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Chapter Abstract

Behn’s poetry corpus consists of 80 works from the long verse translation Voyage to the Isle of Love to the briefest song from the play The Wandering Nymph. It is the smallest of the genre corpora, but it proves to be formative for its representation of love. The poetry is analyzed by genres to provide a sense of Behn’s range, notably a high number of songs but also surprisingly quite a few verse epistles. The Most Frequent Word patterns highlight a language of fullness and hyperbole (all, thousand) and anatomized bodies of eyes, hearts and souls, that speak. Love functions primarily as a noun, frequently Cupid, that has a powerful and enervating effect on bodies. This chapter analyzes the language of the pastoral mode addressed by critics as a signature element of her poetry. Recognized as the premier poet of Love by the end of the seventeenth century, Behn’s reputation seems justified in comparison with a group of contemporary poetry collections by Ephelia, Lord Rochester, Nahum Tate, Anne Killigrew, Edmund Waller and Elizabeth Singer Rowe.

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CH1 csv (541 kB)
Concordance data for poetry.