Continuing the brilliant tradition of California Romantic Poetry whose luminaries include Ambrose Bierce, George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, the poet-author Donald Sidney-Fryer (b. 1934) also stands in the long shadow of that other Courtly Poet, Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599), author of the Elizabethan epic romance The Faerie Queene.
Sidney-Fryer’s major contribution in the poetic vein is his series of Songs and Sonnets Atlantean (first series, 1971; second series, 2003; third series, 2005), collected as The Atlantis Fragments (2008). The series utilizes the myth of Atlantis as a springboard for both art and artifice. The original poetry as well as prose is presented under the multiform guise of translations from Atlantean poets such as Prince Atlantarion and from the Renaissance French of Michel de Labretagne -- supplemented, in the first series, with introduction and notes by premier Atlantologist Dr. Ibid Andor (1895-1990).
S. T. Joshi has called Donald Sidney-Fryer "an assured master of many poetic forms. . . especially the alexandrine" who has "a vibrant, exotic imagination that vivifies realms of fantasy into living realities." Brian Stableford praised the collective Songs and Sonnets Atlantean, calling it "a brilliant achievement."
In addition to his original works, Sidney-Fryer has translated important works of French poetry and poems-in-prose by Baudelaire, José-Maria de Heredia and Aloysius Bertrand. His translation of Bertrand's forgotten classic Gaspard de la Nuit was published by Black Coat Press in 2004.
In the realm of scholarship, Sidney-Fryer's bio-bibliography of Clark Ashton Smith, Emperor of Dreams (1976), forms the cornerstone of Smith studies. His earlier, seminal essay on Smith's life and work, "The Sorcerer Departs", has been revised and reissued, and his critical essay on Smith's "The Hashish Eater" provides important insights into this magnum opus of fantastic verse.
Donald Sidney-Fryer's public performances of works by Spenser, Baudelaire, Sterling and Smith along with his own poetry (sometimes with self-accompaniment on lute), are intended both to pay homage to his masters and to practice the ancient craft of enchauntment. In this he amply succeeds -- and also demonstrates to the enchanted audience the value of his own crystalline verse.
This website presents a bio-chronology, bibliography, webography, photos and other material relating to The Last of the Courtly Poets.