W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Epithalamions, Anniversaries and Epicedes

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Critical ApparatusEpithalamion at the Marriage of the Earl of Somerset

Ecclogue1613. December 26.

  • Allophanes finding Idios in the country in Christmas time, reprehends
  •   his absence from courts, at the mariage of the Earle of Sommerset, Idios
  •   gives an account of his purpose therein, and of his absence thence.
  • Allophanes.

  • 1Unseasonable man, statue of ice,
  • Critical Apparatus2         What could to countries solitude entice
  • 3pg 11Thee, in this yeares cold and decrepit time?
  • 4Natures instinct drawes to the warmer clime
  • Editor’s Note5Even small birds, who by that courage dare,
  • 6In numerous fleets, saile through their Sea, the aire.
  • 7What delicacie can in fields appeare,
  • Editor’s Note8Whil'st Flora'herselfe doth a freeze jerkin weare?
  • 9Whil'st windes do all the trees and hedges strip
  • 10Of leafes, to furnish roddes enough to whip
  • 11Thy madnesse from thee; and all springs by frost
  • Critical Apparatus12Have taken cold, and their sweet murmure lost;
  • 13If thou thy faults or fortunes would'st lament
  • Editor’s Note14With just solemnity, do it in Lent;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus15At Court the spring already'advanced is,
  • 16The Sunne stayes longer up; and yet not his
  • Critical Apparatus17The glory is, farre other, other fires:
  • 18First, zeale to Prince and State; then loves desires
  • 19Burne in one brest, and like heavens two great lights,
  • 20The first doth governe dayes, the other nights.
  • Editor’s Note21And then that early light, which did appeare
  • Critical Apparatus22Before the Sunne and Moone created were,
  • 23The Princes favour is defus'd o'r all,
  • Editor’s Note24From which all Fortunes, Names, and Natures fall;
  • Editor’s Note25Then from those wombes of starres, the Brides bright eyes,
  • 26At every glance, a constellation flyes,
  • Editor’s Note27And sowes the Court with starres, and doth prevent
  • 28In light and power, the all-ey'd firmament;
  • Critical Apparatus29First her eyes kindle other Ladies eyes,
  • Critical Apparatus30Then from their beames, their jewels lusters rise,
  • 31And from their jewels, torches do take fire,
  • 32And all is warmth, and light, and good desire;
  • 33Most other Courts, alas, are like to hell,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus34Where in darke plotts, fire without light doth dwell:
  • 35Or but like Stoves, for lust and envy get
  • Editor’s Note36Continuall, but artificiall heat;
  • pg 12Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus37Here zeale and love growne one, all clouds disgest,
  • 38And make our Court an everlasting East.
  • 39And can'st thou be from thence?

Idios. No, I am there.

Editor’s Note40As heaven, to men dispos'd, is every where,

41So are those Courts, whose Princes animate,

Critical Apparatus42Not onely all their house, but all their State.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus43Let no man thinke, because he'is full, he'hath all,

Editor’s Note44Kings (as their patterne, God) are liberall

Critical Apparatus45Not onely'in fulnesse, but capacitie,

46Enlarging narrow men, to feele and see,

47And comprehend the blessings they bestow.

Editor’s Note48So, reclus'd hermits often times do know

49More of heavens glory, then a wordling can.

Editor’s Note50As man is of the world, the heart of man,

51Is an epitome of Gods great booke

52Of creatures, and man need no farther looke;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus53So is the Country'of Courts, where sweet peace doth,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus54As their one common soule, give life to both;

Critical Apparatus55I am not then from Court.

Allophanes. Dreamer, thou art.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus56Think'st thou, fantastique, that thou hast a part

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus57In the East-Indian fleet, because thou hast

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus58A little spice, or amber in thy taste?

59Because thou art not frozen, art thou warme?

60Seest thou all good because thou seest no harme?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus61The earth doth in her inward bowels hold

62Stuffe well dispos'd, and which would faine be gold,

63But never shall, except it chance to lye,

Editor’s Note64So upward, that heaven gild it with his eye;

65As, for divine things, faith comes from above,

Editor’s Note66So, for best civill use, all tinctures move

67From higher powers; From God religion springs,

pg 1368Wisdome, and honour from the use of Kings.

Editor’s Note69Then unbeguile thy selfe, and know with mee,

70That Angels, though on earth employd they bee,

71Are still in heav'n, so is hee still at home

Editor’s Note72That doth, abroad, to honest actions come.

73Chide thy selfe then, O foole, which yesterday

74Might'st have read more then all thy books bewray;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus75Hast thou a history, which doth present

Editor’s Note76A Court, where all affections do assent

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus77Unto the Kings, and that, that Kings are just?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus78And where it is no levity to trust?

79Where there is no ambition, but to'obey,

80Where men need whisper nothing, and yet may;

81Where the Kings favours are so plac'd, that all

82Finde that the King therein is liberall

Editor’s Note83To them, in him, because his favours bend

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus84To vertue, to the which they all pretend?

