The Sonnet-Series (Cont.)

In the same year [1594] appeared William Percy's Coelia.1 This slight sequence of twenty sonnets shows even more than Drayton's what unlyrical material was dragged into the vortex of the sonnet fashion. Percy was an intimate friend of Barnabe Barnes, and perhaps from admiration of Parthenophil, which he mentions in a so-called madrigal,2 he was led to compose a sequence of his own. The now familiar themes are copied laboriously. When Percy meets Coelia, Cupid wounds him at once. Coelia, of course, fails to reciprocate, so that her lover reproaches her for cruelty. These remonstrances show an amusing preponderance of common sense over poetry, as in the lines:--

"Dearest cruell the cause I see dislikes thee,

On us thy brows thou bende so direfully;

Enjoine me pennaunce whatsoever likes thee,

Whate're it be Ile take it thankefully.

Yet since for love it is I am thy bondman,

Good Coelia use me like a Gentleman."3

The uncertain prosody of  this quotation, especially the riming of the last two lines, is typical of Percy's art in general; he profits by none of the advances made since Wyatt's time.

Among his incidental or decorative themes, Percy introduces the usual musical image in an address to his lute:--

"Strike up, my lute, and ease my heavie cares."4

1Grosart, Occasional Issues, iv.

2Ibid., p. 25.

3Ibid., p. 11.

4Ibid., p. 12.

An old technical trick is repeated in the "echo" sonnet.1 Instead of the more usual linking of his love's beauty with Venus, through the fable that Cupid mistook the lady for his mother, Percy likens Coelia to Polyxena, and on the theory of the reincarnation of souls, defends his position stoutly.2 In the interpolation of realistic incidents he is not so happy; a good illustration is his account of how his lady accidentally stepped on his foot.3

1Ibid., p. 19.

2Ibid., p. 15.

3Ibid., p. 7.