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The silver poets were a group of English writers—including Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, and John Davies—who lived during the sixteenth century and composed short poems, ballads, carols, elegies, epitaphs, lyrics, and sonnets. Their writings explored the theme of love during the beginning of the English Renaissance through the end of the Elizabethan Age.

The silver poets are known for having broken with previous traditions, exploring new and different approaches to talking about love. Wyatt, for example, discusses courtly love in a style culturally influenced by other writers throughout Europe during that period. He went on to write poems which were erotic, sensual, and very personal as well. Wyatt was a courtier, and his poetry examines the notion of change and the vicissitudes which characterized his life as he navigated the politics of Henry VIII's court.

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The term "silver poets" is used for a group of sixteenth-century English poets known for their excellence in writing short, elegant lyrical poems. The term is intended as a parallel to the term "silver age," which referred to post-Augustan Latin poets. The term suggests elegance and technical skill rather than profundity. They were mainly members of the gentry or aristocracy and prominent at court rather than professional writers and their works were initially circulated in manuscript rather than published.

The silver poets of the sixteenth century were: 

  • Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 – 1542) 
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, (1516/1517 - 1547)
  • Sir Walter Raleigh (ca.  1554 – 1618)
  • Sir Philip Sidney  (1554 – 1586)
  • Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (née Sidney; 1561 – 1621), sister of Philip Sidney; sometimes referred to as Mary Sidney
  • Michael Drayton (1563 – 1631)
  • Sir John Davies (1569 – 1626) 
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