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Verse Miscellanies and the Circulation of a Donne Elegy

Stephanie Hunt


Although there are only a handful of manuscript copies of Milton’s poems extant, there exist a large number of John Donne’s poems — including the elegy in the Rutgers collection. As Stephanie Hunt shows in the essay that follows, this love poem was too scandalously explicit to be printed in 1633, two years after Donne’s death, when most of his poetry first appeared in print. The scribal anthologist who collected the poem set it on the same page as a little sonnet, which also provides insight into the practices and assumptions of contemporary readers. The accompanying poem would not now be anthologized with Donne or included in an anthology of Renaissance verse, as it is more a tavern song than a product of high culture.

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