Greville and the Feminine Ending
Fulke Greville is well known as the author of philosophical treatises in verse, but what does it mean to be a philosophical poet? This chapter considers the idea of philosophical poetry in Greville, not by assessing philosophical ideas in his poetry, but by understanding how poetry for him is a specific and creative way of doing philosophy. To do this, the chapter considers the unusual metrical device of the ‘feminine ending’, usually defined as a line with a hypermetric extra foot. Sidney theorizes about this as well as practising it, and several Elizabethan poets, including Shakespeare as well as Greville, specialize in it. The chapter concludes by discussing how the ‘feminine ending’ is associated especially with expressing mental doubt, qualification, or scepticism.
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