Fulke Greville

Life's a Top Which Whipping Sorrow Driveth

Not a new poet to those who love, as I do the 16th and 17th Century poets.  But one who is too seldom read, living, and writing as he did in the shadow of one of the great geniuses of literature.  His own mean gifts do not rise to the height of the Bard, but then, so few do--should we neglect all those who do not?


  1. You say that Fulke Greville's 'own mean gifts do not rise to the height of the Bard' but there are many who believe that his are the ONLY mean gifts to compare with Shakespeare's- to the point of being very similar. The closer one examines FG the greater appears his genius with poetic forms. FG is the greatest literary mystery man of the Renaissance who you rightly claim to have written, at his own conscious bidding, in the shadow of a great genius- not Shakespeare but his close friend Philip Sidney.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    And Sidney himself wrote in the same shadow. I would not value Greville at the height of Shakespeare, but perhaps only because the opus isn't quite so extensive. And as to Sir Philip, while I value his work, I would again not rate it so high as Shakespeare's own--if only in the matter of influence. And perhaps that is where most of my evaluation really lay. Not in comparing the works, but in comparing the influence. And perhaps that is not fair. To be honest, I prefer Greville's poetry to Shakespeare's. While I find some of Shakespeare's sonnets transcendent, I find many of them too bitter, trenchant, or otherwise disenchanted to be able to make a steady diet of them. So, in that, Greville's work (in poetry) certainly has the wider range. Perhaps there is much to what you say here. Ditto Sir Philip, if only for the poetry. But when one encounters the Bard, one encounters not only the poetry, but also the plays and the influence. In that, the two do not compare, similar though the work may seem.

    Thank you for taking the time to write. It is consoling and indeed, delightful, to know that there are others out there who value these works as much as I do. Sometimes you wonder whether you are the only one who has set eyes on them, even as you know you are not. But so rarely are they mentioned outside of academic circles, one does wonder.




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