Helen Gardner (ed.), John Donne: The Elegies and The Songs and Sonnets

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pg 44Loves Usury

  • 1For every houre that thou wilt spare mee now,
  • 2   I will allow,
  • 3Usurious God of Love, twenty to thee,
  • 4When with my browne, my gray haires equall bee;
  • Critical Apparatus5Till then, Love, let my body raigne, and let
  • Critical Apparatus6Mee travell, sojourne, snatch, plot, have, forget,
  • Editor’s Note7Resume my last yeares relict: thinke that yet
  • 8      We'had never met.
  • 17This bargaine's good; if when I'am old, I bee
  • 18      Inflam'd by thee,
  • 19If thine owne honour, or my shame, or paine,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus20Thou covet, most at that age thou shalt gaine.
  • 21Doe thy will then, then subject and degree,
  • Critical Apparatus22And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee,
  • 23Spare mee till then, I'll beare it, though she bee
  • 24      One that loves mee.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
Loves Usury. TC, A 25, JC omit. Title from 1633
Critical Apparatus
5 raigne] range Dob, O'F, S 96
Critical Apparatus
6 snatch] match Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
ll. 7–8. 'Take up with a woman abandoned last year as if we had never met before.'
Editor’s Note
ll.9–11. He wants to anticipate his rival's midnight assignation by turning up at nine. The rival's letter may be a letter from or to the rival.
at next nine: at the following nine o'clock, that is, as soon as possible after getting hold of the letter.
Editor’s Note
l. 11. mistake. There is an obvious equivoque here: he will 'take' the maid 'for' (and instead of) the mistress.
Critical Apparatus
12 Lady'of] Lady of 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 12. tell the Lady. Ovid is less impudent. Cf. Amores, II. vii and viii, where he defends himself against Corinna's charge that he has slept with Cypassis her maid, and in the next poem cajoles and threatens the girl to obtain a continuance of her favours.
Critical Apparatus
13 sport;] sport 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 13. no, not the sport. The plea is that he may be carefree in his pleasures, no more the slave of lust than of love.
Editor’s Note
ll. 14–16.
  • From country grasse, to comfitures of Court,
  • Or cities quelque choses,
Cf. 'Community', l. 22: 'Chang'd loves are but chang'd sorts of meat.' The country girl, the court lady, and the city madam are dismissed as raw pasture, preserved sweetmeats, and dressed-up trifles. 'Quelque choses', in its more usual form 'kickshaws' is first recorded in O.E.D. in 1598 (Florio) and I597(?) (2 Henry IV). The term is contemptuous, for fancy foreign dishes as opposed to substantial English ones, and is used here as a hit at the affectation of rich citizens' wives.
Critical Apparatus
15 let] let not Dob, O'F, S 96
Editor’s Note
l. 15. report: mere rumour (of a possible intrigue).
Critical Apparatus
20 covet, most] covet most, 1633; see note
Editor’s Note
l. 20. Thou covet, most at that age thou shalt gaine. This is the punctuation of H 40, Group I, L 74, Lut, O'F, and B. (Dob, S 96, and S put a stop after 'age'.) The pointing of 1633 ('Thou covet most,…'), which Grierson retained, has no manuscript support. The sense required is that whether Love covets honour, shame, or pain he will gain most of what he covets from an old man.
Critical Apparatus
22 fruit] fruits C 57, H 49, Dob, O'F, S 96, B
Love,] Love 1633
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