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Sidney, Machiavelli, poetics


"I wish not there should be / Graved in mine epitaph a poet's name," asserts Astrophil late in Sidney's sonnet sequence (AS 90.8-9), and on this point at least we may safely assume that Astrophil speaks for Sidney as well. Indeed, recent scholarship emphasizes that Sidney was drawn more to the arena of politics than to the world of letters, a world that he himself called only his "unelected vocation" (Works 3: 3). James M. Osborn, for example, in his Young Philip Sidney 1572-1577, stresses Sidney's patient preparation for and lifelong commitment to the theory and practice of statecraft. Richard McCoy finds that Sidney's poetics were shaped, in part, by certain crises of state within Elizabeth's court during the 1570s, while Andrew D. Weiner reads all of Sidney's works in the light of an identifiable "Protestant poetic," as hammered out in the smithy oof the Leicester-Walsingham political faction. Other recent studies reveal that Sidney undertook the composition of the Arcadia only because his urgent objections to Elizabeth's proposed match with the Duke of Alençon had brought about a hiatus in his own political activity at court.