The century after the Reformation witnessed a profusion of artworks commemorating lost or failed monuments. In different ways, these memorials to memorials sought to register, if not necessarily to repair, a rupture in cultural memory. Early modern memorials to memorials could take the form of paintings, such as Pieter Saenredam’s St. Bavokerk with Fictive Bishop’s Tomb, or of poems recollecting vanished monuments, such as Shakespeare’s sonnets, Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, and Spenser’s Ruines of Time. A clutch of early seventeenth-century poetic memorials to lost tombs and shrines in St. Albans Abbey Church are of interest both as evidence of the local reception of Shakespeare and Drayton and as situated verses that challenge the dichotomy between text and object. Drawing attention to the impermanence of physical monuments, they also acknowledge their own ephemerality, calling into question the capacity of memorials of any kind to carry the burden of remembrance.

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