The Sonnet-Series (Cont.)

In this year [1593] also appeared Lodge's Phillis; a collection of sonnets and songs.1 How much Lodge owes to the example of the sonneteers just mentioned is not known, for in 1591 he left Englaud with Cavendish for Brazil and did not return until 1593. It is most likely that he wrote his sonnets before he left, and was acquainted with Sidney's Astrophel. Not only is this likely from the promptness with which the poems appeared after his return, but in the descriptions of the sea, which they contain, there is no realism whatever, such as might be expected from an observing Elizabethan fresh from a voyage.

Lodge evidently wrote while the pastoral mood was fashionable, for his sequence, more than any other, makes use of Arcadian backgrounds and images. Most of the ideas are expressed figuratively in flowers or plants, as in the sonnet devoted to Phillis' sickness:--

"How languisheth the primrose of love's garden!" etc.2

The usual love-plaint, describing the hard heart of the lady, uses a similar image of a broken flower--

"Ah, pale and dying infant of the spring,

How rightly now do I resemble thee!"3

1Elizabethan Sonnet-Cycles, Crow, i.

2Ibid., p. 20.

3Ibid., p.18.

In one lyric the poet describes the physical beauty of his mistress;1 in this of course he is following the sonnet convention. He seems more sincere, however, as he is certainly more noble, in the sonnet in which he exalts her spiritual charms;2 some praise the looks of their fair queens, he says, but Phillis excels in eloquence, wisdom, modesty, and faith.

At intervals throughout the collection, and especially toward the end, occur interpolated lyrics. None of them show any particular importance in external form, for though Lodge has often the effect of variety, he rarely attempts innovations. Some of his lyrics he calls "odes"; others he calls "songs." There is no distinction, however, between the two classes. Of the odes, the best is, "Now I find thy looks were feigned."3 Of the songs, the best known are probably "My Phillis hath the morning sun,"4 and "Love gilds the roses of thy lips."5

Phillis differs from the other sequences in being evidently completed by the poet; there is no such unfinished feeling as is got from the Astrophel. Lodge's concluding sonnet is significant in that it commends the series not only to the lady but also to the reader; the poet evidently drops his lover's mask.

1Elizabethan Sonnet-Cycles, i. p. 52.

2Ibid., p. 33.

3Ibid., p. 71.

4Ibid., p. 28.

5Ibid., p. 26.