W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters
- Editor’s Note1That unripe side of earth, that heavy clime
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus2 That gives us man up now, like Adams time
- Editor’s Note3Before he ate; mans shape, that would yet bee
- 4(Knew they not it, and fear'd beasts companie)
- 5So naked at this day, as though man there
- Editor’s Note6From Paradise so great a distance were,
- 7As yet the newes could not arrived bee
- 8Of Adams tasting the forbidden tree;
- Editor’s Note9Depriv'd of that free state which they were in,
- Editor’s Note10And wanting the reward, yet beare the sinne.
- pg 82Critical Apparatus11 But, as from extreme hights who downward looks,
- Editor’s Note12Sees men at childrens shapes, Rivers at brookes,
- Editor’s Note13And loseth younger formes; so, to your eye,
- Editor’s Note14These (Madame) that without your distance lie,
- 15Must either mist, or nothing seeme to be,
- Editor’s Note16Who are at home but wits mere Atomi.
- Critical Apparatus17 But, I who can behold them move, and stay,
- 18Have found my selfe to you, just their midway;
- 19And now must pitty them; for, as they doe
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus20Seeme sick to me, just so must I to you.
- Critical Apparatus21 Yet neither will I vexe your eyes to see
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus22A sighing Ode, nor crosse-arm'd Elegie.
- 23I come not to call pitty from your heart,
- Editor’s Note24Like some white-liver'd dotard that would part
- 25Else from his slipperie soule with a faint groane,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus26And faithfully, (without you smil'd) were gone.
- Editor’s Note27I cannot feele the tempest of a frowne,
- 28I may be rais'd by love, but not throwne down.
- 29Though I can pittie those sigh twice a day,
- Critical Apparatus30I hate that thing whispers it selfe away.
- Critical Apparatus31Yet since all love is fever, who to trees
- Critical Apparatus32Doth talke, doth yet in loves cold ague freeze.
- 33'Tis love, but, with such fatall weaknesse made,
- 34That it destroyes it selfe with its owne shade.
- Critical Apparatus35Who first look'd sad, griev'd, pin'd, and shew'd his paine,
- Critical Apparatus36Was he that first taught women, to disdaine.
- 37 As all things were one nothing, dull and weake,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus38Untill this raw disorder'd heape did breake,
- 39And severall desires led parts away,
- Editor’s Note40Water declin'd with earth, the ayre did stay,
- Critical Apparatus41Fire rose, and each from other but unty'd,
- 42Themselves unprison'd were and purify'd:
- 43So was love, first in vast confusion hid,
- pg 8344An unripe willingnesse which nothing did,
- 45A thirst, an Appetite which had no ease,
- 46That found a want, but knew not what would please.
- Critical Apparatus47What pretty innocence in those days mov'd!
- Critical Apparatus48Man ignorantly walk'd by her he lov'd;
- 49Both sigh'd and enterchang'd a speaking eye,
- Critical Apparatus50Both trembled and were sick, both knew not why.
- 51That naturall fearefulnesse that struck man dumbe,
- Critical Apparatus52Might well (those times consider'd) man become.
- Critical Apparatus53As all discoverers whose first assay
- 54Findes but the place, after, the nearest way:
- Editor’s Note55So passion is to womans love, about,
- 56Nay, farther off, than when we first set out.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus57It is not love that sueth, or doth contend;
- 58Love either conquers, or but meets a friend.
- Editor’s Note59Man's better part consists of purer fire,
- 60And findes it selfe allow'd, ere it desire.
- 61Love is wise here, keepes home, gives reason sway,
- Editor’s Note62And journeys not till it finde summer-way.
- Editor’s Note63A weather-beaten Lover but once knowne,
- 64Is sport for every girle to practise on.
- Critical Apparatus65Who strives, through womans scornes, women to know,
- 66Is lost, and seekes his shadow to outgoe;
- Critical Apparatus67It must bee sicknesse, after one disdaine,
- 68Though he be call'd aloud, to looke againe.
- Critical Apparatus69Let others sigh, and grieve; one cunning sleight
- Critical Apparatus70Shall freeze my love to Christall in a night.
- 71I can love first, and (if I winne) love still;
- 72And cannot be remov'd, unlesse she will.
- 73It is her fault if I unsure remaine,
- Critical Apparatus74Shee onely can untie, and binde againe.
