17th Century & 16th Century Poetry

Topics: Poetry, Sonnet, Stanza Pages: 3 (941 words) Published: March 23, 2011
How is the poetry of the 17th century different from the poetry of the 16th century?

The poetry of the 16th century and the poetry of the 17th century were mainly lyrical. However, this similarity of expressing personal thoughts and feelings did not prevent major differences between both periods whether in themes or in structure.

Poetry in Elizabethan time was based on courtly love conventions which included conceits and complements. Themes such as the unattainability of the lady, sleeplessness, constancy in love, cruelty of the beloved, renunciation of love, fine passion of the lover versus icy emotions of the beloved, praise of the beloved’s beauty and eternalizing her as being subject of the poem; these all are characteristics of courtly love. Nevertheless, those themes were contrasted by cavalier poets in the early 17th century.

Courtly love poets used to vow to be faithful for ever to their sweethearts that is why they always stayed constant in their love, ever if their affection was rejected by the lady. For this reason, they used to stay always on fire because of their burning passions which made them sleepless; whereas the beloved used to remain clam and careless.

In contrast, cavalier poets especially Suckling, in his poem “song” mocks and chides those who weep in love with women who reject their love. He advises lovers to leave ladies who do not return the same affection because it is useless i.e. it leads to nothing; it is unmanly and degrading i.e. shameful because love cannot be taught by tears or by signs. [According to cavaliers, it is shameful to beg or cry for love and these attitudes will not move the lady. If she does not have feelings to one, it is impossible to make her do so. [Suckling also finds it strange and surprising that the lover has been faithful for “three whole days together” and maybe so for three more in the poem “out upon it. And his purpose was just paying an exaggerated compliment to the lady....
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