Cynthia With Certain Sonnts Sonnet

Without a break, the 1595 collection continues with the 20 sonnets. Barnfield developed a new rhyme scheme for his sonnets (abba, cddc, effe, gg) but generally follows the English sonnet structure. Classical allusions abound in the poems, which are set in the typical conventions of the love sonnet: the alienated and sometimes despondent seeker, Daphnis; the scornful, or at least indifferent, Ganymede; a blazon to Ganymede's beauty; and dialogues and monologues to resolve the unrequited love. The poems range from the philosophical to the sensual, at times quite graphic with sexual innuendo, and reverberate with the depth of emotional expression of desire.

Following the sonnets are "An Ode" and Cassandra. In "An Ode," the central feature of which is an overheard complaint of Daphnis concerning the scornful Ganymede, the poet/speaker, an observer, notes that in Daphnis's heart the word Eliza is written (l. 92). "An ode" thus combines the world imaged in the sonnets with the world of Cynthia. Cassandra also has a stanza in praise of Queen Elizabeth I (ll. 217-222); here the poet asks for pardon for not being able to praise "Eliza" correctly, almost as an aside. The poem itself follows the prophetess Cassandra's fate during the Trojan War. Both blessed and cursed by the gift of prophesy that no one believes, the powerless Cassandra eventually commits suicide. It is an expression of amorous, heterosexual desire that stands in contrast to the other poems in this 1595 collection.

Cynthia, with Certain Sonnets (1595) is indeed a varied collection, featuring a range of poetic genres and subjects. The themes of passionate desire, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and nationalism enshrined in Queen Elizabeth make this collection unique in English poetry.

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