Editor’s Note85Thou hast no such; yet here was this, and more,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus86An earnest lover, wise then, and before.

Editor’s Note87Our little Cupid hath sued Livery,

88And is no more in his minority,

89Hee is admitted now into that brest

Critical Apparatus90Where the Kings Counsells and his secrets rest.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus91What hast thou lost, O ignorant man?

Idios. I knew

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus92All this, and onely therefore I withdrew.

93To know and feele all this, and not to have

94Words to expresse it, makes a man a grave

95Of his owne thoughts; I would not therefore stay

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus96At a great feast, having no Grace to say.

Editor’s Note97And yet I scap'd not here; for being come

Critical Apparatus98Full of the common joy, I utter'd some;

99Reade then this nuptiall song, which was not made

pg 14100Either the Court or mens hearts to invade,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus101But since I'am dead, and buried, I could frame

102No Epitaph, which might advance my fame

103So much as this poore song, which testifies

104I did unto that day some sacrifice.


IThe time of the Mariage.

  • Critical Apparatus105Thou art repriv'd, old yeare, thou shalt not die,
  • 106     Though thou upon thy death bed lye,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus107     And should'st within five dayes expire,
  • 108   Yet thou art rescu'd by a mightier fire,
  • 109           Then thy old Soule, the Sunne,
  • Editor’s Note110   When he doth in his largest circle runne.
  • Editor’s Note111   The passage of the West or East would thaw,
  • 112   And open wide their easie liquid jawe
  • Editor’s Note113   To all our ships, could a Promethean art
  • 114   Either unto the Northerne Pole impart
  • 115The fire of these inflaming eyes, or of this loving heart.

IIEquality of persons.

  • 116But undiscerning Muse, which heart, which eyes,
  • 117       In this new couple, dost thou prize,
  • 118       When his eye as inflaming is
  • 119As hers, and her heart loves as well as his?
  • Critical Apparatus120        Be try'd by beauty,'and than
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus121The bridegroome is a maid, and not a man.
  • 122If by that manly courage they be try'd,
  • pg 15Editor’s Note123    Which scornes unjust opinion; then the bride
  • 124    Becomes a man. Should chance or envies Art
  • 125    Divide these two, whom nature scarce did part?
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus126Since both have both th'enflaming eyes, and both the loving heart.

IIIRaysing of the Bridegroome.

  • Editor’s Note127   Though it be some divorce to thinke of you
  • Critical Apparatus128         Singly, so much one are you two,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus129         Yet let me here contemplate thee,
  • 130   First, cheerfull Bridegroome, and first let mee see,
  • Editor’s Note131         How thou prevent'st the Sunne,
  • 132   And his red foming horses dost outrunne,
  • Editor’s Note133   How, having laid downe in thy Soveraignes brest
  • Editor’s Note134   All businesses, from thence to reinvest
  • Editor’s Note135   Them, when these triumphs cease, thou forward art
  • Editor’s Note136   To shew to her, who doth the like impart,
  • 137The fire of thy inflaming eyes, and of thy loving heart.

IVRaising of the Bride.

  • 138   But now, to Thee, faire Bride, it is some wrong,
  • 139         To thinke thou wert in Bed so long,
  • Critical Apparatus140         Since soone thou lyest downe first, tis fit
  • Critical Apparatus141   Thou in first rising should'st allow for it.
  • Editor’s Note142           Pouder thy Radiant haire,
  • 143   Which if without such ashes thou would'st weare,
  • Critical Apparatus144   Thou, which, to all which come to looke upon,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus145   Art meant for Phoebus, would'st be Phaëton.
  • 146   For our ease, give thine eyes, th'unusuall part
  • Editor’s Note147   Of joy, a Teare; so quencht, thou maist impart,
  • Critical Apparatus148To us that come, thy'inflaming eyes, to him, thy loving heart.

pg 16 VHer Apparrelling.

  • Editor’s Note149   Thus thou descend'st to our infirmitie,
  • Editor’s Note150        Who can the Sun in water see.
  • 151        Soe dost thou, when in silke and gold,
  • 152   Thou cloudst thy selfe; since wee which doe behold,
  • 153          Are dust, and wormes, 'tis just
  • Editor’s Note154   Our objects be the fruits of wormes and dust;
  • 155   Let every Jewell be a glorious starre,
  • Editor’s Note156   Yet starres are not so pure, as their spheares are.
  • Editor’s Note157   And though thou stoope, to'appeare to us, in part,
  • 158   Still in that Picture thou intirely art,
  • 159Which thy inflaming eyes have made within his loving heart.

VIGoing to the Chappell.

