SIR PHILIP SIDNEY (1554- 1586)
Sidney was a poet, courtier, soldier, and statesman. He was a fine example of the Renaissance ideal of aristocracy and was regarded as an ideal Englishman. He became a pattern in a number of elegies to him including one by Edmund Spenser (Astrophel). He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Zutphen in Flanders, where he is reputed to have passed a cup of water to a dying soldier with the gentlemanly words, “Thy need is greater than mine.”
Most of his writings date from 1580-83, when he was temporarily out of favor with Elizabeth-I for political reasons and when he was living with his sister, Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke at Wilson House near Salisbury.
All three important works were published posthumously.
(a) Astrophel and Stella: It is Sidney’s most famous sonnet sequence which was published in 1590. It inspired many sonneteers including Shakespeare. The sonnets in this book are addressed to Lady Penelope.
(b) Arcadia: It is a prose romance that was started in 1580 and published in 1590. This pastoral romance contains several eclogues and it became so popular that many poets imitated it in the subsequent years after the poet’s death.
(c) An Apology for Poetry: It was published in 1595 in response to Stephen Crosson’s pamphlet “The School of Abuse’.