How did the Renaissance and humanism influence Elizabethan poetry in England?

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The Renaissance and humanism had a profound effect on Elizabethan poetry. The word Renaissance means rebirth and is a term used to describe a resurgence of interest (starting in the thirteenth century) in the art and literature of the classical world of Greece and Rome. Humanism in the Renaissance sought to celebrate humankind and its achievements—perceiving humans as the crowning glory of God's creation—and it sought to harmonize the thought of such classical philosophers as Plato and Aristotle with Christianity.

One example of an Elizabethan poet influenced by Renaissance humanism would be Sir Thomas Wyatt, who brought the Petrarchan sonnet (Petrarch was a great Italian humanist) to England. Wyatt both translated Petrarch's poetry and wrote his own Petrarchan sonnets. Shakespeare, of course, is also a towering example of a humanist poet influenced by Renaissance humanism. The poetry within his plays is permeated with classical allusions and validates the value of humankind, and his sonnets also lean into Renaissance humanism in their emphasis on gaining immortality through art rather than through a Christian heaven or through resurrection on the day of judgement.

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