  • Editor’s Note160   Now from your Easts you issue forth, and wee,
  • 161        As men which through a Cipres see
  • Editor’s Note162        The rising sun, doe thinke it two,
  • 163   Soe, as you goe to Church, doe thinke of you,
  • 164          But that vaile being gone,
  • 165   By the Church rites you are from thenceforth one.
  • Editor’s Note166   The Church Triumphant made this match before,
  • Critical Apparatus167   And now the Militant doth strive no more;
  • 168   Then, reverend Priest, who Gods Recorder art,
  • 169   Doe, from his Dictates, to these two impart
  • Critical Apparatus170All blessings, which are seene, or thought, by Angels eye or heart.

pg 17 VIIThe Benediction.

  • Editor’s Note171   Blest payre of Swans, Oh may you interbring
  • Editor’s Note172         Daily new joyes, and never sing,
  • Editor’s Note173         Live, till all grounds of wishes faile,
  • 174   Till honor, yea till wisedome grow so stale,
  • 175            That, new great heights to trie,
  • 176   It must serve your ambition, to die;
  • Editor’s Note177   Raise heires, and may here, to the worlds end, live
  • Critical Apparatus178   Heires from this King, to take thankes, you, to give,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus179   Nature and grace doe all, and nothing Art;
  • Editor’s Note180   May never age, or error overthwart
  • Editor’s Note181With any West, these radiant eyes, with any North, this heart.

VIIIFeasts and Revells.

  • Editor’s Note182   But you are over-blest. Plenty this day
  • Critical Apparatus183          Injures; it causes time to stay;
  • 184          The tables groane, as though this feast
  • 185   Would, as the flood, destroy all fowle and beast.
  • Editor’s Note186            And were the doctrine new
  • 187   That the earth mov'd, this day would make it true;
  • Critical Apparatus188   For every part to dance and revell goes;
  • 189    They tread the ayre, and fal not where they rose.
  • Editor’s Note190    Though six houres since, the Sunne to bed did part,
  • Editor’s Note191    The masks and banquets will not yet impart
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus192A sunset to these weary eyes, a Center to this heart.

pg 18 IXThe Brides going to bed.

  • 193    What mean'st thou Bride, this companie to keep?
  • 194         To sit up, till thou faine wouldst sleep?
  • Critical Apparatus195         Thou maist not, when thou'art laid, doe so.
  • 196    Thy selfe must to him a new banquet grow,
  • 197            And you must entertaine
  • 198    And doe all this daies dances o'r againe.
  • 199    Know that if Sun and Moone together doe
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus200    Rise in one point, they doe not set so too.
  • 201    Therefore thou maist, faire Bride, to bed depart,
  • Critical Apparatus202    Thou art not gone, being gone; where e'r thou art,
  • 203Thou leav'st in him thy watchfull eyes, in him thy loving heart.

XThe Bridegroomes comming.

  • Editor’s Note204    As he that sees a starre fall, runs apace,
  • 205      And findes a gellie in the place,
  • 206          So doth the Bridegroome hast as much,
  • Critical Apparatus207    Being told this starre is faine, and findes her such.
  • 208            And as friends may looke strange,
  • 209    By a new fashion, or apparrells change,
  • 210    Their soules, though long acquainted they had beene,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus211    These clothes, their bodies, never yet had seene;
  • 212    Therefore at first shee modestly might start,
  • 213    But must forthwith surrender every part,
  • Critical Apparatus214As freely,'as each to each before, gave either eye or heart.

pg 19 XIThe good-night.

  • Editor’s Note215   Now, as in Tullias tombe, one lampe burnt cleare,
  • 216     Unchang'd for fifteene hundred yeare,
  • 217     May these love-lamps we here enshrine,
  • Critical Apparatus218   In warmth, light, lasting, equall the divine.
  • Editor’s Note219           Fire ever doth aspire,
  • 220   And makes all like it selfe, turnes all to fire,
  • 221   But ends in ashes, which these cannot doe,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus222   For none of them is fuell, but fire too;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus223   This is joyes bonfire, then, where loves strong Arts
  • 224   Make of so noble individuall parts
  • 225One fire of foure inflaming eyes, and of two loving hearts.
Critical Apparatus226

Idios. As I have brought this song, that I may doe

227A perfect sacrifice, I'll burne it too.

Critical Apparatus228

Allophanes. No, Sir. This paper I have justly got,

229For, in burnt incense, the perfume is not

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus230His only that presents it, but of all;

231What ever celebrates this Festivall

232Is common, since the joy thereof is so.

