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The Tudor Society

Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester

Robert_Sidney,_1st_Earl_of_Leicester_from_NPGOn this day in 1563, Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, courtier, patron of the arts and poet, was born at Penshurst in Kent. Sidney was the second son of Sir Henry Sidney and his wife, Mary (née Dudley), daughter of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. It was discovered that Robert was a poet, like his more famous brother Philip, when his notebook came to light in the library of Warwick Castle in the 1960s. The notebook contained a collection of over sixty sonnets, pastorals, songs and shorter pieces written in the 1590s. It can now be found in the British Library.

Sonnet 31 by Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, reads:

Forsaken woods, trees with sharpe storms opprest
whose leaves once hidd, the sun, now strew the grownd
once bred delight, now scorn, late usde to sownd
of sweetest birds, now of hoars crowes the nest

Gardens which once in thowsand coulers drest
shewed natures pryde: now in dead sticks abownd
in whome prowd summers treasure late was fownd
now but the rags, of winters torn coate rest

Medows whose sydes, late fayre brookes kist now slyme
embraced holds: feelds whose youth green and brave
promist long lyfe, now frosts lay in the grave

Say all and I with them: what doth not tyme!
But they who knew tyme, tyme will finde again
I that fayre tymes lost, on tyme call in vaine.

I wrote an article on Robert Sidney and his poetry back in July so please do click here to read it.

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Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester