Some of Donne's earliest works are his verse letters to male friends, poems noted for their remarkable expressions of same-sex desire. This essay proposes that these erotics are, in fact, nearly always mediated by a series of poetic proxies, figures that include female bodies and metrical malfunctions, among others. This essay defines and describes what it calls Donne's "poetics of mediation" by offering a close analysis of several of Donne's homosocial verse letters as well as the less familiar contributions of his friends. It ultimately suggests, however, that Donne's queer formal strategy is deeply bound up with the material conditions of his poetic production and transmission. A consideration of the practicalities of the postal system by which Donne and his friends communicated from afar reveals how these verse letters both reinscribe and disguise their reliance on real intermediaries.


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pp. 73-99
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