The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth Century Verse
In the sixty years since we published the original Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse, a revolution in literary taste has taken place. We now know that Elizabethan literature contained much more than dainty pastorals and lovely sonnets, and that in fact many poetic traditions flourished
within the sixteenth century. Now, Emrys Jones has brought together a definitive collection of verse which truly captures the diversity of this period.
By no means have the classics of Elizabethan literature been replaced--there are ample selections from Spenser's Faerie Queen, from Shakespeare's sonnets and plays (including Ariel's song from The Tempest: Full fathom five thy father lies...), and from John Donne (who actually produced many
poems in the sixteenth century, although he has previously been thought of only as a poet of the next century). But alongside these well-known works, Jones has placed a vast array of other significant poems--from the early part of the century (when poets such as John Skelton still harkened back to
Chaucer and feudal times) to the great Elizabethan period (when it seems everybody, including the Queen, was writing admirable verse).
Managing both to be inclusive and to maintain the high literary standards of the earlier collection, The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse (with its engaging and informative introduction, and its copious footnotes which gloss unfamiliar words) conveys in unparalleled style all the
richness of what is arguably the greatest century of English literature.
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