Poems by J.D. with Elegies on the Authors death.

London, printed by M.F. for John Marriot, 1639.


8vo. pp. (x) 388 (xxxii). Roman letter. Elegant engraved frontispiece portrait of Donne with an earring and holding a sword, in 1591 (at the age of 18) by William Marshall after a lost miniature by Nicholas Hillyard, short epigram by Izaak Walton beneath, woodcut initials. A little soiling to frontispiece and title, frontispiece repaired at inner margin, small creases to corners and a little marginal thumbmarking to a few leaves, small closed tear to V1, just touching text. Otherwise good and clean in contemporary English gilt-stamped morocco, central arabesque on both boards, enclosing the letters ‘B’ and ‘D’ in cartouche on upper and lower covers respectively, surrounded by a roll-tooled frame with corner fleurons, spine gilt, gilt edges, joints a little cracked, a few discreet repairs, surfaces somewhat cracked. Autograph of Katherine Welsteed (‘her booke 1654’) on blank verso of final leaf, William Money’s contemporary autograph to lower blank portions of title, and I. Foster’s (of Wadham College, Oxford) early 18th-century, to upper blank margin of title. Preserved in folding full leather box.

The third edition of Donne’s collected poems, in a handsome contemporary binding. Donne considered having some of his poems printed for private circulation at his own expense during his lifetime. However, this was not to be, and the poems continued to circulate in manuscript form, until their posthumous publication in 1633. The first edition did not include this portrait (“one of the engraver’s best plates”), which appeared in the second in 1635. Its engraver, William Marshall, was a prolific producer of illustrations for books, but almost nothing is known about him.

The poems here collected, from a number of manuscript sources, include a mixture of Holy Sonnets, Epigrams, Elegies, satires and letters to various of Donne’s friends. Donne is the first and most famous of the English metaphysical poets, and his poetry, while sometimes impenetrable to the casual reader, is, by turns, moving, eloquent, charged with a malicious humour, and full of the energy of early love. Donne’s poetry can be broadly divided in two; his earlier poems on the theme of love, and the poems he wrote in his middle years and after, following his entry into the Church, which are more spiritual. Very little of Donne’s work survives in holograph, making the early printed editions especially useful.

STC 7047; Keynes 80; Hind III, p. 111, 30; Pforzheimer I, 297; Lowndes II, 660.


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