Transatlantic Lifelines: Anne Bradstreet’s “Elegie upon That Honorable and Renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney”
Arcadians knowe no Other, for Apollo,No other Mars (in Armes or Arts to followAs Demi-Gods, as well of Warre as Wit)Then Sidneys yerst, or Semi-Sidneys, yet.
2. Lifelines and New Strains
3. Grave Markers: English Literary Tradition and Sidney’s International Legacy
La France et le Piedmont et les Cieux et les Arts,Les Soldats et le Monde ont fait comme six partsDe ce grand Bonivet: Car une si grand’ choseDedans un seul tombeau ne pouvoit estre enclose.La France en a le corps qu’elle avoit eslevé,Le Piedmont a le coeur qu’il avoit esprouvé;Les Cieux en ont l’esprit, et les Arts la memoire,Les Soldats le regret, et le Monde la Gloire.29
England, Netherlands, the Heavens, and the Arts,The Souldiors, and the World, have made six partsOf the noble Sydney: for none will suppose,That a small heape of stones can Sydney enclose.His body hath England, for she it bred,Netherland his blood, in her defence shed:The Heavens have his soule, the Arts have his fame,All Souldiors the greefe, the World his good name.30
Raleigh’s Sidney is entombed in body, mind, and spirit in the Phoenix Nest in which the shepherd-knight’s legacy is published. Two years later, Raleigh’s anonymous epitaph appeared in Edmund Spenser’s belated Colin Clouts Come Home Againe (1595), which is addressed to Raleigh, who is cast as Colin Clout’s companion.England doth hold thy lims that bred the same,Flaunders thy valure where it last was tried,The Campe thy sorrow where thy bodie died,Thy friends, thy want; the world, thy vertues fame.Nations thy wit, our mindes lay up thy love,Letters thy learning, thy losse, yeeres long to come,In worthy harts sorrow hath made thy tombe,Thy soule and spright enrich the heavens above.
4. Sidney’s Muses
Too late my errour see, that durst presumeTo fix my faltring lines upon his tomb.
The champion of epic poetry, the beautiful-voiced Calliope, together with Terpsichore, who inspires lyrical verse and dance, is among Sidney’s muses. Sidney also has mastered the arts of Poly(hy)mnia, Euterpe, and Clio, who are next in line. Then, as author of the posthumously published The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (1590), Sidney was guided by Thalia and Melpomene, Bradstreet implies. In conventional elegies, the muses are summoned to lament the deceased. Angel Day, for example, had asked the nymphs where they directed their gaze: “Thalia with her pleasant layes? / fine Erato in gladsome Ditties drest, / And faire Caliop’, statelier then the rest[?]”(Day 1587, p. 3).40 In her elegy, Bradstreet is not only intent on doing a complete roll call of the nine, but also reminds the reader who is king. Bradstreet’s Apollo-Sidney exhibits the combination and culmination of the muses’ “ninefold wit”. But who is missing in the lineup on Parnassus? The verse pillar or column Bradstreet erected at the start of her poem includes all but Erato and Urania. In the conclusion of both editions of Bradstreet’s elegy on Sidney, however, “Errata” rather than Erato (“lovely”—the Greek muse of lyric and love poetry)41 supplies the pen that Bradstreet’s poet-speaker utilizes to compose the tribute. “Errata” thus is among the nine.42 And what about Urania, who was also the “Christian muse” in Protestant poetic tradition, to which Du Bartas was a formidable contributor? In the poem to Sidney, Bradstreet identifies herself with the figure of Worth-Urania-Pamphilia-Stella.43 She is related to Wroth through lines of descent and a literary tradition: entering Bradstreet’s elegy by way of strained, labyrinthine verses, Wroth is Bradstreet’s Urania, just as Sidney is her Apollo.Bradstreet herself will transfer noble status to Sidney, and crown him as Apollo:Calliope with Terpsichore did sing,Of poesy, and of music, he was king;His rhetoric struck Polymnia dead,His eloquence made Mercury39 wax red:His logic from Euterpe won the crown,More worth was his than Clio could set down.Thalia and Melpomene, say truth,(Witness Arcadia penned in his youth)Are not his tragic comedies so acted,As if your ninefold wit had been compacted.
The poem resembles Greek and Roman epitaphs and early modern imitations of those models, like the elegiac epigrams by Ben Jonson, for example. Bradstreet’s tombstone inscription preserves “in fame under this stone, Philip and Alexander both in one”. (Princely) Philip Sidney is aligned figuratively and literally with Philip of Macedon, king of Macedonia. But the line “Philip and Alexander both in one” refers to the “self-same blood[lines]” (Bradstreet 1650, p. 192), relating Philip II to his son, Alexander III the Great, King of Macedon in the fourth century BCE.46 The concise epigrammatic lines expand the significance of strains by demonstrating what English strains can connect and accomplish.Here lies in fame under this stonePhilip and Alexander both in one;Heir to the Muses, the son of Mars in truth,Learning, valour, wisdom, all in virtuous youth.His praise is much, this shall suffice my pen,That Sidney died ’mong most renowned of men.
