Poems, by J.D. VVith elegies on the authors deathLondon, printed by M[iles]. F[lesher]. for Iohn Marriot, 1633
FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [xii], 406, [ii]. With ²A² “The printer to the understanders” after ¹A2. 2N1 is a cancel, lacking running title on recto, but with the last 2 lines of text. (see ESTC), complete with blanks A1 and Fff4. Roman letter, some Italic, floriated woodcut initials, engraved armorial bookplate of Sir Richard Newdigate on verso of title-page, Arbury Library label on pastedown, with manuscript shelf marks 371 [deleted], 463 [partly deleted], and 468 on title, morocco label of Jerome Kern, bookplates of Harold Greenhill and H. Bradley Martin on pastedown. Very light age yellowing, first 7 leaves with minuscule marginal wormhole, 2E4 with tiny marginal tear, quire 3c with very light original dampstaining, very rare marginal spot or mark. A fine copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary speckled calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, spine blind ruled in compartments, title label gilt, edges gilt ruled, a.e.r. spine rubbed, joints and corners restored, in brown morocco pull-off case gilt by Mounteney.
First edition, exceptionally rare in a contemporary binding, of the first collected edition of the greatest of all the metaphysical poets and the editio princeps for virtually all of Donne’s poems. A fine fresh copy with the cancelled state of Nn1, the recto set without running head and with thirty-five lines of text, complete with the two leaf “The Printer to the Understanders”. This edition was based on manuscripts derived from the author’s archives and provided the best seventeenth-century text of Donne’s poems, although six further editions appeared by 1669.
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 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 first edition especially important.
“The text of this first edition of Donne’s collected Poems does not appear to have been derived from a single source. Grierson and later editors, .., believe that the original compiler used two sources belonging to the main groups of surviving manuscripts, but made changes, on his own authority and by reference to yet other manuscripts. The resulting text has more authority than any other in print. ..This compiler’s care is reflected in the many changes made while the book was passing through the press. .. I made some attempt to find a method of differentiating earlier from later issues, but it became clear that such ‘states’ were really governed by chance according to the order in which the sheets were taken up for folding before making the book. No importance, therefore can be given to the various combinations in which the corrections are found” Keynes.
A most important first edition, particularly rare in a contemporary binding in a fresh state.
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