233Nor may your selfe be Priest: But let me goe,

234Backe to the Court, and I will lay'it upon

Editor’s Note235Such Altars, as prize your devotion.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
Epithalamion etc. MSS.: C 57, H 49; TC (TCD with TCC); Dob, O'F. Covering title supplied, adapted from TC
Eccloguethence. . 1633, C 57: … thys Christmas reprehends … from the Court … Actions there. H 49: Eclogue Induceing an Epithalamion at the Marriage of the E: of S: Allophanes … that Christmas, reprehends … at that marriage; Idios … actions there. TC: Eclogue. Allophanes … this Christmas, reprehends … and his Actions there. Dob: … in the Christmas, reprehends … Actions (corr. by scribe from Absence) there. O'F
ecclogue] ecclogve 1633 corrected
mariage of] mariage Of 1633
Critical Apparatus
2 countries] Countrey TC
Editor’s Note
l. 5. that courage: 'Natures instinct'.
Editor’s Note
l. 8. freeze: frieze, a coarse woollen cloth, with a pun on 'freeze'.
Critical Apparatus
12 murmure Σ‎: murmures 1633, C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 14. in Lent: not in this Christmas season.
Critical Apparatus
15 already'advanced] already advanced 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 15–19. I have punctuated so as to bring out the sense. It is not the sun that brings spring to the Court, but Somerset's loyal zeal and his love for his bride, both springing from the 'light' of the Prince's favour.
Critical Apparatus
17 fires:] fires. 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 21–2. that early light, etc. God created light first ('early') and the sun and moon on the fourth day (Gen. i. 3, 14–19). See note (p. 139) on The First Anniversary, l. 202.
Critical Apparatus
22 were,] were; 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 24. Natures. James I now appears as a sort of Creator; his 'creation' of noblemen bestows on them (by 'favour') more elevated 'natures', as well as names (in the peerage) and wealth. 'God made light first, that his other works might appear' (Sermons, ii. 240).
Editor’s Note
ll. 25–9. Cf. l. 31 of the preceding poem, and note.
Editor’s Note
l. 27. prevent: exceed (O.E.D. v. 3. b). The bride's eyes assume some of the Creator's power in producing the firmament of fixed stars.
Critical Apparatus
29 kindle Σ‎: kindles 1633, C 57
Critical Apparatus
30–1 beames, … jewels, torches ] beames … jewels torches 1633
Critical Apparatus
34. plotts Σ‎: places 1633, C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 34. plotts: a 'plot' is a piece of ground, 'area' (as in 'The Progress of the Soul', l. 129), hence a 'place' (cf. the reading of 1633); but also, a 'conspiracy'.
fire without light. This property of hell, well known from Paradise Lost, i. 63 ('No light, but rather darkness visible'), is mentioned by Donne in a passage quoted by Grierson: 'Fool, saies Christ, this night they will fetch away thy soul; … he hath no light but lightnings, a sodain flash of horror first, and then he goes into fire without light … this dark fire' (Sermons, ii. 239–40).
Editor’s Note
l. 36. artificiall: by contrast to the warmth of loyal gratitude engendered by the natural 'light' of the King's favour.
heat. Cf. 'Obsequies to the Lord Harington', l. 125.
Critical Apparatus
39 there.] there 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 37. disgest: part, disperse.
Editor’s Note
l. 40. dispos'd: open, or receptive in attitude, to spiritual truth. Cf. The Second Anniversary, l. 154, and note, p. 160.
Critical Apparatus
42 State.] State, 1633
Critical Apparatus
43 he'is … he'hath] he is … he hath 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 43. full: amply supplied with all he needs.
Editor’s Note
ll. 44–9. The 'correspondence' between the King in the State and God in the universe emerges in l. 22, and is further developed from l. 40. The argument is that God can enlarge the capacities of men to understand their blessings and know more of His glory as their blessings increase. Idios is able to share in festivities at Court, though absent from it, because the King has a similar power to enlarge his understanding of what it is like to be there.
Editor’s Note
l. 44. patterne. God provides a 'paradigm' or analogy of the King's status, and a 'model' for the exercise of kingly power. Cf. Sermons, iv. 240–1, viii. 115–17.
Critical Apparatus
45 onely'in] onely in 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 48. reclus'd. This is the earliest example of the use of this word given in O.E.D.., but Donne had already used it in 'To the Countess of Bedford' ('You have refin'd mee'), l. 17.
Editor’s Note
ll. 50–2. Man, the microcosm, is an epitome of the universe (the macrocosm); his heart is an epitome of God's book of creatures. Cf. 'O man, which art said to be the Epilogue, and compendium of all this world, and the Hymen and Matrimoniall knot of Eternal and Mortall things, whom one [Pico della Mirandola] says to be all Creatures' (Simpson, Essays, p. 30). Cf. 'Obsequies to the Lord Harington', l. 110. For the Book of Creatures see W. Schleiner, The Imagery of John Donne's Sermons (Providence, 1970), pp. 94–103.
Critical Apparatus
53 Country'of] Country of 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 53. So is the Country'of Courts. The country is an epitome of Courts.
