The funeral elegy is in some important ways the quintessential English Renaissance genre. This book demonstrates how it developed into a kind of laboratory in which writers could put theories of composition into practice. The hospitality of elegy to different styles and modes together with itsprimary formal obligation to fit the poem decorously to the subject, gave a special value to ingenuity, to virtuosity. Melodious Tears charts the history of the elegy from the time in the mid-sixteenth century when it was exclusively the province of professional writers, the balladeers andchroniclers, up to the 1630s, by which time the fashion for the vernacular elegy had spread throughout the literate classes. Detailed studies of the works of major elegists, particularly Spenser, Sidney, Donne, and Milton are combined with full examination of the range and variety of elegiesgenerated in response to the deaths of Sidney (1586), Queen Elizabeth I (1603), and Prince Henry (1612). A series of appendices contains texts of a number of elegies which survive only in manuscript.