1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Edward Dyer

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 8.



Born in the reign of Henry VIII. (circa 1540-1607), Dyer lived till some years after King James's accession to the English throne. He was a friend of Sir Philip Sidney, who, in his verses, celebrates their intimacy. Dyer was educated at Oxford, and was employed in several foreign embassies by Elizabeth. He studied chemistry, and was thought to be a Rosicrucian. Puttenham, in his Art of English Poesie (1589) commends "Master Edward Dyer for elegy most sweet, solemn, and of high conceit." The popular poem, My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is, with additions, is credited in some collections to William Byrd (1543-1623), an eminent composer of sacred music, and who published in 1588 a volume of Psalms, Sonnets, etc. Both Byrd and Joshua Sylvester seem to have laid claim to the best parts of Dyer's poem. A collection of Dyer's writings was printed as late as 1872.