- 75The honesties of love with ease I doe,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus76But am no porter for a tedious woo.
- pg 84Critical Apparatus77 But (madame) I now thinke on you; and here
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus78Where we are at our hights, you but appeare,
- Critical Apparatus79We are but clouds you rise from, our noone-ray
- 80But a foule shadow, not your breake of day.
- Critical Apparatus81You are at first hand all that's faire and right,
- 82And others good reflects bu backe your light.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus83You are a perfectnesse, so curious hit,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus84That youngest flatteries doe scandall it.
- Editor’s Note85For, what is more doth what you are restraine,
- Critical Apparatus86And though beyond, is downe the hill againe.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus87We have no next way to you, we crosse to'it:
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus88You are the straight line, thing prais'd, attribute;
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus89Each good in you's a light; so many'a shade
- 90You make, and in them are your motions made.
- Critical Apparatus91These are your pictures to the life. From farre
- Editor’s Note92We see you move, and here your Zani's are:
- 93So that no fountaine good there is, doth grow
- Editor’s Note94In you, but our dimme actions faintly shew.
- 95 Then finde I, if mans noblest part be love,
- Editor’s Note96Your purest luster must that shadow move.
- Editor’s Note97The soule with body, is a heaven combin'd
- 98With earth, and for mans ease, but nearer joyn'd.
- Editor’s Note99Where thoughts the starres of soule we understand,
- 100We guesse not their large natures, but command.
- Editor’s Note101And love in you, that bountie is of light,
- Critical Apparatus102That gives to all, and yet hath infinite;
- 103Whose heat doth force us thither to intend,
- 104But soule we finde too earthly to ascend,
- Critical Apparatus105'Till slow accesse hath made it wholy pure,
- 106Able immortall clearnesse to endure.
- Critical Apparatus107Who dare aspire this journey with a staine,
- Critical Apparatus108Hath waight will force him headlong backe againe.
- pg 85Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus109No more can impure man retaine and move
- Critical Apparatus110In that pure region of a worthy love
- Editor’s Note111Then earthly substance can unforc'd aspire,
- Editor’s Note112And leave his nature to converse with fire:
- Critical Apparatus113Such may have eye, and hand; may sigh, may speak;
- Critical Apparatus114But like swoln bubles, when they'are high'st they break.
- Critical Apparatus115 Though far removed Northerne fleets scarce finde
- Critical Apparatus116The Sunnes comfort; others thinke him too kinde.
- 117There is an equall distance from her eye,
- 118Men perish too farre off, and burne too nigh.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus119But as ayre takes the Sunne-beames equall bright
- Critical Apparatus120From the first Rayes, to his last opposite:
- Critical Apparatus121So able men, blest with a vertuous Love,
- 122Remote or neare, or howsoe'r they move;
- Critical Apparatus123Their vertue breakes all clouds that might annoy,
- 124There is no Emptinesse, but all is Joy.
- Critical Apparatus125He much profanes whom violent heats doe move
- Critical Apparatus126To stile his wandring rage of passion, Love:
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus127Love that imparts in every thing delight,
- Critical Apparatus128Is fain'd, which onely tempts mans appetite.
- Editor’s Note129Why love among the vertues is not knowne
- Critical Apparatus130Is, that love is them all contract in one.
To the Countesse of Huntington. Text from 1635. MSS.: TCD(2), P. Paragraphing supplemented. Title from 1635: Sr Walter Aston to the Countesse of Huntington. TCD: Sr Wal. Ashton to … P.
l. 1. heavy: humid, tropical.
2 man] men P
l. 2. like Adams time. In A Treatise of Brazil we read of the Indians that 'All of them goe naked as well men as women, and have no kind of apparrell, and are nothing ashamed', etc. (Purchas his Pilgrims, edition of 1906, xvi. 422). Cf. Gen. ii. 25.
l. 3. Before he ate: i.e. of the fruit of the Forbidden Tree.
ll. 3–6. mans shape, etc. 'Creatures in the shape of man, who would still be (if they did not know their nakedness and shun the company of animals) as naked to this day as though they were so far from Paradise', etc.
