Denham, Sir John

Poems and Translations with the Sophy

DENHAM, Sir John (1615-1669). Poems and Translations with the Sophy. London: Printed [by John Macocke] for H. Herringman, 1668. First Edition. First edition of a Spenserian poetic work by Denham, a “father of English poetry” containing the scarce bound in errata leaf. 2 volumes in one, 8vo (163 x 105mm). [4], 186pp., [4]; [4], 97pp, [Epilogue on verso]. Errata leaf [N6] present. Separately titled for “The destruction of Troy” and “The Sophy” (both 1667). Three quarter calf over marbled paper covered boards, spine with red morocco label stamped in gilt “DENHAM POEMS”; (small wormholes affecting some text after C8, worming affecting lower right margin after p. 81, intermittent dampstaining). 17th-century donation inscription on front free endpaper, “This book was [a] noble gift of my honoured tutour Mr. Staynoe to me ye most devoted of his servants, Jer. Oakeley.” And signed again on dedication page in upper margin, “Abel Downs” (?). Very Good. Hardcover.

First Edition of this peculiar production by Denham. Preparation of this volume took some time and Herringman did not register the book by way of the Stationer’s until the early part of 1668. Herringman was apparently working on several others of Denham works, including the On Mr. Abraham Cowley: his death and burial amongst the ancient poets (1667), and Cato Major of Old Age: A poem (1669). The printer’s name “Macocke” comes from a Pforzheimer Catalogue. Denham’s literary career began with the tragedy The Sophy (1641), although he is more often remembered for his descriptive poem Cooper’s Hill, which was a foundational work for English georgic writing style. This 1668 work includes both the Sophy and Cooper’s Hill and an essay on the “Destruction of Troy” from Virgil’s Aeneis. These works reflected the political and social upheavals of the Civil War. Denham was an Anglo-Irish cavalier poet, translator, courtier and gambler. He was also a fierce politician and supporter of Charles I and the Royalist party. Denham’s life experienced many twists and turns, including being exiled to France and spending the remainder of his life in a mental asylum. But during his life he was so critical of his own work that he once pleaded for the life of George Wither because, while Wither lived, he “should not be the worst poet in England.” His degradation of his own work seems to be an opinion that later generations supported. Despite this, Denham was highly influential towards the development of English poetic style, and was later praised by Johnson as the “father of English poetry.” Wing D1005. (#D8762) $1,250.00

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