As the twelve original essays collected in this volume demonstrate, to study the wit of seventeenth-century poetry is necessarily to address concerns at the very heart of the period's shifting literary culture. It is a topic that raises persistent questions of thematics and authorial intent, even as it interrogates a wide spectrum of cultural practices. These essays by some of the most renowned scholars in seventeenth-century studies illuminate important authors and engage issues of politics and religion, of secular and sacred love, of literary theory and poetic technique, of gender relations and historical consciousness, of literary history and social change, as well as larger concerns of literary production and smaller ones of local effects. Collectively, they illustrate the vitality of the topic, both in its own right and as a means of understanding the complexity and range of seventeenth-century English poetry.
Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth are both William E. Stirton Professors in the Humanities and Professors of English at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Among works they have edited are Renaissance Discourses of Desire, On the Celebrated and Neglected Poems of Andrew Marvell, "The Muses Common-Weale": Poetry and Politics in the Seventeenth Century, and "Bright Shootes of Everlastingnesse": The Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric.