Bede. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Edited by Bertram Colgrave and R. B. Mynors. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. "Csdmon's Hymn." In Eight Old English Poems, 3rd ed., edited by R. D. Fulk and John C. Pope, 3-4, 49-58. New York: Norton, 2001. Scragg, Donald C. "The Nature of Old English Verse." In The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature, edited by Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge, 55-70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Alexander M. Bruce
CAELICA Sir Fulke Greville, baron Brooke
(1576-1628) Caelica ("heavenly one") is frequently described as a sonnet sequence. However, although individual groupings of poems, recurrent preoccupations, and favored addressees are certainly perceptible, it might best be considered as an anthology of private responses to the brittle world of Elizabethan and Jacobean court culture, to contemporaneous love poetry, and to more theological and philosophical issues and anxieties. Caelica comprises 109 poems, only 41 of which are 14-line sonnets. Where he does employ the quatorzain form, Sir Fulke Greville adopts the English sonnet style consisting of three quatrains and a concluding couplet, though he increasingly develops the sonnet sestet into the six-line stanza form favored throughout his later verse treatises. Caelica was published posthumously in 1633.
The first 75 poems have been dated to between 1576 and 1587, and on several occasions they imitate or respond to Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, though Greville is more explicitly skeptical toward the commonplaces of amorous verse. For instance, Caeli-ca's conventional golden tresses are revealed to be a wig (Sonnet 58), and the agent of love, Cupid, is repeatedly scorned as being deceitful, inconstant, and a mere idol (Sonnet 62). Caelica's first movement features many poems addressed to beloved figures named Myra, Cynthia, and Caelica, though there is little consistent characterization or biographical allusion. Each seems to be representative more of individual instances of worldly love and physical desire.
Caelica contains two other sets of sonnets in addition to the amorous ones. Greville's political sonnets (Sonnets 76-81, ca. 1587-1603) offer personal meditations on ambition, court favoritism, and the nature of tyranny, issues he interrogates further in his contemporaneous closet dramas Mustapha and Alaham. Gre-ville's religious and philosophical meditations (Sonnets 82 and 85-109, ca. 1604-28) revisit such preoccupations as idolatry and worldly inconstancy but, more importantly, explore the implications of humanity's fallen nature, progressively realizing the soul's state of desolation and recasting absence in cosmic terms as a separation from divine grace, and demonstrating how faculty of reason makes sense of evil and sin.
often admired for its suggestion of unmediated intimacy, verbal clarity, and directness of expression, Gre-ville's poetry is held up as an exemplar of the "plain"
style of early modern English verse. Relatively few poems self-consciously address the writing process itself (see, however, Sonnets 22 and 24), and Greville's wariness of duplicitous Petrarchan love games is reflected in his own writing and increasing unwillingness to allow language and metaphor to obscure the process of self-examination enacted and exhibited in his poetry.
In addition to addressing links between Caelica and individual lyrics of Greville's contemporaries, critics have attempted to explain the shift between the more worldly interests of the earlier poetry and the serious tone of the later, often suggesting that the change occurred following Sidney's death in 1586, when Gre-ville experienced a deepening religious conviction or "conversion." others trace the switch to the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The Elizabethan court valued amorous verse as an expression of social, economic, and political ambition, whereas the Jacobean court favored philosophy. Recent critics are increasingly wary of characterizing "early" or "late" Greville, their work revealing that rigid divisions between secular and religious issues and language fail to adequately describe Greville's complex conception of the role of earthly faculties and institutions in God's divine scheme.
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