The Elizabethan Sonnet: Sidney and Shakespeare
By the latter part of the 16th century the vocabulary and pronunciation of the English language had become more or less stabilised into something resembling English spoken today. This stabilisation coincides with what is more generally known as the Renaissance: the ‘rebirth’ of European man’s awareness of his classical heritage from Greece and Rome and the resurgence of his questing spirit towards exploration and the acquisition of further knowledge in all fields. With the Renaissance came a new consciousness of the English language and a new confidence in its use as a medium for poetic expression, which found its richest and most sublime realisation in the works of Shakespeare. One of the new forms in which English poetry– including Shakespeare’s – blossomed was the sonnet.
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