In 1596 appeared Richard Linche's Diella, a series of thirty-nine English sonnets.1 Only a word of comment is needed. The sequence is thoroughly conventional, but fairly well done. There is an interesting return to a theme of the first miscellanies, in the tenth sonnet, where the poet tells how with the springtime all things revive save the grieving heart of the lover.2 The musical instrument reappears in the sixteenth sonnet:--
"But thou my dear sweet-sounding lute be still."3
A theme which becomes more important, as the sonnet fashion draws near its climax in Shakspere, is what might be called the night-thoughts of the lover. As expressed here in the nineteenth sonnet, it is a mood of disappointment, which comes on the lover when he wakes from dreaming of his lady.4 Among the descriptions of Diella's beauty should be noticed the usual comparison to a classic goddess;5 here the compliment is framed into an episode, in which Cupid falls in love with her, and Venus is jealous lest she should win the affection of Mars.
At times the conventionality of the sequence is interrupted by an odd allusion or a queer trick of style. A good exainple of the first is the reference to the American Indian in the eighth sonnet:--
Thyne eyes (those semynaries of my griefe)
Have been more gladsome to my tyre'd spright,
Than naked savages receive reliefe
By comfort-bringing warmth of Phoebus' light."6
A conscious and very old method, by which a small idea is stretched out to cover the fourteen lines, is the antithetical use of images, as in the fourteenth sonnet.7 When rivers run uphill, and sheep devour wolves, and fish climb mountains, and bears swim, then the poet will cease to love. But rivers cannot run uphill, nor sheep devour wolves, nor fish come on land, nor bears swim; therefore the poet will not cease to love.
Of a finer inspiration is the sonnet in which Time is bidden to turn back and consider how beautiful Diella is.8 The Renascence note of sadness is absent from this contemplation of swift-passing beauty, but the images are exactly those which Shakepere uses for the same theme, and the effect somewhat recalls his fine apostrophe.
1Grosart's Occasional Issues, iv.
2Ibid., p. 16.
3Ibid., p. 23.
4Ibid., p. 26.
5Ibid., p. 11.
6Ibid., p. 14.
7Ibid., p. 21.
8Ibid., p. 9.