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

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pg 13Editor’s NoteLoves Warre

  • 1Till I have peace with thee, warre other men,
  • 2And when I have peace, can I leave thee then?
  • Editor’s Note3All other warres are scrupulous; only thou,
  • Editor’s Note4O faire, free City, mayst thy selfe allow
  • Editor’s Note5To any one: In Flanders who can tell
  • 6Whether the master presse, or men rebell?
  • Editor’s Note7Only wee knowe, that which all Ideots say,
  • 8They beare most blowes which come to part the fraye.
  • Editor’s Note9France in her lunatique giddiness did hate
  • 10Ever our men, yea and our God of late,
  • 11Yet she relies upon our Angels well,
  • 12Which ne'r retourne; no more then they which fell.
  • Editor’s Note13Sick Ireland is with a strange warre possest,
  • 14Like to'an Ague, now rageinge, now at rest,
  • 15Which time will cure; yet it must do her good
  • 16If she were purg'd, and her heade-veine let blood.
  • Editor’s Note17And Midas joyes our Spanish journeys give,
  • 18Wee touch all gold, but find no foode to live;
  • Critical Apparatus19And I should be in that hot parching clime
  • 20To dust and ashes turn'd before my time.
  • 21To mewe me in a ship is to enthrall
  • Editor’s Note22Mee in a prison that were like to fall;
  • 23Or in a cloyster, save that there men dwell
  • 24In a calme heaven, here in a swaggering hell.
  • 25Long voyages are longe consumptions,
  • 26And ships are carts for executions,
  • 27Yea they are deaths; Is't not all one to fly
  • 28Into another world as 'tis to dye?
  • 29Here let mee warre; in these armes let mee lye;
  • Critical Apparatus30Here let mee parlee, batter, bleede, and dye.
  • pg 14Critical Apparatus31Thine armes emprison mee, and mine amies thee;
  • 32Thy hart thy ransome is, take mine for mee.
  • 33Other men warre that they their rest may gaine,
  • 34But we will rest that wee may fight againe.
  • 35Those warres the ignorant, these th'experienc'd love;
  • 36There wee are alwayes under, here above.
  • Editor’s Note37There engines far off breede a just true feare,
  • Critical Apparatus38Neare thrusts, pikes, stabs, yea bullets hurt not here.
  • 39There lyes are wrongs, here safe uprightly lye;
  • 40There men kill men, we'will make one by and by.
  • 41Thou nothing; I not halfe so much shall do
  • 42In these warres as they may which from us two
  • 43Shall spring. Thousands we see which travaile not
  • Editor’s Note44To warres, but stay, swords, armes and shot
  • 45To make at home: And shall not I do then
  • 46More glorious service, staying to make men?

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
Title. Grierson took over Waldron's title, but gave it an archaic spelling. B, the only manuscript with a title, takes its 'Making of Men' from the final couplet. The number of manuscript titles thus derived suggests that Donne's contemporaries did not share the view of some modern critics that his beginnings are better than his endings.
Critical Apparatus
Loves Warre (Elegy XX Gr). First printed in F. G. Waldron, A Collection of Miscellaneous Poetry, 1802, from MS. D 17. Text from C 57 with spelling regularized to that of 1633 and punctuation supplemented. Title from Gr: Making of Men B; see note
Editor’s Note
l. 3. scrupulous: hedged about with conditions that create scruples. War has laws, but not love.
Editor’s Note
l. 4. free City. A free city may open its ports and gates at its own will.
Editor’s Note
ll. 5–6. In Flanders, &c. Fighting in Flanders (used for the Low Countries generally), with mutinies of unpaid Spanish troops, and disputes between the Spanish authorities and the Estates in the Southern Provinces, and open revolt: in the Northern, was continuous in the 1590's. Donne declares that the rights and wrongs are confused and it is impossible to tell whether the master is a tyrant, oppressing his subjects, or whether the subjects are rebelling against lawful authority. The lack of sympathy here, and in the reference to 'mutinous Dutch' in 'Satire III', l. 17, with the Protestant cause in the Low Countries need not be ascribed to lingering Catholic sympathies. Donne shares it with most of his contemporaries:
The whole policy of the English government towards the revolted Netherlands was dominated by the requirements of the war with Spain. There is no indication of religious, social, political or economic sympathy with the rising Dutch state (Cheyney, op. cit. i. 296–7).
Professor R. B. Wernham, whom I have consulted over Donne's allusions to foreign affairs, was struck by how markedly he echoes 'official policy', which in this matter he writes to me:
… was not to make the Dutch independent but to restore the whole Netherlands to their ancient liberties, get the Spanish army out, and then leave them under the nominal suzerainty of Spain, who alone would be strong enough to defend them against France when France recovered. Elizabeth was still, vainly, urging this as late as 1598.
Editor’s Note
ll. 7–8.
  • Only wee knowe, that which all Ideots say,
  • They beare most blowes which come to part the fraye
What 'all Ideots say' must be a proverb. No proverb resembling this has survived in England but Scott quotes one with the same sense in Old Mortality, chap. 4: 'The redder gets aye the warst lick in the fray.' The 'redder' is one who 'redds' or 'clears up'.
Editor’s Note
ll. 9–12. France in her lunatique giddiness, &c. Flightiness was a common charge against the French, traditional enemies of the English. It was made topical in the 1590's by the treatment of English forces fighting in France, changes in French policy after the death of Henry III, the conversion of Henry IV in July 1593, and the extent of Henry's indebtedness to England. Elizabeth had financed him to the tune of nearly £400,000. The first repayment of this debt, and that a trifling one, was not made until 1603.
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–16. Sick Ireland, &c. This description fits well the uneasy period from 1594 to 1596 when Tyrone's rebellion was brewing. Spenser's Short View, written early in 1596, argues at length the view Donne puts through his medical metaphor, that drastic action is required.
Editor’s Note
l. 17. And Midas joyes our Spanish journeys give. See A. L. Rowse, The Expansion of Elizabethan England, 1955, pp. 296–7, for a summary of the economics of privateering: 'it was the professionals, not the amateurs, who profited.' The 'gentlemen-venturers' are like Midas, whose touch turned all to gold but who starved all the same; see Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi.
Critical Apparatus
19 should Σ: shall C 57,H 49 that O'F, W, A 25, JC, B: the C 57, H 49, TC, Dob, S 96, Cy, P, S, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 22. prison. Cf. Burton, 'What is a ship but a prison?' (Anatomy, part 2, sect. 3, memb. 4) and Johnson, 'No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned' (Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Powell, 1934, i. 348).
Critical Apparatus
30–31 Omit P
Critical Apparatus
31 Thine TC, Dob, O'F, S 96, A 25, Cy, B, S: thy C 57, H 49, W, JC.
Editor’s Note
l. 37. engines. The word was used at this time for all offensive weapons and not merely for those mechanically operated.
Critical Apparatus
38 Neare Σ: Ne're C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 44. To wanes, but stay, swords, armes and shot. The line is a foot short. Since no variants exist in the manuscripts to suggest emendation, it must be left.
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