The Civil War is a poem which Abraham Cowley (1618-67) did
not complete, for political and historical reasons, and of which only the first
volume was published; the other two volumes have been considered irrecoverably lost
since Cowley's death. Professor Pritchard recently found two copies of the
complete poem in a collection of family papers at the Hertfordshire County Record
Office and here presents a corrected edition of the first and previously published
book, and the text of the hitherto unpublished books two and three.
is a major addition to the body of Cowley's poetry; it has close and sometimes
surprising connections with much of his other work. It is not only the most extended
and important of his political poems but a significant addition to the genre of the
political poem. It is also unique as the attempt by a poet of stature to give epic
treatment to the events of the English Civil War.
Professor Pritchard provides
a discussion of the personal, historical, and literary contexts of the poem in the
introduction, as well as of textual problems and methods, showing the way in which
the poem is shaped both by contemporary history and polemics and by classical and
later literary tradition.
About the authors
Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) was an English poet born in the City of London late in 1618. He was one of the leading English poets of the 17th century, with 14 printings of his Works published between 1668 and 1721.
Allan Pritchard is a professor emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Toronto.