sweet peace. A reference to James I's peace-making foreign policy. Cf. 'Elegy on Prince Henry', ll. 32–8.
Critical Apparatus
54 one] owne C 57, TC, Dob, O'F (b.c.)
both;] both, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 54. one common soule. Peace is in the soul of the King which 'animates' all his 'State' (ll. 41–2), country and Court alike.
Critical Apparatus
55 art.] art, 1633
Critical Apparatus
56 thou, fantastique,] thou fantastique 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 56. fantastique: one given to fancies or wild notions (O.E.D. B 1).
Critical Apparatus
57 East-Indian H 49, Dob: East Indian C 57, TC: East India O'F: Indian 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 57. East-Indian. The word 'East' is dropped from 1633, but the MSS. are obviously right. Spices came from the East Indies, precious metals from the West.
Critical Apparatus
58 amber] Amber 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 58. amber in thy taste. 'Amber' is ambergris, used in cooking for its scent and flavour. Grierson cites Paradise Regained, ii. 344, 'Grisamber-steamed'; and Beaumont and Fletcher, The Custom of the Country, iii. 2 (Works, ed. A. Glover (1905), i. 334): 'Be sure / The wines be lusty, … / And amber'd all.' O.E.D. (sb. 1) notes that William Harrison, in his Description of England, speaks of the 'induing' of fruits with 'the savour of muske, ambre …'.
Critical Apparatus
61 inward MSS.: inner 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 61–4. All metals were thought to strive and to alter towards the perfection of gold, provided that their elements were suitably arranged, and they were sufficiently near the surface of the earth to feel the influence of the sun. See note, p. 179, on 'Elegy on the Lady Markham', ll. 23–5, and cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 583–6, 606–12, vi. 478–81.
Editor’s Note
l. 64. heaven gild it with his eye: (a) the rays of the sun ('eye of heaven' in 'The Progress of the Soul', l. 11) change it to gold; (b) the King raises 'well dispos'd' subjects, near enough to the Court, to nobility.
Editor’s Note
l. 66. tinctures: purifying and ennobling forces. The 'tincture' was a spiritual quality in a substance, specifically in gold; through mortification and regeneration, or 'ripening', gold could be refined into a tincture, which had the power to change other metals to itself.
Editor’s Note
l. 69. unbeguile: undeceive.
Editor’s Note
l. 72. abroad: away from home. to honest actions come: act honestly; and (if 'honest' is taken to mean 'honourable') rise to a place of honour in the performance of state duties.
Critical Apparatus
75 present] represent TC
Editor’s Note
l. 75. history: history book.
Editor’s Note
l. 76. affections: desires, feelings, motives. Contrast 'disaffected'.
Critical Apparatus
77 that, that 1633, C 57, H 49, TCD: that the TCC, Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 77. and that, that Kings are just: 'shows that the affections of that King are just', i.e. justly directed upon those he chooses as his confidants (ll. 89–90).
Critical Apparatus
78 trust?] trust. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 78. no levity to trust: neither frivolous nor foolish to trust others.
Editor’s Note
l. 83. in him: in anyone he favours; for example, Somerset. All share in the favour shown to any particular person, since the favours that he, in his turn, can then bestow are directed to virtue to which they all aspire.
Critical Apparatus
84 pretend?] pretend. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 84. pretend: lay claim, make pretension, aspire.
Editor’s Note
l. 85. Thou hast no such, etc. 'You have no history book that describes such a Court; yet here all the time was a Court like this; and even more, it contained an earnest lover', etc.
Critical Apparatus
86 before.] before, 1633 uncorrected
Editor’s Note
l. 86. earnest lover: a lover in earnest, a true lover. wise then, and before: wise in love (where many men are foolish), and before he became a lover. The wisdom that earned him the King's confidence is shown equally in his love and marriage. The compliment reverses the proverb (Tilley, L 558) used by Herrick in 'To Silvia to Wed': 'No man at one time can be wise and love'. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia 476 e: 'Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur'; and, 'sapere et amare, to be wise and to love, which perchance never met before nor since, are met in this text' (Sermons, i. 238).
Editor’s Note
l. 87. sued Livery. 'Land held by feudal tenure lapsed to the lord at the death of a tenant, until it was ascertained if the heir was of age; if so he took possession at once, on payment of a year's profits, known as primer seisin; if not, the estate remained in the lord's hands, as his guardian, until he became so, when he could claim livery, or delivery, of wardship, by suing for a writ of ouster le main and paying half a year's profits' (Chambers). In Donne's day this law applied specifically to tenants of the King (see J. Cowell, The Interpreter, 1607, s.v. 'Liverie', SS 3r).
Cupid is no longer a minor but a grown man, and can now enter and take possession of the heart of a statesman. Love claims its rightful and lasting place in Somerset's breast, which had hitherto held only the confidences of the King.
