‘Thou & Ile sing to make these dull Shades merry’: Herrick’s Charon Dialogues

Richard Wistreich

in ‘Lords of Wine and Oile’

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604777
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729355 | DOI:
‘Thou & Ile sing to make these dull Shades merry’: Herrick’s Charon Dialogues

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Literary analysis of Robert Herrick's two Charon dialogues, published in John Playford's Select Musicall Ayres and Dialogues (1652), contextualizes them in the wider European Charon dialogue tradition that draws on a rich set of classical references, including Virgil and Lucian. Appreciation of the parodic ‘Charon and Eucosmia’, an elegy for the prominent royalist, Henry, Lord Hastings, with music by Henry Lawes, depends on familiarity with this otherwise comic genre, epitomized by its partner piece, ‘Charon and Philomel’ (music by William Lawes). Playford's volume anthologizes songs of the pre-Civil-War court, memorializing its particular social ambience and shared frames of literary reference, and may have played a role in post-regicide sustenance of royalist solidarity through social performances, or ‘musickings’.

Keywords: Charon; Lawes; John Playford; Royalist; musicking; Select Musicall Ayres and Dialogues

Chapter.  12590 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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