ultimately be introduced into Elizabethan literary circles during the Elizabethan Renaissance (approximately 1485-1603) by Sir Thomas Wyatt (in the late sixteenth century).

[Petrarch] was the foremost writer of sonnets in Italian, and translations of his work into English by Thomas Wyatt established the sonnet form in that country, where it was employed by William Shakespeare and countless other poets.

While the Italian sonnet is stylistically different, a great deal of the construction was synthesized into the Elizabethan sonnet. For instance, Shakespeare (and other English poets) adopted Petrarch's use of fourteen lines total.

Another characteristic is that sections are used. However, unlike Petrarch's sections of eight and six lines (respectively), the first twelve lines of the Elizabethan sonnet consist of three quatrains: a quatrain is a four-line stanza. The last two lines are a couplet">rhyming couplet—in other words, the last two lines (or the "couple") rhymed with each other at the last word of each line. For example, Shakespeare's Sonnet 29 ends with these two lines:

For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings. (13-14)

Note that "brings" and "kings" rhyme.

These sections are also used to organize the theme of the poem. Referring to Sonnet 29 once more, the first quatrain (or first four lines) finds the speaker complaining about his bad luck—even heaven fails to listen to his cries. The second stanza continues with specific examples: he isn't as handsome as other men, and does not have as many friends either. However, by the third quatrain, the tone of the poem shifts dramatically. He thinks about the woman who loves him and he becomes ecstatic—his heart soars. The rhyming couplet serves to bring a conclusion to the poem. In this case, having such a love, the speaker notes that he would not change places even with a king.

The next characteristic is the rhyming pattern. The Elizabethan sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. This means that each line consists of five measures, or feet, of an unstressed followed by a stressed word or syllable, as can be heard when the poem is read aloud. In addition, the poem has the specific rhyme scheme or pattern of rhyme. The rhyme in the Elizabethan sonnet is:

abab cdcd efef gg

This shows that the first and third lines rhyme with each other. The second and fourth lines rhyme, and so forth. The last two lines, as noted before, rhyme with each other.

It should be noted that sonnets are often (but not always) poems about love, the passage of time, beauty, and/or nature.

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