Seventeenth Century Lyrics from the Original Texts

Seventeenth Century Lyrics from the Original Texts

Seventeenth Century Lyrics from the Original Texts

Seventeenth Century Lyrics from the Original Texts

Excerpt

The plan of illustrating the movement of poetic thought within a period by arranging poems according to the dates at which they became known to the author's public, employed (I believe for the first time) in my Elizabethan Lyrics, is followed in this sequel to it. This makes it possible to trace step by step the series of changes in the development of the lyric, from the last songs of Fletcher to the first of Pope; and to perceive that, great as are the changes, there is nowhere any abrupt break in the poetic tradition-- late Elizabethan, Caroline, Restoration, and Augustan merging imperceptibly into each other in a natural progression. By this means also the student of literature is enabled to see each poem in its original environment, against its historical background of contemporary song; it is at times unexpectedly illuminating to find side by side in the same year, poets like Jonson and Milton, Dekker and Cowley, Waller and Bunyan.

For Seventeenth Century verse the field is very wide. The printed volumes I have examined run into thousands, the MSS. into hundreds. The 565 poems here printed represent the final result of the sifting and re-sifting of a provisional selection of over 3000 made in the course of that examination; and they comprise the work of 214 named poets besides much that is anonymous.

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