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When Poets Wrote About Love, They Were, As Often As Not, Writing About What Really Concerned Them, Namely Their Prospects Of Advancement At Court. Do You Agree (One Or Two Poets) Notes

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4. When

poets

wrote

about

love,

they

were,

as

often

as

not,

writing

about

what


really

concerned

them,

namely

their

prospects

of

advancement

at

court.

Do

you


agree?

(one

or

TWO

poets)


During

the

16th

and

17th

century,

the

marketplace

of

patrons

and

poets

was

not

only


the

cause

of

much

of

the

verses

written

but

also

the

subject

matter.

A

poet's


dependence

upon

Patronage

to

earn

a

living

exposed

him

to

the

obvious

charge

of


servility

or

worst,

as

Nashe

described

it,

of

"prostituting

my

pen

like

a

courtesan".


The

necessarily

conflict

between

a

poet's

moral

and

artistic

integrity

and

his


enforced

servitude

did

much

to

develop

the

thinking

and

expression

of

the

poet's


standing

and

status

and

his

claims

to

poetic

authority

in

the

poetry

of

the

period.


Poets

were

frequently

accused

of

being

"cunning

princepleasers"

(Puttenham)

and


of

devaluing

the

worth

of

poetry

itself.

Despite

the

negative

associations

of


patronage,

it

was

nonetheless

a

necessity

for

many

poets

and

so

in

order

to

avoid


such

accusation,

a

variety

of

personas

and

conceits

were

developed.

Throughout

the


period

writers

would

present

themselves

as

'amateurs'

or

gentleman

poets

whose


verses

modestly

deprecated

as

'trifles'

in

order

to

create

a

sense

of

sincerity.

One


common

motif

of

the

plain

man

or

'silly

shepherd'

who

like

Spencer's

Colin

Clout


"know

not

how

to

feign

nor

with

love

to

cloak

distain".

However,

the

most

powerful


and

widely

used

persona

was

that

of

the

lover.

In

addressing

themselves

to

female


patrons,

male

poets

had

recourse

to

a

literary

role

of

lover

that

was

as

conventional


as

the

pastoral

shepherd

but

more

adaptable.

The

role

of

the

lover

allowed

the


writers

to

poetically

"prostrate"

themselves

at

the

mercy

of

their

mistresses

in

an


socially

accepted

obsequious

position.

Rather

than

debase

themselves

and

their

art


for

money,

they

could

pose

as

humble

servants

to

the

love

wanting

only

the


recognition

and

favour

of

the

object

of

their

affections.

When

the

monarch

herself


happened

to

be

a

woman

as

with

Elizabeth,

and

even

later

with

Queen

Anne,

this


model

of

courtly

suitor

developed

a

particular

resonance.


The

repeated

exploration

of

love

and

economy

in

Donne's

poetry

suggests

that

this


interplay

of

these

two

apparently

disparate

aims

was

a

common

concern

for

poets

of


the

period.

In

his

"A

Valediction

of

Weeping",

for

example

there

is

an

undertone

of


imagery

that

continually

refers

to

images

of

gold

and

wealth;

"For

thy

face

coins


them

and

thy

stamp

they

bear

/

And

by

this

mintage,

they

are

something

worth".


The

most

complex

examples

of

Donne's

exploration

of

the

configuration

of

lover

and


patron

however

is

in

his

verse

epistles

whose

direct

address

reveal

more

intensely


than

other

dedicatory

verses

the

relationship

between

poet

and

patron.

These

later


Epistles

(1605--1614),

which

were

written

to

noble

ladies

during

a

time

in

which


Donne

was

very

much

concerned

with

securing

a

position

in

public

service

reveal

the


interplay

between

a

proclamation

of

admiration

with

an

underlying

desire

for


patronage

and

promotion.

In

Donne's

New

Year's

Tide

Epistle

to

the

Countess

of


Bedford

he

uses

similar

financial

imagery

as

in

his

Valediction

of

Weeping;

he


describes

how

he

"sum[s]

[his]

years"

and

finds

himself

not

"Debtor

to

th'old,

nor


creditor

to

new".

Whilst

Donne

seems

comfortable

in

referring

to

his

muse

in

terms


of

material

wealth

as

well

as

humbling

himself

as

he

does

in

this

epistle

to

"one

corn


of

one

low

anthill's

dust,

and

less"

he

is

less

willing

to

vocalize

the

direct

exchange

of

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