Critical Apparatus
90 Counsells] Counsayle TC
Critical Apparatus
91 knew] knew, 1633 uncorrected
Editor’s Note
l. 91. lost: by being absent from such a Court.
Critical Apparatus
92 onely therefore] therefore only TC
withdrew.] withdrew 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 92. therefore: for this reason.
Critical Apparatus
96 Grace] grace 1633 uncorrected
say.] say, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 96. no Grace to say: no thanks to utter.
Editor’s Note
l.97. I scap'd not. Cf. 'I think I shall not scape', in the letter quoted in the introductory note above.
Critical Apparatus
98 joy, … some;] joy; … some, 1633
Critical Apparatus
101–2 buried, … fame] buried … fame, 1633 uncorrected
After 104 Epithalamion Σ‎: omit 1633, TC
Editor’s Note
l. 101. dead, and buried: the social condition of those in the country away from the Court.
Epithalamion. I have added this title from the Group I MSS.; it was presumably in the printer's copy, and was omitted, probably by accident.
Critical Apparatus
105 repriv'd,] repriv'd 1633
Critical Apparatus
107 expire,] expire 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 107. five dayes: referring to the date of the marriage, 26 December.
Editor’s Note
l. 110. largest circle: at the summer solstice, when the sun appears to be at the highest point of its supposed orbit.
Editor’s Note
l. 111. The passage of the West or East: the North-West passage for ships round the north of the American continent, and the presumed passage to the north of Russia to the East Indies.
Editor’s Note
l. 113. Promethean. Prometheus stole fire from Olympus and gave it to man.
After l. 115. Equality of Persons. Rochester was raised to the Earldom of Somerset just before the marriage, so that he would be equal in rank to his bride.
Critical Apparatus
120 try'd … beauty,'and] tryed … beauty and 1633
Critical Apparatus
121–2 man. … try'd] man, … tryed 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 121. maid: i.e. if judged for his beauty. The word could, however, hardly fail to recall the fact that the plea for the Countess's divorce from the Earl of Essex was that she forcedly remained a virgin. She was married with her hair hanging 'untrimmed' in curls to her waist—the mark of a virgin bride.
Editor’s Note
l. 123. scornes unjust opinion. The marriage caused considerable scandal, which Donne ascribes to envy (l. 124).
Critical Apparatus
126 have both Σ‎: have 1633, C 57
eyes H 49, TC, Dob, O'F (b.c.): eye 1633, C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 126. both th'enflaming eyes. This is the reading of all MSS. except C 57, Lec, and presumably the printer's Group I manuscript. That the omission of 'both' is an error is shown by the fact that though the metre is disturbed, the contraction mark is retained. The singular 'eye' in C 37, Lec, and 1633, to match 'heart', indicates that the meaning was misunderstood. Donne has spoken of the Bride's 'inflaming eyes' in l. 115, and now identifies the lovers completely, so that 'both the eyes of both are lit with the same flame, both their hearts kindled at the same fire' (Grierson); their hearts are one. Cf. ll. 223–5.
Editor’s Note
l. 127. divorce. In the circumstances, a rather daring use of the word.
Critical Apparatus
128 Singly Σ‎: Single 1633, C 57
Critical Apparatus
129 Yet let O'F: Let 1633, Σ‎; see note
Editor’s Note
l. 129. Yet let. Though most MSS. omit 'Yet', its presence in Lut, O'F, and the copy (A 23) in Goodyer's hand suggests that the word is not a sophistication. As Grierson says, 'Yet' improves both the sense and the metre. Its similarity to 'let' could lead to the dropping of 'Yet' independently by different scribes.
Editor’s Note
l. 131. prevent'st: anticipatest. Rising before sunrise on the wedding-day seems to have been customary; cf. the preceding epithalamion, l. 29.
Editor’s Note
l. 133. 'Having confided to the care of the King.'
Editor’s Note
ll. 134–5. reinvest Them: reclothe yourself in them (as in clothes 'laid downe'); i.e. take up your responsibilities again.
Editor’s Note
l. 135. forward: eager (O.E.D., adj. 6).
Editor’s Note
l. 136. doth the like impart: kindles a similar fire in you.
Critical Apparatus
140 soone] Soone 1633
Critical Apparatus
141 it.] it, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 142. Pouder. Powdering the hair had only recently become fashionable; brides usually powdered their hair for their wedding-day. Professor A. J. Smith (John DonneThe Complete English Poems, 1971) cites Webster, The White Devil, v. iii. 117–18: 'Her hair is sprinkled with arras powder, / That makes her look as if she had sinned in the pastry.'
Critical Apparatus
144 all which] all that Dob, O'F
Critical Apparatus
145 Art TCC, Dob: Are 1633, C 57, H 49, TCD: Wert O'F
for … Phaëton.] for, … Phaëton, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 145. meant for Phoebus, would'st be Phaëton. She is meant to play the part of the sun, but without some subduing of the radiance of her hair she would scorch those who looked on her: Phaeton, son of Phoebus (Helios) the sun-god, was allowed to drive the chariot of the sun for one day, but drove so recklessly that he scorched the earth and nearly set it on fire.
