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N. Duda

Seventeenth-century English poetry in the secular solo songs by Henry Purcell

The subject of the article is the texts of the poets of Purcell's contemporaries, which served as a literary basis for the secular non-theatrical songs of the "British Orpheus". The list of masters of the word includes names very well-known to lovers of poetry during the Restoration – these are Abraham Cowley, Charles Sedley, Katherine Philips, Thomas Stanley, playwrights George Etherege, William Congreve, Nahum Tate, Thomas D`Urfey, as well as lesser-known poets – Matthew Prior, editor of the popular London Gentleman`s Journal Peter Anthony Motteux, Anne Wharton and others.

The author believes that the dominant factors in the selecting of text were the popularity of the poet and the ease of setting the poetic lines. Nevertheless, for the modern reader and listener, the lyrics of the Restoration have an undoubted artistic and historical value, reflecting, sometimes in seemingly unpretentious poems, the tastes and aesthetic priorities of the era. The article highlights the main figurative spheres of Purcell's songs, connected, on the one hand, with the erotic poetry of 'court wits', and, on the other hand, with the theme of nature and loneliness, with motives of sadness and loss, with mourning symbolism.

The poems are replete with allusions to the poetry of Shakespeare and the Cavalier poets of the first half of the seventeenth century, evoke associations with Greek and Roman poetry, building invisible bridges between the writings of Anacreon, Theocritus and Horace and the educated listeners of the second half of the seventeenth century, who probably knew ancient works by heart. Intellectuals from Purcell's surroundings could certainly appreciate direct quotations from Shakespeare, as in the case of the song "If music be the food of love".

Key words

Restoration poets, Henry Purcell, secular solo song, Libertinage.

For citation

Duda N. Seventeenth-century English poetry in the secular solo songs by Henry Purcell // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2022. No. 1. Pp. 26–31.