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An autobiographical ballad by Matthew Prior

H. Bunker Wright and Deborah Kempf Wright


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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