The Scottish Sonneteers and the French Poets

L. E. Kastner
1907 Modern Language Review  
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more » ... HE SCOTTISH SONNETEERS AND THE FRENCH POETS. I PROPOSE, in the following article, to show that the Scottish Sonneteers of the beginning of the seventeenth century, more particularly William Drummond of Hawthornden, were largely indebted to the French poets of the second half of the sixteenth century. In his excellent edition of the Poems of Druminond (1894) W. C. Ward has proved that the Scottish poet had levied heavy loans on the Italian poets-more particularly Marino. His 'Notes' contain more than fifty poems or fragments of poems by Petrarch, Tasso, Guarini and Marino, which Drummond borrowed more or less directly. Long before Ward proved his case, it had been generally admitted that Drummond owed a good deal to the Italian poets, though very few instances had actually been quoted. No one, I believe, has so far traced the influence of French poetry on Drummond, and yet the result of the present investigation, I venture to think, demonstrates clearly that it was almost as considerable as that exercised by the Italian poets, with this difference that it was exclusively confined, apparently, to one poet, namely Phillippe Desportes, the author of Diane and other sonnet-collections, and himself an inveterate plagiarist from the Italians and from the Spanish poet Montemayor. It is well known, now, what a large number of sonnets contained in the Elizabethan sonnet-cycles were filched from the author of Diane. The infatuation of contemporary English poetsto whom must now be added Drummond-for the conceits and hyperboles of this purely court poet is really remarkable, and not a little difficult to explain. One would naturally expect them to go to Ronsard and Du Bellay for their models rather than to the Abbe de Tiron. It is true that the chief of the Pldiade and his lieutenant were not neglected, but they never enjoyed a tithe of Desportes' popularity. The fact, remains, and is not a very flattering testimony to the taste of the poets concerned. Once it had been established that Drummond was largely indebted to the Italian poets, it was not unreasonable, in view especially M. L. I. III. 1
doi:10.2307/3712882 fatcat:tpvhd6pbmvetpmmv336fjqkwom