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The Book of Psalms and the early modern sonnet

Serjeantson, D (2015) 'The Book of Psalms and the early modern sonnet.' Renaissance Studies, 29 (4). pp. 632-649. ISSN 0269-1213

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Abstract

Psalms and sonnets were the most popular lyric genres in early modern English writing. Little scholarly attention, however, has been paid to the common ground between the two forms, largely because they have been perceived as incompatible, with one epitomizing the sacred, and the other, the secular, literature of their day. Nonetheless, sixteenth-century writers often moved from one genre to the other; the first sonnet sequence in English (Anne Lock's A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner, 1560), takes the form of a translation of Psalm 51; and paraphrases of other psalms appear in sonnet sequences by Barnabe Barnes and Henry Lok. The figure of David as psalmist and poet is invoked in sonnets as well as psalms, and the diction of the biblical texts was harnessed and remade for the secular tradition. This essay argues for a close relationship between psalms and sonnets, and through an examination of the influences exerted on both genres, including contemporary poetics and Petrarchism, it suggests that both the biblical Book of Psalms, and the broader tradition of psalm translation, provided an important model for the early modern English sonnet sequence.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Barnabe Barnes;Henry Lok;Psalms;sonnets;sonnet sequences
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Faculty of Humanities
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2015 20:33
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:22
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14442

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