The daring muse of the early Stuart funeral elegy

Author: James Doelman

Based upon a wide reading of funeral elegies of the period 1603 to 1640, this book approaches the genre in a new way, first, by focusing on the dead individual and his or her immediate context, and secondly, by exploring how elegists move far beyond lament, commemoration, and consolation. With a daring unruliness, of both form and matter, these poems use the death as an opportunity for ethical reflection, political comment, and even satire. Under the power of grief, the poems digress into sharp criticism of individuals, the broader culture, centres of power and other institutions, and even the world itself. Each chapter focuses on the funeral elegies prompted by the death of one person or a group of similarly situated figures. The book explores a wide variety of elegies and offers roughly equal attention to print-based poems and those solely manuscript-circulated at the time. In the process, it explores the developing norms of the genre and its relationship to other commemorative forms, including the epitaph, funeral sermon, and funeral monument. It considers how the circumstances of a death challenge poets to adapt the rhetorical resources of the genre to unusual situations: the death of political prisoners or of a much-resented royal favourite, or death by suicide. In particular, the book focuses on the contentious funeral elegies that emerged during the intense political controversies of the 1620s. The study proceeds largely by using the terminology and understanding of genres/norms that were part of these texts themselves or their immediate reception.

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Click the links below to download the appendices in PDF format (see the book prelims for a list of the poems included)

Poems are organized by the date of death of the subject. Multiple poems on the same subject are organized alphabetically by first-line opening. The only exception are closely linked poems (usually by the same author), for example, a verse epistle followed by funeral elegy proper. The elegies are organized chronologically and identified by their first lines.

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