In November 2018, the Guardian reported that a 400 year old manuscript volume containing several poems by John Donne had been recently discovered at Melford Hall in Suffolk, England. In addition to the Donne poems, the volume contained "extra poems by different authors added by new owners over time, including a series of six poems that are otherwise unrecorded."

Is a list of these extra poems available? And have the six otherwise unrecorded poems been published anywhere? What other information is known about the additional poems, these six in particular?

1 Answer 1


The Melford Hall Manuscript was acquired by the British Library after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport placeed an export bar on the work in a bid to save the manuscript for the nation. It is now freely available online in digitised form.

A summary of the contents reveals:

Alongside the poetry of Donne, the volume also features verse by other contemporary writers such as Francis Beaumont (1584–1616), Thomas Carew (1595–1640) and Sir Thomas Overbury (1581–1613). It also intriguingly contains a series of six currently unknown and unattributed seventeenth-century poems.

which accords with the Guardian's report. Looking at the contents in detail gives the descriptions of the poems as:

  • Unattributed poem. Copy titled ‘A Paradox’, beginning ‘Who so tearmes Love a fiere, may like a poet’.ff. 46v.-47r.

  • Unattributed poem. ‘In his play’, beginning ‘Part a triangle with a down right line’.ff. 136r.-136v.

  • Unattributed poem. Copy untitled, beginning ‘Eyes doe not perswade me to beleeve’. f. 137r.

  • Unattributed poem. Copy titled ‘Upon the advantages of nature and a solitary life’, beginning ‘I wish to have some little it of ground’.ff. 143r.-143v.

  • Unattributed poem. Copy titled ‘Upon ye vanity of Love’, beginning ‘Strange it may seem’.f. 143v.

  • Unattributed poem. Copy titled 'A song of his mistress’, beginning ‘The powers above have me refus’d’.ff. 144r.-188r.


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