“ To Penshurst” was first published in the "Epigrammes" and "Forrest" sections of Jonson's Workes in 1616, almost five years after his contemporary Lanyer published Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum which finished with “ The Description of Cooke-ham” . Both collections consisted of poems dedicated to patrons. “ To Penshurst” was written for Robert Sidney, Lord Lisle and his wife, Barbara Sidney, who were an established part of the nobility and were living in the house since the 1550s, and tactfully presents a dedication to them through a projection of nature into the persona of lord and the lady of the country house.
It would also be pertinent to mention here that Jonson had well-documented aspirations of belonging to and becoming one of the nobility and did whatever possible towards this end, this poem was one of such efforts to please his high-born patrons through a positive association with nature. “ The Description of Cooke-ham” , on the other hand, centers around Margaret Clifford, Countess of Cumberland, Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset and later to be Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery in the background of Cooke-ham which their temporary refuge for a while where Aemilia accompanied them.
In the poem, nature appears to celebrate Anne Clifford and mourns her loss when she is married off. Lanyer wrote this poem when she was forty, at a time when her situation was not half as secure as Johnson, which could have very well have shaped the subversion she shows in the Cooke-ham poem, in her depiction of the relationship between human and nature. “ It is really impossible to emphasize strongly enough how marginal, how unusual her position was Renaissance England--as a Jew, converted or not, as an Italian, as the wife of a Catholic, as a woman artist making a living as a fringe member of the court” .Now that we have established the background for the two poems and their authors it would perhaps be prudent to examine the poetic convention they were using.
The pastoral tradition was much used in Jonson's poem.
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