Editor’s Note
l. 147. so quencht: the fire in your eyes thus quenched.
Critical Apparatus
148 thy'inflaming] thy inflaming 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 149. Thus: by the powder in her hair (l. 142) and more especially by the tear of joy.
our infirmitie: in not being able to look straight at the sun without being blinded.
Editor’s Note
l. 150. Who can the Sun in water see: we who can look at the sun reflected in water (as at the bride's eyes 'in' her tears). In The Republic 514 ff., Plato suggests that a 'prisoner' taken from the cave eventually, after being able to see reflections in the water, 'would be able to look at the sun and observe its nature, not its appearances in water or on alien material, but the very sun itself in its own place' (trans. A. D. Lindsay). Dryden borrows Donne's image in Eleanora, 11. 135–9:
  • For how can Mortal Eyes sustain Immortal Light
  • But as the Sun in Water we can bear,
  • Yet not the Sun, but his Reflection there,
  • So let us view her here, in what she was;
  • And take her Image, in this watry Glass.
Editor’s Note
l. 154. fruits of wormes and dust: silk and gold (l. 151).
Editor’s Note
l. 156. not so pure, as their spheares. Plotinus speaks of 'the peculiar excellence of the body constituting the stars, a material so pure, so entirely the noblest' (Enneads, 11. 1. 4). Though usually thought to be of the same substance, the spheres in which the stars were fixed, and in which they rotated, were purer (less 'mixed') in composition, the crystalline sphere especially so. 'We take a Star to be the thickest, and so the impurest, and ignoblest part of that sphear; and yet, by the illustration of the Sun, it becomes a glorious star' (Sermons, iv. 83).
Editor’s Note
l. 157. stoope: might condescend.
Editor’s Note
ll. 157–9. Though she deigns to show herself to us in a way accommodated to our limited perceptions, her full glory is conveyed through her eyes to form the image of her imprinted on Somerset's heart. Cf. the Elegy, 'His Picture', l. 2.
Editor’s Note
l. 160. Easts. Somerset and his bride are both suns, and each rises in his or her proper quarter to meet at the church.
Editor’s Note
ll. 162–5. 'Cipres' can mean crepe cloth; or the tree, whose foliage can also be thought of as a veil (l. 164). I have not found any reference to this optical illusion in writers on optics or elsewhere. In Biathanatos, p. 154, Donne refers to Pliny's account (Nat. Hist. ii. 31) of the sighting of several suns at an angle to the real sun 'either at sunrise or sunset'. The 'vaile' refers to the limitations of the onlookers' power of vision which cause them to see the bridal couple as two distinct beings.
Editor’s Note
ll. 166–7.
  • The Church Triumphant made this match before,
  • And now the Militant doth strive no more;
The Church Triumphant is invoked because marriages are 'made by God in heaven' (Sermons, iii. 249); the efforts of the Church Militant on earth are no longer needed, because it has completed its work by uniting the couple. There had, however, been 'strife' in the Church on earth in respect of the Countess's nullity suit. In the special Court of Delegates commissioned by the King to consider her petition for divorce, Archbishop Abbot and John King, Bishop of London, with three out of five doctors of law, gave judgement against the divorce, but they were outvoted seven against five by other Bishops and two doctors of law who judged in favour.
Critical Apparatus
167 more;] more, 1633
Critical Apparatus
170 or thought] Or … 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 171. payre of Swans. Swans were emblems of purity, as in Spenser's Prothalamion.
inter bring: bring to each other. This use of the verb is the only example recorded in O.E.D., s.v. 'inter-'; the word is possibly a coinage of Donne's own. For his fondness for compounds beginning with 'inter-' (e.g. 'inter-inanimates') see Z. R. Sullens, Neologisms in Donne's English Poems (Rome, 1964).
Editor’s Note
l. 172. never sing. Swans were thought to sing only once, at the time of their death. Cf. The First Anniversary, 11. 407–8.
Editor’s Note
l. 173. grounds of: reasons for; until all their wishes are fulfilled.
Editor’s Note
ll. 177–8. May there live here till the end of the world heirs from this King to take thanks, heirs from you to give thanks.
Critical Apparatus
178 from 1633, TC, Dob: for C 57, H 49, O'F (b.c.)
you] yours Dob, O'F (b.c.)
Critical Apparatus
179 Art;] Art, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 179. Nature and grace doe all, and nothing Art: 'may this mutual relation owe everything to nature and grace, the goodness of your descendants, the grace of the king, nothing to art, to policy and flattery' (Grierson).
Editor’s Note
l. 180. overthwart: obstruct.
Editor’s Note
l. 181. WestNorth: fading … coldness. Cf. 'The Good-Morrow', l. 18: 'Without sharpe North, without declining West'.
Editor’s Note
l. 182. over-blest. The compound word is not recorded in O.E.D.. The festivities are too lavish, delaying the consummation of the marriage. Cf. the Palatine 'Epithalamion', stanza v.
Critical Apparatus
