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Our text is based on the 1627 printing of George Herbert's Memoriae Matris Sacrum, where it appears after A Sermon of Commemoration of the Lady Danvers by John Donne. We preserve, except where noted here and in the apparatus criticus, the original orthography and diacritical marks found in that edition. The sequence has page numbers (1-17), but the poems are not numbered, nor are the lines. Instead decorative borders separate each poem. Especially elaborate decorative borders are found at the beginning of the sequence (see fig. 1), as well as before the first Greek poem (see figs. 2 and 3), and after the last Greek poem before the final poem of the sequence, which is in Latin. In addition, each poem begins with an enlarged capital letter, which is the size of two lines of the poem. The first letter of the first poem is also ornately decorated.
Beneath the first decorated border appear the words Memoriae Matris Sacrum (hereafter abbreviated as MMS), followed by a period. (For a full discussion on these words see the commentary on the title.) None of the poems has titles, except for the thirteenth Latin poem, where "Epitaphium" is written at the top in a large font, with a capital "E" followed by lower case letters (Hutchinson's edition capitalizes the entire word) and a period. It is not unusual for Herbert to insert periods following titles of sequences and poems, and such periods are common in the Williams manuscript (hereafter abbreviated as W).
Like other editors of MMS (Pickering, Grosart, and Hutchinson), we have chosen to number the poems. Consequently, each poem in our edition is given a title and number: Poem 1 through Poem 19. Also, following Hutchinson, we have given line numbers to the Latin and Greek texts and have attempted to indicate the large capitals that begin each poem. We have also made a number of minor revisions to the text. Since there is no manuscript of MMS to consult for guidance, we have used the W texts of Passio Discerpta and Lucus, the only holographs of Latin poems in Herbert's own hand, to attempt to discern whether a particular error in 1627 was consistent with the manuscripts Herbert wrote or was more likely a compositor's choice. [End Page xi]
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We have found that 1627 is in many ways congruent with Herbert's practices in W. All of our revisions to the text of the Latin poems involve slight problems of spelling, punctuation, or capitalization, or with the use of diacritical marks; we found these same inconsistencies in W, moreover, indicating that 1627 may reflect Herbert's fair copy. In keeping with Herbert's practice in the majority of his Latin poems in W, appositives, imperatives, or vocatives are set apart by commas. We regularize these, therefore, and we also correct what we judge to be probable errors in spelling and punctuation, whether by Herbert or his compositors; we add end-line punctuation to lines where, for a modern reader, the lack of such punctuation makes reading difficult; and finally, we have made corrections in the use of diacritical marks. All changes can be followed in the apparatus; we make none without annotation.
There are no Greek poems included in W to use as a guide. The Greek poems in MMS contain a number of mistakes in Greek accents, iota subscripts, aspirated consonants, and breathing marks, as well as problems of punctuation, and we have made corrections that are comparable to the corrections for the Latin poems.
In addition, we have consulted four modern editions to understand the history of the reception of the text. These include the following:
Works of George Herbert, edited by William Pickering (and J...