London, South Kensington
22 November 2002
[ANON. 17th-CENTURY]. Manuscript in three late 17th-century hands, '[The Contents of] Phyllis', a poem, in 8-line stanzas, comprising:
'Phyllis pairt 1 Of Lyffe & age' and 'pairt second of fortune & vertue'
a development or variation of the same, entitled 'The Contents of Phillis' in three parts, comprising (i) Age and life, (ii) Vertue and Fortune, (iii) Death and Resurrection (imperfect, ending after 22 stanzas of part (iii), lacking part (iv) Hymns and Prayers)
'Supplement to Phyllis', comprising additional stanzas for insertion;
altogether 116 leaves, 8vo; three original gatherings bound as a single volume; later boards.
A long poem combining metaphysical meditation with the traditions of aristocratic flirtation within a pastoral scene. The two main drafts begin with similar first quatrains, before diverging:
'When Pyllis solemnly inquir'd
What yeers of age was I
Hir self-diffusing worth inspyr'd
my mynd to make replie ...'.
Phyllis was a fashionable name in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries; an unrelated note bound in at the end of the manuscript bears the date 1686. In an age when verses were copied out and circulated, these may be contemporary copies rather than original manuscripts.
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