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Download The New Oxford Book of Seventeenth-Century Verse (Oxford Books of Verse) epub

by Alastair Fowler

The seventeenth century saw some of the great achievements in the English language. Milton wrote Paradise Lost, Donne composed his Metaphysical verse, and Shakespeare his late Romances, not to mention the work of Dryden, Marvell, Jonson, and many others. Now, this remarkable quantity of extraordinary literature has been brought together here in one large volume. Like the previous edition, all of the best known works are present, but this new edition also responds to considerable changes in scholarship and perspective in recent years. Popular and minor poets take a place alongside their more well known peers. Alastair Fowler, the collection's distinguished editor, has included a generous portion of poetry by women, as well as a sampling of American colonial verse, while also striking a balance between Metaphysical and Jonsonian poetry.
Download The New Oxford Book of Seventeenth-Century Verse (Oxford Books of Verse) epub
ISBN: 0192141643
ISBN13: 978-0192141644
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Poetry
Author: Alastair Fowler
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 30, 1992)
Pages: 880 pages
ePUB size: 1944 kb
FB2 size: 1295 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 206
Other Formats: rtf lrf mobi docx

A very good volume, especially for doctoral candidates reading for their exams. You don't receive much context on the authors, but the volume and breadth of poetry is exceptional.
There's lots of excellent poetry from the seventeenth century, and a lot of it has got into this book. But I think the editors could have done a lot better. One expected but still irritating omission is the great dramatic blank verse of the seventeenth century. As a result, pretty much the only blank verse included from that form's Golden Age is its least representative: i.e. that of Milton. Since the editors were willing to include masques, the omission of dramatic verse is really very silly.

Admittedly there were constraints of space, but surely some of the best scenes and speeches from The Duchess of Malfi, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Changeling, Volpone etc. should have been let in. As it is, a poet of Webster's stature is represented by two songs (inexplicably the editors have dropped "Hark, now everything is still") -- one page to 20-odd for William Drummond of Hawthornden. Similarly with Dekker and Ford; Middleton is represented only by one poem, and that of doubtful authorship. Naturally, this leads to a rather skewed picture of early seventeenth century verse.

There are several other odd decisions. Shirley's famous "Death the Leveller" poem ("The glories of our blood and state / Are shadows ...") is omitted, as is Drayton's ode on the history of English poetry. Beaumont's marvellous songs from The Maid's Tragedy (e.g. "Lay a garland on my hearse") are not included. Campion is underrepresented with just four songs -- though that might be to avoid duplication with the sixteenth-century anthology. There are too many selections from Paradise Lost, an understandable temptation but one that should have been resisted. The famous Richard Flecknoe is represented with two poems -- rather mysteriously, since "Mac Flecknoe" is excerpted and Marvell's satire on R.F. left out.

Which brings me to my chief complaint: Dryden is badly mistreated. He gets much less space than Donne, Jonson and Herrick -- less space even than Drayton and Herbert -- and that little space is misused. Mac Flecknoe, easily the most influential poem of the later seventeenth century, is represented by a tiny excerpt. Absalom and Achitophel does only slightly better. Annus Mirabilis is completely unrepresented, although the editors find space for D'Avenant's Gondibert. The plays are of course left out, though three prologues are included. Now, admittedly the prologues are good poetry, but to put them in at the expense of Mac Flecknoe is absurd. Alexander's Feast and the Killigrew Ode are left out, as is The Medal; the previous St. Cecilia ode gets in. Fables Ancient and Modern is represented by "Baucis and Philemon" and a little piece of "Theodore and Honoria". Why these choices? The only evident reason is that they are short. The Medal and the translations from Virgil, Horace, Lucretius and Juvenal are also unrepresented. If the editors weren't too keen on Dryden at least they could have represented him by what are generally considered his best poems.

All those complaints aside, though, this is still a pretty good anthology. Especially for the price.