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Drummond, William


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649), always given the title of his estate to distinguish him from other William Drummonds of his day, has a claim to be reckoned the greatest Scots lyric poet between William Dunbar at the beginning of the sixteenth century and Robert Burns at the end of the eighteenth. Like many of his contemporaries in the court and society of James VI and I, he was both well read in French and Italian literature, and a tolerable classicist; he did not strive to be original in lyric composition, but observed and used the stylistic features of late Petrarchist and early Mannerist rhetoric. But where others imitated, Drummond absorbed, from Horace, Francesco Petrarch, Pietro Bembo, Torquato Tasso, Giovanni Guarini, and Giambattista Marino, as well as from Philip Sidney, Samuel Daniel, and, it is suggested, Shakespeare, whose sonnets he appears to have known. From these writers and others, he took the themes, the phrases, and the mannerisms that suited his own habitual preoccupations with mutability and eternity, and set them to more splendid, and sometimes subtler, melodies in verse than most of his contemporaries could manage. He can be pedantic and vain of his learning; he has not the fierce disruptive wit of John Donne, or the modest terse profundity of George Herbert, but though he never knew John Milton, whose politics he would have abhorred, when Drummond's ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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