There’s a limit to the number of sonnet sequences one can read, and try to wrestle into some sort of coherent narrative. Eventually your brain melts and your eyes go blind with the salt of your own tears. In this wonderful course of learning that is the comps year I’ve made my way through
Astrophil and Stella
Davies’s Gulling Sonnets and “10 Sonnets to Philomel”
and Wroth’s “A Crown of Sonnets Dedicated to Love” from Pamphila to Amphilanthus
That’s 323 sonnets all told. And I made the grand mistake of reading them all in the same week.
Yet after all that, I still love Sidney (because it’s impossible not to love Sidney). I also sort of love Davies, but I think by the time I got to him the brain had gone into delusions from having already read nigh-300 sonnets, and his poems about his beloved being pretty while she’s sick seemed almost sincerely charming. And I wished so very much that I’d put more of Pamphila to Amphilanthus on the list, but by the time I got to Wroth I just couldn’t bring myself to read one…more…sonnet. Not without my brain melting in earnest. (Urania‘s on my summer reading list, so no need to fear the wrath of Wroth.)
And no, I didn’t read Shakespeare or Donne, because I’ve read them before, and they’re not on the list, and you can’t make me, you can’t make me, you can’t make me.
There. These thoughts aren’t very coherent or clever, but after writing about sonnets all day it was either write my whiny thoughts or start crying again. And I really can’t afford melodramatic blindness at this point.
 tears. Early modern drama has taught me nothing so valuable as the dangers of blinding yourself with a fountain of your own bitter tears.