Anthology of Commendatory Verse From the English Renaissance

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Commendatory poems are a type of praise-poetry, written by one author to accompany the work of another. The poems were printed in the same volume as the work they commend, to which the author refers to as the subject work. The majority of English Renaissance commendatory verse-which forms the majority of all such verse-has been out of print since its original publication.


“I commend this volume of collected commendatory verse, found in English Renaissance dramatic and poetic texts. This compilation serves as the perfect companion to Wayne Chandler's astute Commendatory Verse and Authorship in the English Renaissance (2003). Now one can see for oneself the range, scope, persistence, and omnipresence of commendatory verse, a genre that has largely disappeared but one obviously practiced with great determination and occasional skill by Renaissance writers. I do not overstate by saying that Chandler offers here a treasure-hoard of material, ripe for exploration and analysis by scholars of various stripes, from literary critics to cultural historians to those concerned with the construction of published books. More often than not such material does not appear in modem editions of these works, editors having decided, unwisely, to suppress these verses that seem peripheral and possibly uninteresting. But any reading through the pages of this volume will readily dispel such misguided ideas … Wayne Chandler has thus not only collected this priceless material, but also he has framed the issues for scholars to investigate. And in this volume he provides a ready way through which to confront this material. He thereby renders pointless our occasional complaint that this material is inaccessible and hard to come by. One can begin to peruse these commendatory verses and start to see their potential. We need now only exercise sufficient will to pursue the possibilities. Chandler has skillfully charted the course by his own painstaking work. To him all scholars owe a great debt, as our knowledge of Renaissance literary writing will be enriched, expanded, and enlivened.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. David M. Bergeron, Professor of English, University of Kansas

“This work fills an important gap in early modem scholarship by bringing together 246 commendatory poems printed between 1573 and 1640. Many of these poems are unavailable in modem editions, and the ones that are available are generally found collected by author. Here, instead, they are collected and printed together with other poems written to commend particular works. The advantage of this is first of all that it "unedits" (Leah Marcus's term) these poems and restores them to a place closer to their original context-that is, in company with other poems commending a particular volume. This means that readers will be able to read a given author's commendation alongside other poets' commendations of the same work, and in several cases will be able to read a range of styles of opinion on a given work. Moreover, readers can recover here a segment of Renaissance literary response that was very widespread-nearly 5,000 poems before 1640-but is very little studied now … As the editor of this anthology, Wayne Chandler, has shown in his recent book, Commendatory Verse and Authorship in the English Renaissance, commendatory poetry is a very important but little-known sub-genre of Renaissance lyric, one that taps into Tudor-Stuart literary circles, discussion of aesthetic values, and the world of print authorship. This anthology allows us a varied yet approachable entree into those elements of Renaissance literary culture.” – Dr. A. E. B. Coldiron, Louisiana State University

Table of Contents

Section One: Poems From Dramatic Sources
Section Two: Poems From Non-Dramatic Sources
Appendix A: Poems Listed by Number, Author, and Subject Work
Appendix B: Renaissance Drama Printed with Commendatory Verse
Appendix C: Commendatory Poems by Ben Jonson

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