The anniversary poem

Graham Roebuck

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The anniversary poem

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



One of Donne's compositions the Anniversary Poem is the focus of this article. The literary record of the life and death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury might have been a very dull affair, soon forgotten by all but members of her family. Dead shortly before her fifteenth birthday, unknown to the world for any notable action or attribute, her passing might have been lamented in the conventional terms of pastoral elegy. Instead, her poetic monument, made public in print, instantly, by its extravagant strangeness shook the literary firmament, readers, patrons, and poets. Elizabeth had been buried on 17 December 1610; the first edition of An Anatomy of the World appeared in 1611. This title provides a broad suggestion of its generic affiliations: literary ‘anatomies’, usually in prose, were by no means uncommon in those times. Yet ‘anatomy’ as a renaissance ‘metaphorical label’ is ‘vague, formally, by comparison with the classical genre terms’.

Keywords: poem; Elizabeth Drury; classical genre; pastoral elegy; Anniversary Poem

Article.  5889 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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