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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VIII. The New English Poetry

§ 20. A Handefull of pleasant delites

The next miscellany, which is the last book to be mentioned here, was A Handefull of pleasant delites, by Clement Robinson and others, of which the only copy known, that in the British Museum, was published, in 1584, by Richard Jones, a publisher of ballads. The Stationers’ register, however, shows that, in 1566, a licence was issued to Clement Robinson for “a boke of very pleasaunte Sonettes and storyes in myter.” The 1584 volume, therefore, has been thought to be a later edition of the book of 1566, into which were incorporated poems written since that date. It may be noted that every poem in the Handefull has its tune assigned it by name. This practice was not unknown in earlier anthologies—in the Gorgious Gallery, for instance. In the Handefull, it is consistently followed. The tunes assigned are, sometimes, those of well known dances, “the new Rogero,” the “Quarter Brailes,” the “Black Almaine”; or of popular ballads, such as “Greensleeves.” Of the influence of music on the lyrical poetry of the age more will be said in a later chapter. So far as the Handefull is concerned, though by no means free from doggerel, its contents have often an honest life and spirit about them, which are welcome after the resuscitated, ghostly air of the Gorgious Gallery. Still, the book belongs, by subject and treatment, to the poetrical age which was closing. Twenty-five of the poems are anonymous, and, among them, those of the editor, Clement Robinson. The named contributors are Leon Gibson, the author of a lively Tantara; G. Mannington, whose Sorrowful sonet made at Cambridge Castle is parodied at length in Chapman, Marston and Jonson’s Eastward Hoe (1603); R. Picks; Thomas Richardson; and I. Thomson—the last of whom contributes a New Sonet of Pyramus and Thisbie, which it is hard to believe Shakespeare had not seen. He certainly had seen the song on flowers, which contains the line: “Rosemarie is for remembrance, betweene us daie and night.”