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

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A Valediction: of Weeping

  • 1Let me powre forth
  • 2 My teares before thy face, whil'st I stay here,
  • 3  For thy face coines them, and thy stampe they beare,
  • 4  And by this Mintage they are something worth,
  • 5       For thus they bee
  • Critical Apparatus6       Pregnant of thee;
  • 7  Fruits of much griefe they are, emblemes of more,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus8  When a teare falls, that thou falls which it bore,
  • Critical Apparatus9So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.
  • Editor’s Note10        On a round ball
  • 11  A workeman that hath copies by, can lay
  • Editor’s Note12  An Europe, Afrique, and an Asia,
  • 13  And quickly make that, which was nothing, All,
  • 14       So doth each teare,
  • 15       Which thee doth weare,
  • 16  A globe, yea world by that impression grow,
  • Editor’s Note17  Till thy teares mixt with mine doe overflow
  • 18This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolved so.
  • Editor’s Note19       O more then Moone,
  • 20  Draw not up seas to drowne me in thy spheare,
  • Editor’s Note21  Weepe me not dead, in thine armes, but forbeare
  • Critical Apparatus22  To teach the sea, what it may doe too soone;
  • pg 7023       Let not the winde
  • 24      Example finde,
  • Critical Apparatus25  To doe me more harme, then it purposeth;
  • Editor’s Note26  Since thou and I sigh one anothers breath,
  • 27Who e'r sighes most, is cruellest, and hasts the others death.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
A Valediction: of Weeping. A 25 omits. Title from 1633 � omit A TC: A Valediction H 40, C 57, H 49, B: A Valediction of teares Dob, S 96, Cy, S: Valediction 2 of teares O'F.
Critical Apparatus
6 thee;] thee, 1633
Critical Apparatus
8 falls H 40, C 57, H 49, L 74, TC, HK 2, JC, S: falst 1633, Dob, O'F, S 96, Cy, P, B, Gr: see note
Editor’s Note
l. 8. falls. The reading of 1633, 'falst', occurs also in Group III, Cy, O, P, B. I regard it as an obvious correction of what might easily be taken to be a false concord.
'When a tear falls the image of thee that it bore falls with it and is dissolved. In the same way thou and I are dead when parted by the sea between us.'
Critical Apparatus
9 shore.] shore 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 10–13. The workman has copies, not originals, of maps beside him which he pastes onto a round ball to make a 'globe'. Cf. Though the labour of any ordinary Artificer in that Trade, will bring East and West together, (for if a flat Map be but pasted upon a round Globe, the farthest East, and the Farthest West meet, and are all one) … (Donne to Sir Robert Carr, 1624, Tobie Mathew Collection, p. 306).
Editor’s Note
l. 12. Asia. This was pronounced as a trisyllable; cf. Tamburlaine, Pt. 2, 1v. iii. 1:
Holla, ye pampered jades of Asia.
Editor’s Note
ll. 17–18. The lady is now weeping too and her tears, mingling with his, drown the world that her image printed on his tears had created. She is his 'heaven' from which these floods pour down, a heaven dissolved into water.
Editor’s Note
ll. 19–20. As her tears drown the image of her, so his tears will destroy his image. He implores her not to draw tears from him that will drown him as her tears have drowned her. She is 'mor then Moone' because the moon is only mistress of the tides. She can draw seas up into her sphere.
Editor’s Note
l. 21. Speech stress and metrical stress pull against each other here. The line depends on our giving the metrical stress, which as often in Donne falls on the personal pronouns, sufficient weight:
Lines of poetry with graphic scansion
Critical Apparatus
22 soone;] soone, 1633
Critical Apparatus
25 purposeth;] purposeth, 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 26–27. For the idea of the soul in the breath, cf. 'The Expiration' and note (p. 159). We may take it either that the breath of the lovers is commingled as are their tears, or that, since their souls are one, each sighs out the other's soul. For the idea that each sigh costs a drop of blood, see note to 'Sweetest Love, I do not goe' (p. 155).
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