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Niccols, Richard

MICHELLE O'CALLAGHAN


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


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Richard Niccols (1583/84–1616), poet and editor of the 1610 edition of the Mirour for magistrates , is an avowedly Elizabethan Jacobean poet. Writing in the early seventeenth century, he idealized Elizabeth's reign as the age of heroes not for the purposes of nostalgia but for political satire and complaint. When just a boy of 12, Niccols sailed on the 1597 Cadiz expedition, under the command of Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, later earl of Nottingham – a defining event to which he returns twice in the Mirour for magistrates . Six years later, in 1602, he matriculated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and the following year he produced his first work, Epicedium , a volume of elegies marking the death of Elizabeth I, in which he declared his poetic allegiance to Spenser and Michael Drayton. The year after he graduated from Oxford, Niccols published his The cuckow (1607); aself-consciously archaic poem, written in the medieval tradition of the bird debate, it is arguably the earliest example of politically charged Spenserian poetry. The Elizabethan nightingale and the interloper, the cuckoo, compete for pre-eminence at the court of Phoebe, a version of Spenser's Bower of Bliss and a thinly veiled satire on the Jacobean court. The nightingale's song is rejected, and she wanders in exile through a bleak winter's landscape until she finds refuge with Virginia, a figure who signifies ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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