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2002 articles 1976 articles

Cowley and 'Orinda' autograph fair copies

Hilton Kelliher


ABRAHAM COWLEY'S elegy 'On the Death of Mr.Crashaw' was his tribute to a fellowpoet with whom he had exchanged verses at Cambridge and whom he had later befriended in exile at Paris where, according to Anthony Wood, he presented the destitute Crashaw to Henrietta Maria. The elegy has generally been recognized as one of Cowley's finest poems: 'In these verses', wrote Johnson, 'there are beauties which common authors may justly think not only above their attainment, but above their ambition.' A calligraphic fair copy by Cowley himself, representing a slightly earlier stage of composition than the text printed in the 'Miscellanies' of 1656, has now come to light among the papers of the Marquess of Ormonde, on loan to the British Museum and then to the British Library (Department of Manuscripts Loan 37/6) since 1950.

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