Who named Edmund Spenser as the "poet's poet"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edmund Spenser was first called the "Poet's Poet" by the English essayist Charles Lamb. Although the phrase does not appear in any of Lamb's writings, Leigh Hunt attributes it to him in his critique of Spenser in Hunt's book Imagination and Fancy (published in 1844), which is an anthology of English poetry with accompanying commentary.

In his book The Allegory of Love, C. S. Lewis explained the reasoning behind Lamb's title for Spenser by noting that he is "so called in virtue of the historical fact that most of the poets have liked him very much." However, Lewis was not particularly fond of labeling anyone as the best or greatest of poets. In his opinion, it caused "incalculable damage" to the poet because readers expected him to always produce great poetry.

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