The Sonnet-Series (Cont.)

To this same year [1596] belongs Chloris, a collection of forty-eight sonnets by William Smith.1 This sequence is very plainly an imitation of contemporary sonnets, written from an honest ambition to be in the fashion. In the third sonnet2 and in the epilogue,3 the poet makes his frank apologies to the other sonneteers for not following them with a surer foot. The two opening sonnets4 and the last,5 all in praise of Spenser, are more spirited, and at least they do credit to Smith's critical judgment.

The series is pastoral in tone. The thirteenth sonnet tells an incident from Tasso's Aminta and the fourteenth refers to that poem and to that poet by name; no doubt the influence extended over the rest of the sequence.

1Grosart's Occasional Issues, iv.

2Ibid., p. 4.

3Ibid., p. 29.

4Ibid., p. 3.

5Ibid., p. 28.

The fauns and the sylvans are called upon to plead with the obdurate Chloris; even the pine-trees, under whose shade she rests, are bidden help persuade her. This is the most decided expression of Chloris' cruelty; for the most part the poet is very humble, and seems to ascribe to his own unworthiness his small success in love.

The only technical experiment is a revival of the old echo song in the form of sonnet, in which the echoes, read together, constitute a new poem:--

"O fairest faire to tbse I make my plaint,

To thee from whom my cause of grief doth spring

Attentive be unto the grones sweete Saint

Which unto thee in doleful tunes I sing.

My mournful muse doth alwaies speak of thee,

My love is pure O do it not disdaine,

With bitter sorrow still oppress not me

But mildly looke upon me which complaine.

Kill not my true-affecting thoughts, but give

Such pretious balm of comfort to my heart,

But casting off despaire in hope to live,

I may find helpe at length to ease my smart.

So shall you adde such courage to my love,

That fortune false my faith shall not remove."1

1Occasional Issues, iv. p. 12.