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Castalian Band

The name given to the group of poets at the court of James VI, formed by the king himself in 1583. Among its more prominent members were William Fowler, Alexander Montgomerie and John Stewart of Baldynneis. In his lament for Montgomerie, James made fond reference to the Band and to the esteem in which he held it:

What drousie sleep doth syle your eyes allace
Ye sacred brethren of Castalian band
And shall the Prince of Poets in our land
Goe thus to grave unmurned in anie cace?

The Band had its origins in the king's reorganization of his court, following his year's imprisonment by the Scottish nobles after the Raid of Ruthven in 1582. It was his intention to attract to the court musicians and poets, who were encouraged to make translations, experiment with metrical forms and to collaborate in the composition of poetry and songs. The group was to centre on the Apollo figure of the monarch himself, and James's reulis AND CAUTELIS laid the ground rules for the hoped-for literary revival. But all was not harmony and there were splits within the Band itself: Montgomerie was banished on account of his religious beliefs and there were disputes over the compilation of a collection of psalms.  With the removal of the court to London in 1603 the influence of the Castalian Band was effectively at an end.

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