Henry Lawes Criticism - Essay

Willa McClung Evans (essay date March 1936)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Evans, Willa McClung. “Lawes' Version of Shakespeare's Sonnet CXVI.” PMLA 51, no. 1 (March 1936): 120-22.

[In the following essay, Evans points out that Lawes set a version of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 to music, which she says establishes that the composer was the only contemporary who collaborated with both Milton and Shakespeare.]

That Henry Lawes set to music a version of Shakespeare's Sonnet CXVI “Let me not to the marriage of true mindes / Admit impediments,” has apparently never been mentioned in print. Lawes' version, which retains seven lines intact, alters seven, and adds two couplets to form three six-line stanzas, is found in John Gamble's...

(The entire section is 881 words.)

Willa McClung Evans (essay date September 1938)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Evans, Willa McClung. “Henry Lawes and Charles Cotton.” PMLA 53, no. 3 (September 1938): 724-29.

[In the following excerpt, Evans shows that Lawes set to music a version of Charles Cotton's poem “The Picture.”]

Hearty, cheerful Mr. Cotton and pious Izaak Walton shared enthusiasms other than their common devotion to angling.1 Both of these seventeenth-century fishermen had some proficiency in singing, and wrote verse to be set to music. Walton, it will be recalled, “made a conversion of an old ketch, and added more to it,”2 for which Henry Lawes composed the melody of The Angler's Song.3 Charles Cotton in...

(The entire section is 1828 words.)

Morris Freedman (essay date summer 1963)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Freedman, Morris. “Milton's ‘On Shakespeare’ and Henry Lawes.” Shakespeare Quarterly 14, no. 3 (summer 1963): 279-81.

[In the following essay, Freedman provides evidence to show that Lawes may have been responsible for Miton's poem “On Shakespeare” appearing as a preface to the playwright's works in the Second Folio.]

Milton's first published work, “On Shakespeare”, appeared as one of the prefatory poems to the Second Folio, in 1632. At the time, Milton, twenty-four, was unknown as a poet; only his family, friends, classmates, and perhaps some of his teachers knew of his interest in writing. How did it happen that his lines came to preface the...

(The entire section is 1070 words.)

John T. Shawcross (essay date December 1964)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Shawcross, John T. “Henry Lawes's Settings of Songs for Milton's ‘Comus.’” Journal of the Rutgers University Library 28 (December 1964): 22-8.

[In the following essay, Shawcross discusses the music Lawes composed for Milton's masque Comus, arguing that the text may have been altered after the composition of the music.]

In a former article on the manuscripts of John Milton's mask called “Comus”1 I drew attention to the fact that the texts of the songs for which music written by Henry Lawes exists are derived from revisions of the basic transcription in Milton's manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.2 The...

(The entire section is 2983 words.)

Audrey Davidson (essay date May 1968)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Davidson, Audrey. “Milton on the Music of Henry Lawes.” Milton Newsletter 2, no. 2 (May 1968): 19-23.

[In the following excerpt, Davidson speculates on the relationship between Milton and Lawes through a reading of Milton's sonnet of praise to the composer.]

Milton's encomiastic sonnet to Henry Lawes opens with the highest praise for his eminent contemporary:

Harry, whose tuneful and well measur'd Song
First taught our English Music how to span
Words with just note and accent, not to scan
With Midas' Ears, committing short and long …(1)

These lines, according to Donald Tovey, reveal a Milton who has forgotten the precise...

(The entire section is 2794 words.)

Nan Cooke Carpenter (essay date spring 1972)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Carpenter, Nan Cooke. “Milton and Music: Henry Lawes, Dante, and Casella.” English Literary Renaissance 2 (spring 1972): 237-42.

[In the following essay, Carpenter offers an interpretation of Milton's sonnet in praise of Lawes, arguing that the poem likens Lawes to Casella and the poet himself to Dante.]

Several of Milton's sonnets, Italian and English, rely for effect upon musical allusions and overtones; only one (XIII) is completely musical—“To Mr. H. Lawes, on his Aires.” Although, at first reading, the sonnet seems to be typical laudatory verse, couched in the classical imagery beloved of Milton, closer attention to the poem reveals...

(The entire section is 2959 words.)

Franklin R. Baruch (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Baruch, Franklin R. “Milton's Comus: Skill, Virtue, and Henry Lawes.” Milton Studies 5 (1973): 289-308.

[In the following essay, Baruch argues that in his masque Comus Milton characterizes Lawes, who plays the role of the Attendant Spirit, as the teacher and dramatic guide for the Egerton children.]

Much of the attention given to Milton's Comus has sprung from a concern with the pairings seen as operative in the poem. Virginity and profligacy, natural and religious virtue, celibacy and marriage, order and disorder—the list is an abundant one, with results often richly suggestive.1 It is perhaps inevitable that this focus in...

(The entire section is 8642 words.)

Elizabeth A. Frost (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Frost, Elizabeth A. “The Didactic Comus: Henry Lawes and the Trial of Virtue.” Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 22 (1991): 87-103.

[In the following essay, Frost elucidates the moral lessons provided in Milton's Comus, maintaining that in the didactic masque Lawes takes on the role of instructor.]

The Jacobean and Caroline court masque traditionally incorporated some moral message into the grandeur of its spectacle, but only as part of its elaborately conceived compliment. Both Jonson's Vision of Delight and Carew's Coelum Britannicum describe the restoration of order over disorder, virtue over...

(The entire section is 6885 words.)

Lydia Hamessley (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hamessley, Lydia. “Henry Lawes's Setting of Katherine Philips's Friendship Poetry in His Second Book of Ayres and Dialogues, 1655: A Musical Misreading?” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood and Gary C. Thomas, pp. 115-38. New York: Routledge, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, an expanded version of a lecture delivered in 1991, Hamessley considers whether, in setting Katherine Philip's poetry to music, Lawes projected, masked, or suppressed the lesbian voice.]

But as the morning sun to drooping flowers,
As weary travellers a shade do find,
As to the parched violet evening showers;
Such is from...

(The entire section is 7931 words.)