Barnabe Googe

Biography of Barnabe Googe

Barnabe Googe or Gooche (1540 - 1594) (also spelled Barnaby Googe) was an English poet and translator, one of the earliest English pastoral poets.

Barnabe Googe was born on June 11, 1540, in London or Kent, the son of Robert Googe, recorder of Lincoln.

He studied at the strongly Reformist Christ's College, Cambridge, and was long thought to have also studied at New College, Oxford, although this appears uncertain. Afterwards, he moved to Staple's Inn, where his cousin, William Lovelace, held the position of Reader. Around this time, he started to write poetry, and found himself in an exciting creative coterie with other young writers, such as Jasper Heywood and George Turberville. Earlier authorities claim that he became a gentleman pensioner to Queen Elizabeth, in effect, a member of her bodyguard, but this has been disproved. Nonetheless, Googe did have close associations with the court, since he was related to William Cecil. Googe exploited this important connection persistently in the years that followed, and Cecil extended considerable patronage towards his young protegé. It may have been due to Cecil's encouragement that Googe accompanied the Elizabethan humanist scholar Sir Thomas Challoner on a diplomatic embassy to Spain in 1562.

Googe's poems are written in the Plain or Native Style, which preceded and subsequently competed with the more famous Petrarchan style. Petrarchan love poetry (much of the work of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Sir Philip Sydney, Thomas Campion...) was decorative, highly metaphorical and often exaggerated; it also involved a more fluid mastery of iambic English poetry than that of the more primitive and alliterative Native Style: Googe's tonic accents are heavy, the unaccents light; the result is more or less, and sometimes deliberately, blunt and plodding. The poems of George Turberville, Saint Thomas More, George Gascoyne and Walter Ralegh are examples of a similar style.

But the Plain Style dealt with serious subjects in a serious way: its goal was not ornamental beauty, but truth. Googe's poem Of Money ("Give money me, take friendship whoso list / For friends are gone come once adversity...") is a well-known example of the tradition.

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Of Money

Give money me, take friendship whoso list,
For friends are gone, come once adversity,
When money yet remaineth safe in chest,
That quickly can thee bring from misery;
Fair face show friends when riches do abound;
Come time of proof, farewell, they must away;
Believe me well, they are not to be found
If God but send thee once a lowering day.
Gold never starts aside, but in distress,