England's Helicon (1614)

Englands Helicon. Or The Muses Harmony … London: Printed for Richard More, and are to be sould at his Shop in S. Dunstanes Church-yard. 1614.


The publication of a second edition of Englands Helicon (1614), fourteen years after the first edition, appears to have been prompted by a revival of pastoral poetry in Jacobean England led by a younger generation of self-styled Spenserian poets. The new motto to this edition, ‘The Court of Kings heare no such straines/As daily lull the Rusticke Swaines’, adopts a stylized ‘anti-court’ tone that echoes the mode of vernacular pastoral satire promoted by this new generation of Spenserian poets. The second edition, as a whole, has strong connections with these new Spenserians. On December 20, 1613, John Flasket, the stationer named on the title page of the 1600 edition, transferred his rights in England’s Helicon to Richard More, who promptly reissued the volume (Rollins, II.70). More removed all of the prefatory material, including the dedication to John Bodenham and Ling’s epistle ‘To the Reader’, and replaced them with a dedicatory poem, signed with his own name, addressed to Lady Elizabeth Cary. Other changes made by More include a new title page, the addition of an index of authors and titles, and the addition of nine new poems. Cary was connected with the Spenserian poets through her tutors, Michael Drayton and John Davies of Hereford. The dedication to Cary suggests that she was chosen as the fit successor to Sidney’s sister, Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, to preside over this revived pastoralism. Cary had recently published her Senecan closet tragedy, The Tragedie of Miriam (1613), which followed in the footsteps of the Countess of Pembroke’s Tragedy of Antonie. The two new poets included in this second edition of Englands Helicon, William Browne and Christopher Brooke, contributed previously unpublished poems, which suggests that they might have been invited by More to contribute to the volume. Browne’s collaborative volume of eclogues, The Shepheards Pipe,which included an eclogue by Brooke, was also published in 1614, and More had published the joint elegies of Brooke and Browne for Prince Henry in the previous year (O’Callaghan, 28-9). It is therefore possible that the collection, with its new paratext, was the product of a collaboration between More, Browne and Brooke (Tylus, 182-3). Alongside the two previously unpublished verses by Browne and Brooke, are seven poems reproduced from Poetical Rhapsody.

Further Reading
L: Harl. 280, fols 99-101. A list of the poems in England’s Helicon, together with their authors, in the hand of Francis Davison, the compiler of Poetical Rhapsody

Michelle O’Callaghan, The Shepheards Nation: Jacobean Spenserians and Early Stuart Political Culture, 1612-25. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.

Hyder E. Rollins, England’s Helicon, 1600, 1614. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1935.

Jane Tylus, ‘Jacobean Poetry and Lyric Disappointmen’, in Elizabeth D. Harvey and Katharine E. Maus eds. Soliciting Interpretation: Literary Theory and Seventeenth-Century Poetry. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990, pp. 174-98.