The aborigines are distinguished from Paradisal Man by knowing they are naked and by being afraid of the animals; whereas it was only after the Fall that Adam knew that he was naked (Gen. iii. 7) and felt fear of the beasts, which had hitherto been friendly to man.
l. 6. Paradise: Eden.
l. 9. If there could have been those in 'mans shape' who had not heard of the Fall, their state of apparent freedom from sin would be illusory, since in Adam they 'beare the sinne'.
l. 10. wanting the reward. Not having heard of Christ, they lack redemption ('the reward'), and know nothing of it. 'This people hath not any knowledge of their Creator, nor of any thing of heaven … but they know that they have soules, and that they dye not' (A Treatise of Brazil, in Purchas his Pilgrims, 1906, xvi. 419).
11 downward] downewards P: inward TCD
l. 12. at: as, as occupying the position or status of.
l. 13. younger: smaller (before they have 'grown' older and hence bigger, whether children or brooks).
ll. 14–18. People unacquainted with the Countess are in their ordinary lives ('at home') mere atoms in size, measured by their 'wit' or abilities; so that when she sees them from her elevation they look like mist or nothing at all. The poet, having risen half-way to the Countess's level by her friendship and patronage, is still able to see these lesser folk as discrete tiny beings in motion or at rest ('move and stay').
l. 16. Atomi: the usual plural, from atomus or atomos.
17 who] that MSS.
20 you.] you, 1635
l. 20. sick: hence 'wasted', 'diminished'.
must I to you. A transition is made to the idea of the love-'sick' swain suing for the pity of a remote ('distant') mistress.
21 neither] never TCD
22 nor] or MSS.
l. 22. crosse-arm'd. Folded arms were the conventional sign of the sorrow of a lover or mourner, of discontent and melancholy: see L. Babb, The Elizabethan Malady, 1951, pp. 76 ff., 156 ff. The Lothian portrait shows Donne in this posture of the pining lover; cf. Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. 267–8.
l. 24. white-liver'd. The four humours tended to dominate in the body each at a different stage: blood in youth, then choler, then melancholy, and, in old age, phlegm (hence white hair, watery eyes, and a liver lacking a proper degree of blood).
26 faithfully] finially P you smil'd] your smile MSS.
l. 26. faithfully: still the faithful lover.
l. 27. tempest of a frowne. Anger in the microcosm corresponded to a storm in the macrocosm. Cf. Zepheria, 1594, Canzon. 27:
- Neare from the deepe, when winds declare a tempest,
- Posts with more haste the little Halcion,
- Nor faster hyes him to some safer rest,
- Then I have fled from thy death-threatening frown.
30 whispers] whispered P: vapours TCD
31 love is] love's a P
32 ague] Feaver P
35 paine,] paine. 1635
36 women] woman TCD
38 disorder'd] disordered 1635
l. 38. heape: Chaos.
ll. 40–42. Water declin'd with earth, etc. This is the conventional account of the Creation. For ancient sources cf. W. C. Curry, 'The Genesis of Milton's World', Anglia (Zeitschrift, etc.), lxx, 1951. Paracelsus (Hermetic and Alchemical Writings, translated by A. E. Waite, ii. 256) writes that 'the four elements of things were in the beginning severally separated from one single matter, in which, however, their complexion and essence were not present—those complexions and natures emerged by that process of separation. The warm and dry withdrew to the heavens and the firmament. … The warm and moist withdrew to the air' … etc. (also p. 253). Cf. Sylvester, Bartas his Divine Weeks and Works, the Second day of the first Week (1605, p. 41):
- Earth, as the Lees, and heavie drosse of All,
- After his kind did to the bottome fall:
- Contrariwise, the Light and nimble Fire
- Did through the crannies of th'old Heape aspire
- Unto the top …
41 but] once P
47 mov'd I] mov'd? 1635
48 by] wth P
50 both] but MSS.
52 consider'd] considered 1635
53–54 whose … Findes ] who … find P
l. 55. about: too circuitous a way.
57 sueth, or] sues and P
l. 57. sueth, or doth contend. The metaphors are of 'love's war'.
l. 59. better part: i.e. than passion; 'reason'.
l. 62. summer-way: free passage, as for a ship with the thawing of ice in northern seas.
l. 63. weather-beaten. Continuing the image of a voyage of discovery, Donne refers to the conventional lover as 'buffeted' by the lady's disdain ('scornes', l. 65).
