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2002 articles 1992 articles

An autobiographical ballad by Matthew Prior

H. Bunker Wright and Deborah Kempf Wright

Abstract

IN the most recent edition of Prior's works, the editors asserted their confidence that, while Prior was a parliamentary prisoner, he composed a poem reflecting some of the circumstances of his confinement and his first acquaintance with Elizabeth Cox, the mistress of his later years. However, the only vestige of such a poem known to the editors was a set of nine untitled stanzas that Joseph Moser had contributed to The European Magazifie in 1803. Since Moser explained that the poem had come to him through its recitation by a relative who had learned it from Prior when she was a child, and since he confessed that he could 'only recollect a few verses..., and those perhaps not quite correct', the editors were obliged to relegate this fragment to a place among 'works of doubtful authenticity'.

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