Monday, May 12, 2014

Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney (1554—1586) may be considered the father of English literary criticism. In his "The Defence of Poesy", Sidney argued that poetry, by which he meant literature, was able to rouse its readers to virtue. Although this is not the intent of many writers today, this was Sidney's focus and purpose. In 1583 he began his project of versifying the Psalms, which was interrupted by his death. His sister, Mary Sidney Herbert, completed the project in 1599.

He was involved politically in the cause of uniting Protestant Europe against the Roman Catholics of Spain. In 1581 he became a member of parliament, and in 1584 Queen Elizabeth I appointed him governor of Flushing (in the Netherlands). In fighting against the Spanish at the Battle of Zutphen, a musket-shot broke his thighbone; twenty three days later he died.

Psalm 93

Clothed with state, and girt with might,
Monarch-like Jehovah reigns,
He who earth's foundation pight—
Pight at first, and yet sustains;
He whose stable throne disdains
Motions shock and age's flight;
He who endless one remains
One, the same, in changeless plight.

Rivers,—yea though the rivers roar,
Roaring though sea-billows rise,
Vex the deep, and break the shore,—
Stronger art thou, Lord of skies!
Firm and true thy promise lies
Now and still as heretofore:
Holy worship never dies
In thy house where we adore.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.