1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Cynthia: To the curteous Gentlemen Readers.

Cynthia. With certaine Sonnets, and the Legend of Cassandra.

Richard Barnfield


Richard Barnfield announces the "first imitation of the verse of that excellent Poet, Maister Spencer, in his Fayrie Queene." The other books Barnfield mentions have not been identified.

Henry John Todd: "Barnefield in his address to the courteous gentlemen readers, hopes that his rude conceit of Cynthia will be borne with, 'if for no other cause, yet for that it is the first imitation of the verse of that excellent Poet, Maister Spencer, in his Fayre Queene'" Works of Spenser (1805) 1:clxxxi-ii.

Edward Payson Morton: "Spenser's stanza was certainly not much used by his contemporaries. The only instance I have found is a poem of nineteen stanzas, published in January, 1595, and called Cynthia. Its author, Richard Barnfield, says in his preface that it is 'the first imitation of the verse of that excellent Poet, Maister Spencer, in his Fayrie Queene'" "The Spenserian Stanza before 1700" (1907) 5-6.

Katherine Duncan-Jones: Richard Barnfield "offers a justification of the earlier poem as 'nothing else, but an imitation of Virgill, in the second Eglogue of Alexis.' Here he also declared his indebtedness to Spenser, craving indulgence for Cynthia 'if for no other cause, yet, for that it is the first imitation of that excellent Poet, Maister Spencer, in his Fayrie Queene'" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 79.




Gentlemen; the last Terme there came forth a little toy of mine, intituled, The affectionate Shepheard: In the which, his Country Content found such friendly favor, that it hath incouraged me to publish my second fruites. The affectionate Shepheard being the first: howsoever undeservedly (I protest) I have beene thought (of some) to have beene the authour of two Books heretofore. I neede not to name them, beacuse they are two well-knowne already: nor will I deny them, because they are dislik't; but because they are not mine. This protestation (I hope) will satisfy th' indifferent: as for them that are maliciously envious, as I cannot, so I care not to please. Some there were, that did interpret The affectionate Shepheard, othewise then (in truth) I meant, touching a subject thereof, to wit, the love of a Shepheard to a boy; a fault, the which I will not excuse, because I never made. Onely this, I will unshaddow my conceit: being nothing else, but an imitation of Virgill, in the second Eglogue of Alexis. In one or two places (in this Booke) I use the name of Eliza pastorally: wherein, lest any one should misconter my meaning (as I hope none will) I have here briefly discovered my harmeles conceipt as concerning that name: whereof once (in a simple Shepheards device) I wrot this Epigramme—

One name there is, which name above all other
I most esteeme, as time and place shall prove:
The one is Vesta, th' other Cupids Mother,
The first my Goddesse is, the last my love;
Subject to Both I am: to that by berth;
To this for beautie; fairest on the earth.

Thus, hoping you will beare with my rude conceit of Cynthia, (if for no other cause, yet, for that it is the first imitation of the verse of that excellent Poet, Maister Spencer, in his Fayrie Queene) I will leave you to the reading of that, which I so much desire may breed your Delight.

Richard Barnefeild.


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