Conflicts of Interest
(Bradstreet 1650). “An Elegie upon that Honorable and renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney, who was untimely slaine at the Siege of Zutphon[sic], Anno 1586” (Bradstreet 1650, p. 195). Quotations of Bradstreet’s poetry contained in her first volume are taken from The Tenth Muse (1650). The edition lacks line numbers, and thus quotations are cited by page number in the body of the essay. Throughout this essay, I have modernized f/s, u/v, i/j, f/s in the typography of quotations from early modern sources.
(van Dorsten 1962, p. 154). In the Netherlands, commemorative verses are recorded only in Leiden, not in Utrecht or Amsterdam or Zeeland (164).
A list of mourners was compiled by Richard Lea, an officer of the College of Arms or official heraldic authority for England. Ronald Strickland interprets the list as prescriptive (Strickland 1990, p. 36 n27). The funeral roll, of which several copies are extant, was produced by Thomas Lant, a herald responsible for funerals of the aristocracy. A series of 30 engravings by Theodor de Brij/Bry offers a record of the ceremonial procession and its 344 participants, identified by name and rank. See (Lant 1587.) The plates are printed in (Nichols 2014, pp. 285–314).
This was not the 10-year old Thomas Dudley, future father of Anne Bradstreet. There are “so many Thomas Dudleys, and so many Captain Dudleys”, reports Dean Dudley, who supplies a long list (Dudley 1886, pp. 28, 34). Among the Thomas Dudleys was a servant and kinsman of the Earl of Leicester.
Bradstreet’s poem is only loosely an elegy. It is primarily a panegyric, though this essay refers to it as an elegy because of the titular term. Certainly “An Elegie” is indebted to the Latin term elogium (tomb inscription [from Greek elegia “elegy”]), which it literally inscribes in “His Epitaph”.
Josuah Sylvester, Dedication to the 1613 elegy on William Sidney. (Sylvester 1621, p. 1154). I cite primarily the 1621 edition of Du Bartas His Divine Weekes and Workes because it contains Lacrymae Lacrymarum/Lachrimæ Lachrimarum.
Bradstreet’s earliest extant poem, “Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno. 1632”, does not appear in the 1650 Tenth Muse. The poem was published in a supplementary section of the 1678 volume, “Several other Poems made by the Author upon Diverse Occasions, were found among her Papers after her Death” (Bradstreet 1678). The modern edition of the 1678 volume cited in this essay is dated Bradstreet 2010. Except where noted, all quotations from the 1678 edition of Bradstreet’s volume are from Hensley’s edition, and cited by line and page numbers in the body of the essay.
Auger 2019. Du Bartas’ Legacy in England and Scotland also referred. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 22.
For example, the 1650 edition features the name Anne Bradstreet on p. 2. Her poem, “The Prologue”, is signed “A.B.” (p. 4) in the 1650 edition only; “The four Seasons” are signed. “A.B.” (p. 64) in the 1650 edition only. “In honour of Du Bartas” is dated (Sylvester 1641) and signed “A.B.” (p. 196) in the 1650 only, though the 1678 edition also includes the 1641 date.
Some verses retain the second person pronouns: ll. 41–51, p. 202.
Ann Stanford begins with a direct connection between Bradstreet and Sir Philip Sidney; in her veins ran that same Dudley blood of which Sir Philip had been so proud (Stanford 1974).
(Wallace 1915, p. 69). The letter is dated 1591.
Ann Stanford argues that Bradstreet’s dropping of the claim to kinship is not a retraction but a concession to decorum (Stanford 1983, p. 98).
(Ivic 2003, p. 202). Auger in Du Bartas’ Legacy devotes a section to Bradstreet’s imitation of Du Bartas (171–77). He mentions Bradstreet’s reference to “self-same blood” (Auger, 173) but doesn’t acknowledge the significant editorial change to the phrase in the second edition of the elegy.
Pedigree, lineage, ancestry, descent. “strain, n.5”. (OED 2021). March 2021. Oxford University Press (accessed on 16 April 2021); see also 1600 W. Shakespeare Much Ado about Nothing ii. i. 355 “He is of a noble strain, of approoued valour, and confirmde honesty”.
“strain, n.8.a”. OED 2021. Oxford University Press
(Davies 1613, D2r). My emphasis.
(Sylvester 1612). Bound with the edition of Lachrimæ Lachrimarum was “An Elegie and Epistle Consolatorie against Immoderate Sorrow for th’ immature Decease of Sr William Sidney, knight, Sonne and Heire apparant to the Right Honourable Robert, Lord Sidney
Ann Stanford recognized that the elegy is modelled on Sylvester’s elegy on William Sidney (Stanford, p. 97). Wright notes the connection of veins (Wright 1996, p. 246). See also (Alexander 2006, p. 142). Alexander, who opts for 1640 as a cut-off date, doesn’t include Bradstreet in his afterlife of Sidney (Alexander 2006).
