Epitaphe On Sir Philip Sidney

AN" James VI, king of Scotland (1587) Sir

Philip Sidney was killed in battle in 1586, inspiring the composition of King James Vl's sonnet, which was both politically inspired and personally motivated. The poem features a distinctively Scottish interlaced rhyme scheme (abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee). Politically, it demonstrates James's commitment to melding English and Scottish interests, although the question of who would succeed the English queen Elizabeth I was still in the future. Personally, it indicates James's respect for a great poet.

The first quatrain conventionally asks a trio of gods to "bewail" (l. 8) Sidney's death: Mars, god of war; Minerva, goddess of wisdom and the arts; and Apollo, Sidney's divine patron and god of poetry. The second quatrain connects Apollo to Parnassus (a mountain near Delphi, Greece) and "the sisters that theron doe dwell" (l. 5). These are the nine Muses, conventionally associated with poetic inspiration, now called on to grieve the loss of one of their most inspired subjects. The third quatrain and closing couplet suggest Sidney's widespread fame will live on in his own works as well as James' commemoration. See also James VI/I.

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