65 strives,] strives 1635
womans] womens P
scornes, women] scorne woman TCD
67 sicknesse,] sickness 1635
69 sigh MSS.: sinne 1635
70 love] Love 1635
74 and P: I 1635, TCD
76 woo TCD: wooe P: woe 1635
l. 76. porter: at the gate of a mansion (as the lover pining for entry to his mistress's favour).
77 I now] now I TCD
78 hights] height TCD
ll. 78–80. When we are at our highest point of brilliance you are merely just appearing above the horizon; we are only the clouds you rise from; our noon-beams are like a foul shadow, not even equivalent to your dawn.
79 clouds … from, ] clouds, … from 1635
noone-ray] noone-ray, 1635
81 right] bright P
83 a perfectnesse] all perfectnes TCD: all perfections P
l. 83. so curious hit: so exquisitely and accurately attained.
84 youngest] the quaintest TCD
flatteries] flatterers MSS.
l. 84. Even small and delicate flatteries are so inadequate to express your perfection as to be like a scandal or blot on your character.
ll. 85–86. 'What is beyond the truth concerning you, no less than what falls short of it, misses and limits what you are, and in going beyond, instead of staying at the summit of truth, goes down, as it were, on the other side' (Grolier).
86 though] whats P
87 to'it] to it 1635
l. 87. 'There is no direct, short way to you; we have to go cross country.'
88 attribute;] attribute, 1635
l. 88. straight line, thing prais'd, attribute. The thing praised is virtue; but she is virtue (the 'attribute' in question); its symbol is a straight line (rectitude), and she is that too.
89 many'a] many a 1635
ll. 89–92. Each good quality in the Countess throws a light, and as she lives and moves in these lights each throws a shadow which accurately delineates her; there are many such 'shadows' or pictures of her, for each virtue shows up a new facet of her character. Her distant admirers see her moving in the light of these virtues and imitate her.
91 These] Those TCD
l. 94. shew: appear.
l. 96. Love is the 'shade' (l. 89) corresponding to the purest light in which she walks; it exemplifies her highest virtue.
ll. 97–98. A familiar part of the theory of man as microcosm. The soul is, however, more intimately associated with the body (for man's greater convenience and welfare) than the heaven with the earth.
ll. 99–100. 'If nevertheless we understand the thoughts in our souls to be like stars in the heavens, then, as with the stars, we do not comprehend their full meaning, their entire nature, but we recognize and admit their authority.' As the stars influence ('command') us, so do our thoughts, though we do not fully understand the concepts, such as 'virtue', by which we live. So with 'love' (l.101), as it streams inexhaustibly from the Countess.
ll. 101–6. Love in the Countess is like the sun, that bountiful source of light, shining on all, but inexhaustible. As the sun causes vapour to rise towards it so the Countess's love attracts our souls, which we find, however, to be too clogged with earthly dross to rise to that height, till slow approach to this perfection of love gradually purifies the soul completely, and makes it able to endure the sight of the deathless purity of her love.
102 infinite;] infinite. 1635
105 wholy] holy MSS.
107 dare] dares MSS.
108 waight] weights MSS.
109 impure] unpure P
l. 109. retaine: keep himself.
110 love] love: 1635
l. 111. unforc'd: 'unrefined'; a technical term in alchemy. Cf. 'To the Lady Bedford', l. 37.
l. 112. converse: keep company with (O.E.D. 2); 'mingle'.
113 eye, and hand] eyes and hands MSS.
114 they'are] they are 1635
high'st they] highest MSS.
break.] break 1635
115 Paragraph at 113 in 1635
Though far removed] Through far remotenesse P
fleets] Iles TCD
116 comfort;] comfort* 1635
119 ayre … the ] ye aire … all P
l. 119. ayre takes the Sunne-beames equall bright. Cf. Kepler, Ad Vitellionem Paralipomena, 1604, p. 22: 'Cum Sol aerem undique aequaliter collustret'.
120 first Rayes] rayes first TCD; rise first P
121 men P: man 1635, TCD
123 Their P: There 1635, TCD
125 violent MSS.: valiant 1635
126 Love:] Love. 1635
127 imparts] imports TCD
l. 127. Love that imparts: i.e. 'Love which, when it is genuine, imparts'.
128 Is fain'd, which onely tempts mans appetite P (no comma): Is thought the Mansion of sweet appetite TCD: Is fancied (rest of line blank) 1635
130 Is, that] Is; 'cause TCD contract in P: contracted 1635, TCD