Campion's lyrics are the fruits of the two Golden ages of Elizabethan art: the musical and the poetic. His ayres wind together or unravel mixed emotions and ethical paradoxes in a striking array of voices from the ardent, stoical or lecherous, to the vengeful, disillusioned or quirky. Daniel refined the language for tangled emotional states, most famously in his sonnet sequence Delia. His poetry shows him shrinking from ambition and beset by self-doubt, while wrestling with historical and moral concerns. Ralegh cut a figure as flamboyant and melodramatic as Daniel's was reluctant. His world was duplicitous and dangerous, and his poetry took the form of a sophisticated game of political and emotional courtship with his female ruler.
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Thomas Campion (1567-1620) was a doctor by profession and is considered one of the world's great song-writers. Samuel Daniel (1562-1619) wrote sonnets, epistles, masques and dramas, as well as the prose essay, A Defence of Ryme. Walter Ralegh (c.1554-1618) was by turns poet, historian, soldier, explorer, amateur scientist and member of parliament. Ronald Levao is Professor of English at Princeton University and author of 'Renaissance Minds and Their Fictions: Cusanus, Sidney, Shakespeare'.
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