Not just English poetry but poetry in English as we know it today was largely invented in England between the beginning of the sixteenth century and 1630. For many years much of the poetry from the era was seen as half-baked, undeveloped, little more than a run-up to Shakespeare. From the point of view of the twentieth century and today, however, it seems a time of extraordinary poetic ferment and experimentation. Never since have the possibilities of poetic form and, especially, poetic voice, from the sublime to the exquisite to the rawly slangy, been so various and inviting. The poetry of the English Renaissance speaks directly across the centuries to the renaissance of poetic exploration in our own time.
John Williams’s celebrated anthology captures this ferment and variety as no other anthology does. It includes some of the most famous poems by some of the most famous poets of the English language, Sir Thomas Wyatt, John Donne, and of course Shakespeare, but also—and this is what makes it such a rich resource—the strikingly original work of the little-known masters George Gascoigne and Fulke Greville.
Publication History: 1st pub 1963; U of Arkansas Press pub 7/14