Renaissance poetry
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RENAISSANCE POETRY. PASTORAL POETRY CARPE DIEM SONNETS. PASTORAL POETRY. Set in an idealized countryside Inhabited by handsome shepherds and beautiful young women (nymphs) All live in harmony with nature Characters are simple country folk, yet they use sophisticated diction and imagery.

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Renaissance poetry





Pastoral poetry


  • Set in an idealized countryside

  • Inhabited by handsome shepherds and beautiful young women (nymphs)

  • All live in harmony with nature

  • Characters are simple country folk, yet they use sophisticated diction and imagery

Pastoral poetry continued


  • Many express a longing or nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent time

  • Takes its name from the Latin pastor meaning “shepherd”

  • Depict country life in idyllic, idealized terms

  • Characters are naïve and innocent yet express themselves with poetic sophistication

Pastoral poetry continued1

Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593)

Contemporary of William Shakespeare

His most famous play: The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus, which is about a man who makes a deal with the devil.

Our book tells us that Marlowe’s heroes want to be more than mere men, and only death can put an end to their grand ambitions

Marlowe is believed to have died in a bar fight about the amount of a bill (258)


The passionate shepherd to his love by christopher marlowe pg 259

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe (pg. 259)

Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountains yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks

By shallow rivers, to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.

Renaissance poetry

And I will make thee beds of roses,

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle,

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull,

Fair linèd slippers for the cold,

With buckles of the purest gold.

Renaissance poetry

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs,

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning.

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me, and be my love.

Pastoral poetry continued2


  • Sir Walter Raleigh (c. 1552 – 1618)

  • Served as Queen Elizabeth I’s confidential secretary and captain of the guard

  • Devoted to colonizing the Americas

  • Charged with treason (not true) against King James in 1603

  • Executed in 1618

  • Lived in Tower of London until execution

  • Did not think of himself as a writer; only 35 of his poems have survived (260)

  • Wrote a reply to C. Marlowe’s pastoral poem

Renaissance poetry

125 / 195-7dc. Tower of London - Brick Tower - and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Adventurer - explorer - parliamentarian - author and poet - Raleigh was the man who according to legend laid his cloak over a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth 1st. would not muddy her feet. He also introduced potatoes and tobacco into Britain from the ‘New World’, now known as North America. So why was Sir Walter Raleigh imprisoned in the Tower of London. And, not just once but on three separate occasions.

First time: Early on in his career Raleigh happened to be the favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1st. That is until in 1592 when she discovered he was secretly married to her maid-of-honour Elizabeth Throckmorton, whereupon she flew into a jealous rage and sent him to the Tower of London. Although he was later released, he was for ever more banished from the Royal Court. As for where he was imprisoned exactly, no-one really knows, although it is thought that the Brick Tower above is a likely candidate….

Renaissance poetry

....Second time: Raleigh, although admired by many, nevertheless, was not without his enemies who in 1603 persuaded James 1st that he was suspected of opposing the King’s succession to the throne. And although not sentenced to death for treason, Raleigh was nevertheless arrested and sent to the Tower of London yet again. On this occasion, however, he was definitely kept here in the Bloody Tower. And an extra floor was added so that his family, who wanted to be with him, could also be accommodated….

Renaissance poetry

On the first floor of the Bloody Tower, seen here, is Raleigh's private chamber in which you can see the writing desk where he wrote the 'History of the World'. Although it appears he did'nt get very far, as he only reached the second Macedonian War in 130 BC....

The nymph s reply to the shepherd by sir walter raleigh pg 261

“The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh (pg. 261)

If all the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move

To live with thee and be thy love.

But Time drives flocks from field to fold,

When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,

And Philomel becometh dumb;

The rest complains of cares to come.

Renaissance poetry

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields

To wayward winter reckoning yields;

A honey tongue, a heart of gall

Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,

Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies.

Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,

In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Renaissance poetry

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,

Thy coral clasps and amber studs,

All these in me no means can move

To come to thee an be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,

Had joys no date, nor age no need,

Then these delights my mind might move

To live with thee and be thy love.

Carpe diem


  • Literally means “seize the day”

  • Literary theme that urges living and loving in the present moment, since life and earthly pleasures cannot last (263)

To the virgins to make much of time by robert herrick pg 265

“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick (pg. 265)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today,

Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.

Renaissance poetry

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time;

And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime,

You may forever tarry.

To his coy mistress by andrew marvell pg 267 68

“To His Coy Mistress”by Andrew Marvell (pg. 267-68)

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, Lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews,

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires and more slow;

Renaissance poetry

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast,

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For. Lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

Renaissance poetry

But at my back I always hear

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long-preserved virginity

And your quaint honor turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust:

The grave’s a fine and private place

But none, I think, do there embrace.

Renaissance poetry

Now therefore while the youthful hue

Sits on thy like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapped power.

Renaissance poetry

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Through the iron gates of life;

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.



  • A 14 lined lyric poem

  • Conforms to a specific rhyme scheme

  • You are responsible for knowing three types of sonnets:

    1. Spenserian sonnet

    2. Petrarchan sonnet

    3. Shakespearean sonnet

Spenserian sonnet taken from literature timeless voices timeless themes

Spenserian sonnet: taken from: Literature: timeless voices, timeless themes

  • Named for the poet Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599)

  • Born into a working-class family, but later became one of the few poets who depended on his writing money for his lively hood.

  • He is most famous for his sonnet sequence called Amoretti, which is addressed to his own wife.

  • He dedicated The Faerie Queene to Elizabeth I.

  • Sonnet sequence: a group of sonnets linked by theme or subject. (206 – 07)

Spenserian sonnet continued taken from literature timeless voices tuimeless themes


  • Rhyme scheme

    ababbcbc cdcdee

  • The sonnet isdivided into two sections:

    the octave and the sestet

  • “The octave raises a question or presents a situation and the sestet gives a response.”

Edmund spenser sonnet 30

Edmund SpenserSonnet 30

My love is like to ice, and I to fire;

How comes it then that this her cold so great

Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,

But harder grows the more I her entreat?

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat

Is not delayed by her heart-frozen cold:

But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,

And feel my flames augmented manifold?

What more miraculous thing may be told

That fire which all things melts, should harden ice:

And ice which is congealed with senseless cold,

Should kindle fire by wonderful device.

Such is the pow’r of love in gentle mind,

That it can alter all the course of kind.

Petrarchan sonnet

Petrarchan sonnet

  • Also called the Italian sonnet

  • Rhyme scheme

    abbaabba ccdeed

  • Divided into two parts

    the octave and the sestet

  • The voltais the transition or turn of the sonnet usually found in the ninth line


Shakespearean sonnet

Shakespearean sonnet

  • Also called Elizabethan sonnet or English sonnet

  • Rhyme scheme

    abab cdcd efef gg

  • This kind of sonnet is divided into four parts

    three quatrainsand one coupletwhich is indented

  • The quatrains (4 lines) express related ideas

  • The couplet (2 lines) sums up the poet’s message

  • This sonnet also has a volta

  • Many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are sad because of “unrequited love” (276 – 78)

William shakespeare sonnet 18

William ShakespeareSonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling bud of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long live this, and this gives life to thee.

William shakespeare sonnet 130

William ShakespeareSonnet 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks,

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go,

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.

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