Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Cavalier Lyrists > The classical lyric
  Decline of the sonnet Influence of Jonson  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

I. Cavalier Lyrists.

§ 3. The classical lyric.

The classical lyric, as represented, in particular, by the odes of Anacreon and the songs of Catullus and Horace, had been regarded with due respect already in the early days of the renascence. The Anacreontic temper is seen in such a song as Greene’s “Cupid abroad was lated in the night” from Orpharion (licensed 1589) and in Lodge’s Barginet of Antimachus from England’s Helicon, while translations or imitations of Anacreon find a place in Canzonets to foure voyces, set to music and published by Giles Farnaby in 1598. Spenser introduces into his gorgeous painting of the Bower of Bliss the theme of Ausonius’s famous lyric, Collige, virgo, rosas; and, among many English renderings of Catullus’s famous song to Lesbia, Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, none comes so near to the spirit of the original as Campion’s “My sweetest Lesbia, let us live and love.” The influence of Catullus is seen, too, in most of the Elizabethan wedding-odes, while renderings of the famous Integer vitae ode of Horace are frequently met with before 1600. But, until the coming of Ben Jonson, the influence of the classical lyric on English poetry was fitful and uncertain. Its supporters, only too often, had followed wandering fires; and, led astray by metrical heresies, their classicism had found expression in the attempt to reproduce in rimeless quantitative verse the Sapphic or Anacreontic measures of antiquity.   4

  Decline of the sonnet Influence of Jonson  
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