1845 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Fraunce

Edward Farr, in Select Poetry chiefly devotional of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1845) xxii-xxiii.



FRAUNCE was a poet of some note in the age of Queen Elizabeth; but nothing is known of him beyond the simple fact, that he published in 1591 a volume entitled "The Countesse of Pembroke's Yvychurch. Conteining the affectionate life and unfortunate death of Phillis and Amyntas: that in a pastorall; this in a funerall; both in English hexameters;" and that to this was added a second part, entitled "The Countesse of Pembroke's Emanuel. Conteining the Nativity, Passion, Buriall, and Resurrection of Christ: together with certeine Psalmes of David: all in English hexameters." The measure in which Fraunce wrote these productions was adopted by his contemporaries, Sir Philip Sidney and Richard Stanyhurst, but it is altogether foreign to our inflexible English language. Thomas Nash says of it: "The hexameter verse I grant to be a gentleman of an ancient house — so is many an English beggar; — yet this clime of ours he cannot thrive in: our speech is too craggy for him to set his plough in; he goes twitching and hopping like a man running upon quagmires, up the hill in one syllable and down the dale in another, retaining no pan of that strictly smooth gait which he vaunts himself with among the Greeks and Latins." The specimen derived from this author's pages will illustrate the correctness of these sentiments.