Book Chapter

Poets in the Age of James VI



Williams KJ (2023) Poets in the Age of James VI. In: The Blackwell Companion to Scottish Literature. London: Blackwell.

First paragraph: Ane rype ingyne, ane quick and vvalkned vvitt, VVith sommair reasons, suddenlie applyit, For euery purpose vsing reasons fitt, VVith skulfulnes, vvhere learning may be spyit, VVith pithie vvordis, for to expres zovv by it His full intention in his proper leid, The puritie quhair of, vveill hes he tryit: VVith memorie to keip quhat he dois reid, VVith skilfulnes and figuris, quhilks proceid From Rhetorique, vvith euerlasting fame, VVith vtthers vvoundring, preassing vvith all speid For to atteine to merite sic a name. All thir into the perfyte Poete be. Goddis, grant I may obteine the Laurell trie. This description of the "perfyte poete", published by the eighteen year-old and newly emancipated king, James VI, opens his own guidebook for poetic composition, "Ane Schort Treatise, Conteining Some Reulis and Cautelis to be Observit and Eschewit in Scottis Poesie," and paints a picture of what the king saw as the ideal Renaissance writer of verse. They were intelligent, witty, technically skilfull, able to fully express themselves in their native tongue, well-read, intimately familiar with Renaissance rhetoric, and possessed of the talent to distill their natural abilities into polished verse. James, having passed his youth under the none-too-tender tutelage of the great humanist poet George Buchanan, who "gar me speik latin ar I could speik Scotis", was in a position to know what a good poet looked like. As Aysha Pollnitz has demonstrated, the prince's tutors ensured his grounding in the Greek and Latin writers of antiquity while also recovering the looted library of his mother, Queen Mary, a collection which was rich in more "courtly" literature, including Ronsard, du Bellay, Dante, and a host of other continental poets and which was read with attention by their student.

James VI; Scotland; Poetry

Output Status: Forthcoming

StatusIn Press
Publication date online31/03/2023
Publisher URL…sbn10=1119651565
Place of publicationLondon

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Dr Kelsey Williams

Dr Kelsey Williams

Associate Professor, English Studies

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