Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is the only long Elizabethan lyric poem of very highest rank. In that respect he made the Elizabethan age, the greatest lyric period in the history of English literature. The Elizabethan lyrics have the advantage of complete delightful in rapid and direct appeal.
The zest for lyric poetry has introduced at the Court of Wyatt and Surrey in the last two decades of Elizabeth’s reign. It revived not only among the courtiers but also among all classes. Almost every writer of the period who was not purely a man of prose seems to have been gifted with the lyric power.
The qualities which especially distinguish the Elizabethan lyrics are fluency, sweetness, melody, and an enthusiastic joy in life, all spontaneous, direct and delicate. These poems possess a charm different from that of any other lyrics. In subjects they display the usual lyric variety. There are songs of delight Nature, love poems of all moods, many pastorals and some reflective and religious poems. The lyrics were published sometimes in collections by a single author, sometimes in the series of anthologies as Tottel’s Miscellany. Some of these anthologies were books of songs and music, which has brought with all the other cultural influences from Italy and France. Many of these lyrics are included as songs in the dramas of that time such as Shakespeare’s comedies.
Some of the finest of the lyrics are anonymous. Among the best of the known poets are George Gascoigne, a courtier and soldier who bridges the gap between Surrey and Sidney. Sir Edward Dyer about 1545, a scholar and statesman author of one perfect lyric My mind to me a kingdom. Nicholas Breton (about 1545 to 1626) one of the most successful poets of the pastoral style. George Peele, the dramatist. Thomas Lodge poet, novelist, and physician. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) the dramatist and poet. Samuel Daniel scholar, critic, and member in his later years of the royal household of James I.