1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet XX. ["But now my Muse toyld with continuall care."]

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

Richard Barnfield


Richard Barnfield concludes his sequence of homoerotic sonnets with an appeal to Spenser ("Colin chiefe of sheepheardes") and Drayton ("Rowland"). Compare the concluding Sonnet 50 of William Smith's Chloris (1596).

Thomas Warton: "Here, through the course of twenty sonnets, not inelegant, and which were exceedingly popular, the poet bewails his unsuccessful love for a beautiful youth, by the name of Ganymede, in a strain of the most tender passion, yet with profession of the chastest affection. Many descriptions and incidents, which have a like complexion, may be found in the futile novels of Lodge and Lilly" History of English Poetry (1774-81; 1840) 3:328-29.

Edmond Malone tells the story of how Thomas Warton acquired his copy of Barnfield's volume, bound up with Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis and half a dozen other equally rare poems: "The history of this book is curious. It was sold at the sale of Dr. Bernard's books in 1698 for one shilling and threepence. Afterwards probably passing through many hands, it came into the possession of a broker in Salisbury, where about thirty years ago, Mr. Warton found it among a parcel of old iron and other lumber, and I think purchased it for sixpence. Since his death, his brother, Dr. Joseph Warton, very kindly presented it to me; and I have honoured it with a new cover, and have preserved the name of my poor friend Mr. Thomas Warton which was written at the inside of the old cover, as a memorial of that very elegant and ingenious writer" Maloniana, 1 December 1791.

Thomas Park: "The sonnets are amatorious, and in number twenty. I extract the last of them; not from preeminence, but because it introduces Spenser and Drayton, under the names of Colin and Rowland; and because it has less of that sexual perversion for which the Complaint of Daphnis was condemned, and many even of the sonnets of Shakspeare deserve condemnation" Restituta or ... English Literature Revived 4 (1816) 495-96.



But now my Muse toyld with continuall care,
Begins to faint, and slacke her former pace,
Expecting favour from that heavenly grace,
That maie (in time) her feeble strength repaire.
Till when (sweete youth) th' essence of my soule,
(Thou that dost sit and sing at my hearts griefe.
Thou that dost send thy shepheard no reliefe)
Beholde, these lines; the sonnes of Teares and Dole.
Ah had great Colin chiefe of sheepheardes all,
Or gentle Rowland, my professed friend,
Had they thy beautie, or my pennance pend,
Greater had been thy fame, and lesse my fall:
But since that everie one cannot be wittie,
Pardon I crave of them, and of thee, pitty.

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