On the Sublime

by Longinus

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Which poem is considered sublime according to Longinus, and why?

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One example of the sublime in poetry is Epithalamion by Edmund Spenser. Since this is a long and immensly complex poem, the poems in his sonnet cycle will serve equally well as examples of the sublime. According to Longinus, in brief, the style of poetry must elevated, moral, nobel, having strong emotion and containing dignified figures of speech.

Selecting from his sonnets at random, the qualities of the sublime are expressed even in this lament over continually rejected love:

SO oft as homeward I from her depart,
I goe lyke one that hauing lost the field:
is prisoner led away with heauy hart,
despoyld of warlike armes and knowen shield.
So doe I now my selfe a prisoner yeeld,
to sorrow and to solitary paine:
from presence of my dearest deare exylde,
longwhile alone in languor to remaine.
There let no thought of ioy or pleasure vaine,
dare to approch, that may my solace breed:
but sudden dumps and drery sad disdayne,
of all worlds gladnesse more my torment feed.
So I her absens will my penaunce make,
that of her presens I my meed may take.

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