Teaching Petrarchan and Anti-Petrarchan Discourses in Early Modern English Lyrics

Purificación Ribes


The aim of the present article is to help students realize that Petrarchism has been an influential source of inspiration for Early Modern English lyrics. Its topics and conventions have lent themselves to a wide variety of appropriations which the present selection of texts for analysis tries to illustrate. A few telling examples from Spenser, Sidney, Donne and Marvell have been chosen where the topic of the lady cast as a valuable treasure is variously addressed. Whereas Spenser’s Sonnet 15 of his Amoretti conveys the lover’s confident hope of its possession in a near marriage, Sidney’s Sonnet 37 of Astrophil and Stella portrays his frustration at the idea of being robbed of his cherished jewel by a less worthy rival. Donne’s The Sun Rising extends the image of the valuable treasure to include the lyric I, while removing the traditional Petrarchan opposition between charitas and eros, whereas Marvell’s To his Coy Mistress inscribes his parody of the Petrarchan topic of the lady as unattainable jewel within the carpe diem tradition.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v1n1p62


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