183 causes MSS.: causeth 1633, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 186–9. And were the doctrine new, etc. The idea that the earth rotated was first proposed by Aristarchus of Samos (and was therefore hardly 'new'), and was revived as part of the theory of Copernicus. The popular objection to the notion was that if the earth 'moved', one would not be able to jump up, and land in the same place—an objection to which Copernicus made a careful reply. Here, as C. M. Coffin suggests, Donne is light-heartedly giving 'the traditional reason why the earth does not move as an explanation of its motion' (John Donne and the New Philosophy, New York, 1938, p. 113).
Critical Apparatus
188 goes;] goes. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 190. part: depart.
Editor’s Note
l. 191. masks: for the eyes, as well as the masques (entertainments) in which the guests danced.
Critical Apparatus
192 a Center] A Center 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 192. Center: a focus, or still point, i.e., rest, to the unified heart of the couple. The image is of the centre of the planetary system; cf. 'The Sun Rising', l. 30: 'This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.'
Critical Apparatus
195 thou'art] thou art 1633
Critical Apparatus
200 too.] to. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 200. point: of time (O.E.D., sb. 7), rather than of place (point of the compass).
doe not set so: the moon (the bride) would set before the sun (bridegroom). Even if they rose at the same hour that morning, the bride (as was customary) may go to bed first.
Critical Apparatus
202 being gone;] … gone, 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 204–5. As he that sees a starre fallfindes a gellie. The word 'jelly' was 'applied to the alga Nostoc, which appears as a jelly-like mass on dry soil after rain, and was popularly supposed to be the remains of a fallen "star" or meteor' (O.E.D., 'jelly', 2. b). I have not found an earlier reference to this piece of folk-lore. Suckling refers to it in 'Farewell to Love', ll. 11–15. Grierson quotes Dryden, Dedication to The Spanish Friar ('when I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star, I found I had been cozened with a jelly; nothing but a cold, dull mass, which glittered no longer than it was a-shooting'), and Nathanael Lee's Oedipus, 11. i, Dramatick Works (1734), i. 28 ('The shooting Stars end all in purple Gellies, / And Chaos is at Hand').
Critical Apparatus
207 such.] such, 1633
Critical Apparatus
211 seene;] seene. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 211. clothes: sc. of the soul; 'this muddy vesture of decay' (The Merchant of Venice, v. i. 64).
Critical Apparatus
214 freely,'as] freely, as 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 215–16.
  • Now, as in Tullias tombe, one lampe burnt cleare,
  • Unchang'd for fifteene hundred yeare,
There are many references in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the story that during the papacy of Paul III (1534–49) an ancient tomb on the Appian Way had been opened, in which were found the body of a beautiful girl, perfectly preserved, and a lamp still burning. At the touch of the air, the body crumbled to dust, and the amp was extinguished. The tomb bore the inscription 'Tulliolae filiae meae', and the body was identified as that of Tullia (or Tulliola), the daughter of Cicero (not his sister, as Sir Thomas Browne says in Vulgar Errors, iii. 21). 'The belief is supposed to have arisen from the taking fire of pent-up gases at the moment of opening' (Grosart). The story was well known, but Donne would have found it in the work by Guido Panciroli which he certainly read (see notes to 'Elegy on the Lady Markham'), Rerum Memorabilium … , 1599, in the chapter 'De Oleo Combustibili'; see note to 'The Undertaking' in Gardner, Elegies etc., p. 180. They had a precious composition for lamps, amongst the ancients, reserved especially for Tombes, which kept light for many hundreds of yeares; we have had in our age experience, in some casuall openings of ancient vaults, of finding such lights, as were kindled, (as appeared by their inscriptions) fifteen or sixteen hundred yeares before; but, as soon as that light comes to our light, it vanishes (Sermons, iii. 357).
Critical Apparatus
218–22 divine. … too;] divine; … too. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 219. aspire: try to rise upwards.
Editor’s Note
ll. 219–20. Fireturnes all to fire. This common idea was attacked by J. C. Scaliger (Exercitationes … , p. 69).
Critical Apparatus
222 them Σ‎.: these 1633, TC, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 222. none of them is fuell, but fire too. Neither (and no part) of them is fuel to the other's fire; both (and every part) of them is also fire; hence neither can reduce the other to ashes.
Critical Apparatus
223 where] when TC, Dob
Editor’s Note
l. 223. bonfire: a fire lit in celebration of a festive occasion (e.g. a marriage).
Critical Apparatus
226–35 omit Dob
Critical Apparatus
228 No, Sir.] No Sr. 1633
Critical Apparatus
230 all;] all, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 230. of all: shared by all.
Editor’s Note
l. 235. Such Altars: the King, or Somerset himself, to whom Donne's friend Sir Robert Ker had access.
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