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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The year 1595 saw the publication of the marriage volume Amoretti and Epithalamion, and a less homogenous volume that contains Spenser's second pastoral, Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, his pastoral elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel, and six other pastoral elegies on Sidney, including one that may (or may not) be by Spenser, The Doleful Lay of Clorinda. This article suggests that the 1595 Colin Clout volume is historic as the first book in English literature to feature the national poet as the center of a national community of fellow poets and civic leaders, especially Ralegh and Queen Elizabeth, who were themselves poets. In particular, the book depicts the English poet performing two vital roles as part of a national community: first, in Colin Clout Spenser presents his persona leading the nation because he has undergone a divinely inspired vision of purified erotic desire; and second, in Astrophel and The Doleful Lay he presents himself as a funeral poet helping the nation process its grief after he has undergone a professional vision of the soul's immortality, of the place of the national poet in eternity. The two roles cohere in their wisdom about the sanctified character of poetic identity within a civic world of national achievement, as well as in their underlying project: ‘Poetry serves as a consolation for loss’.

Keywords: pastoral elegies, poetry, national community, funeral poet, poetic identity, consolation

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