1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 16.



Sidney (1554-1586) was born at Penshurst, in Kent. He takes his rank in English literary history rather as a prose writer than as a poet. The high repute in which his verses were held among his contemporaries was due chiefly to what was esteemed their scholarly style; but in these days we should call it artificial. Some of his sonnets, however, are graceful in expression and noble in thought. "The best of them," says Charles Lamb, "are among the very best of their sort. The verse runs off swiftly and gallantly, and might have been tuned to the trumpet." In 1586 Sidney took a command in the War in the Netherlands. His death occurred in the autumn of the same year, from wounds received at the assault of Zutphen. He was then only thirty-two years of age.