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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Legitimized by the poetry of the Bible, devotional lyric verse—crossing denominational lines, often combining Reformation spirituality with Renaissance rhetoric—flourished in early modern England. Poets like Mary and Philip Sidney and George Herbert modelled their work on the Book of Psalms, at times imitating the prosodic simplicity of the Sternhold and Hopkins metrical psalms, elsewhere adapting the sophisticated stanzaic variety of the Marot/Beze Psalter. Women like Aemilia Lanyer and Anne Southwell used the Song of Songs to express their devotion to Christ. The ‘mystical marriage’ was often used by women such as Barbara Mackay, who produced a version of the Song of Songs in manuscript, and Elizabeth Melville, who parodied Petrarchan poetry; and it was employed in shocking fashion by John Donne. The religious lyric exists on the borderline of public and private: in conclusion, we present such lyrics as social and occasional, and examine their relationship with music.

Keywords: lyric verse, psalms, Song of Songs, Bible and literature, biblical poetics, music, metrics and music, early modern English literature

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