"HOW AM I BLEST IN THUS DISCOVERING THEE? TO ENTER IN THESE BONDS, IS TO BE FREE": IMPORTANT 1669 EDITION OF DONNE'S POEMS, WITH FIRST APPEARANCES OF TWO ELEGIES
DONNE, John. Poems, &c. with Elegies on the Author's Death. To which is Added Divers Copies under His Own Hand, Never before Printed. Savoy [London]: Printed by T.N. for Henry Herringman, 1669. Small octavo, 19th-century full russet morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $9000.
Fifth edition of Donne's poems: the best, most complete and last of the 17th-century editions, with two important elegies by Donne not appearing in any of the previous editions, "Love's Progress," and "To his Mistresse going to bed," handsomely bound by W. Pratt.
Although his poetry was circulated in small bundles of manuscript copies among the cultured circles of Elizabethan and Jacobean society, Donne deliberately kept most of it out of print, fearing to tarnish his reputation in the religious establishment. Therefore, almost none of his poetry appeared in print during his lifetime. "The first editors of Donne's poetry divided his work into about a dozen groupings. The Songs and Sonnets which open the volume are generally amorous in theme; the Divine Poems, which close it, are described in their title… Early scholars took for granted that all the bawdy, cynical and lecherous poems were written by young Jack Donne, while all the somber, penitent, devotional poems were written by the godly divine. The more we learn about the matter, the less this easy division seems to stand up… The poetry of Donne represents a sharp break with that written by his predecessors and most of his contemporaries. Whether he writes of love or devotion, Donne's particular blend of wit and seriousness, of intense feeling, darting thought, and vast erudition, creates a fascination quite beyond the reach of easier styles and less strenuous minds" (Adams). First published in 1633, this fifth edition of the Poems, often erroneously described as the seventh (1650 and 1654 "printings" were actually later issues of the fourth edition), was "based on manuscripts derived from the author's papers and provided the best 17th-century text of Donne's poems" (Adams). With woodcut initials and headpieces. Wing D1871. Keynes 84. Bookplate of book collector Ulbert Parsons Sachs. Neat ink notation about contents.
Only a few spots of foxing to interior, handsome binding with joints expertly repaired. A near-fine copy.