“An Anagram” (Bradstreet 1650, A8v).
I./J. W. [John Woodbridge], “To my deare Sister, the Author of these Poems” (Bradstreet 1650, A5v). The 1678 edition contains the same lines with variations in the typography (ll. 74–6, p. 6).
Lady Mary Wroath [sic], “Pamphilia to Amphilanthus” [independently paginated] (Wroth 1621, p. 36).
The Tenth Muse had included two additional lines: “Calls me ambitious fool, that durst aspire,/Enough for me to look, and so admire” (Bradstreet 1650, p. 194).
(Sylvester 1621, pp. 1155, 1170). The 4-page elegy (pp. 1155, 1168–1170; Gggg2r–Gggg3v) is irregularly numbered.
(Du Bellay 1569). Divers Poemes. Paris: Federic Morel; quoted in (Fanlo 2005, p. 98). The epitaph is quoted with variations in (Du Bellay 1918). Sir George Buc’s Poetica identified the epitaph’s source, according to an entry in “Epitaphes” in (Camden 1605, p. 54; Bond 1943, p. 256, 256n10, 12). See also (Whetstone 1587).
(Spenser 1595), Astrophel. A Pastorall Elegie upon the death of the most Noble and valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney.
In “In Honour of That High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth”, neither the “Phoenix pen, nor Spenser’s poetry” can restore Elizabeth, the “Phoenix queen”, decides (Bradstreet 2010, ll. 24, 94, pp. 210, 212).
[L. B.], “The mourning Muse of Thestylis” (Spenser 1595, H2r).
Anon. “Another of the Same”, (Phoenix Nest 1593, p. 11). Also published in Spenser 1595, K3, where the poem and the quoted lines are the final words in the volume.
Anon. “Hexameters, Upon the never-enough praised Sir Phillip Sidney” and “Another upon the same”, in (Davison 1602), np. The volume is dedicated to William Herbert, nephew of Sir Philip Sidney.
Mercury, along with Minerva, compares Bradstreet’s work with Du Bartas’s in Nathaniel Ward’s commendatory poem [“Mercury shew’d Apollo…”], which identifies Bradstreet as “a right Du Bartas Girle” (Bradstreet 1650, A4r).
In “In Honour of Du Bartas, 1641”, that honour is bestowed on Du Bartas—“Parnassus’ Glory” (Bradstreet 1650, l. 87, p. 208).
For Erato’s role in Du Bartas, see (Sylvester 1621, A4).
On the relationship between Errata and Erato, the Muse of erotic poetry in (Sweet 1988, p. 160)
On Bradstreet’s relationship with the Sidney circle’s female authors—Wroth; her aunt, Mary Sidney Herbert; Philip Sidney’s own daughter, Elizabeth, for example—see (Gillespie 2017, pp. 206–7).
“The Third Monarchy, Being the Grecian, Beginning under Alexander the Great in the 112 Olympiad”, (Bradstreet 2010, ll. 3416–19, p. 185).
“Great Alexander was wise Philip’s son”, Bradstreet states in “The Third Monarchy, Being the Grecian”, l. 1597, p. 130. Bradstreet would detail his conquests by declaring his fame would “last … whilst there is Land” (p. 148, ll. 2577–78); he “oft lament[ed] … / There were no more worlds to be conquered” (ll. 2601–2, p. 160).
[L. B.], “The mourning Muse of Thestylis” (Spenser 1595, H2r).
“Belgia bewails her helmsman, Britannia the child she bred; and justified is the grief of both for such a violent death: Troy was thrown in no less disorder when Hector’s body was dragged away, and Hellas wept as much when Ajax was killed” (Janus Dousa the Younger 1591, p. 54).
I./J. W. [John Woodbridge], “To my deare Sister, the Author of these Poems” (Bradstreet 1650, A4v, A5r). The 1678 edition contains the same lines with variations in the typography (l. 5, p. 4; ll. 41–2, p. 5).
John Norton, “A Funeral Elogy, upon … Mrs. Anne Bradstreet” (Bradstreet 1678, p. 254). Hensley excludes the elegy from her 1967/2010 edition.
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Sauer, E. Transatlantic Lifelines: Anne Bradstreet’s “Elegie upon That Honorable and Renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney”. Humanities 2021, 10, 122. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040122
Sauer E. Transatlantic Lifelines: Anne Bradstreet’s “Elegie upon That Honorable and Renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney”. Humanities. 2021; 10(4):122. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040122Chicago/Turabian Style
Sauer, Elizabeth. 2021. "Transatlantic Lifelines: Anne Bradstreet’s “Elegie upon That Honorable and Renowned Knight, Sir Philip Sidney”" Humanities 10, no. 4: 122. https://doi.org/10.3390/h10040122