Helen Gardner (ed.), John Donne: The Elegies and The Songs and Sonnets
- 1Come, Madame, come, all rest my powers defie,
- 2Until I labour, I in labour lye.
- 3The foe oft-times, having the foe in sight,
- Critical Apparatus4Is tir'd with standing, though they never fight.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus5Off with that girdle, like heavens zone glistering
- 6But a farre fairer world encompassing.
- Editor’s Note7Unpin that spangled brest-plate, which you weare
- Critical Apparatus8That th'eyes of busy fooles may be stopt there:
- Editor’s Note9Unlace your selfe, for that harmonious chime
- Critical Apparatus10Tells me from you that now 'tis your bed time.
- pg 15Critical Apparatus11Off with that happy buske, whom I envye
- 12That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
- Critical Apparatus13Your gownes going off such beauteous state reveales
- Critical Apparatus14As when from flowery meades th'hills shadow steales.
- Critical Apparatus15Off with your wyrie coronet and showe
- Critical Apparatus16The hairy dyadem which on you doth growe.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus17Off with those shoes: and then safely tread
- 18In this loves hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
- 19In such white robes heavens Angels us'd to bee
- Critical Apparatus20Receiv'd by men; Thou Angel bring'st with thee
- 21A heaven like Mahomets Paradise; and though
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus22Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
- 23By this these Angels from an evill sprite:
- Critical Apparatus24They set our haires, but these the flesh upright.
- 25 Licence my roving hands, and let them goe
- Critical Apparatus26Behind, before, above, between, below.
- Editor’s Note27Oh my America, my new found lande,
- Critical Apparatus28My kingdome, safeliest when with one man man'd,
- 29My myne of precious stones, my Empiree,
- Critical Apparatus30How blest am I in this discovering thee.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus31To enter in these bonds is to be free,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus32 Then where my hand is set my seal shall be.
- 33Full nakedness, all joyes are due to thee.
- Editor’s Note34As soules unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must bee
- Editor’s Note35To taste whole joyes. Gems which you women use
- Critical Apparatus36Are as Atlanta's balls, cast in mens viewes,
- 37That when a fooles eye lighteth on a gem
- Critical Apparatus38His earthly soule may covet theirs not them.
- pg 16Editor’s Note39Like pictures, or like bookes gay coverings made
- 40For laymen, are all women thus arraid;
- Critical Apparatus41Themselves are mystique bookes, which only wee
- Editor’s Note42Whom their imputed grace will dignify
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus43Must see reveal'd. Then since I may knowe,
- Critical Apparatus44As liberally as to a midwife showe
- 45Thy selfe; cast all, yea this white linnen hence.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus46Here is no pennance, much lesse innocence.
- 47 To teach thee, I am naked first: Why than
- 48What need'st thou have more covering than a man.
To his Mistris Going to Bed (Elegy XIX Gr). First printed in 1669. Text from C 57 with spelling regularized to that of 1633, punctuation supplemented and paragraphing supplied. Title from 1669: Going to Bed B, Gr
4 they] he Dob, S 96, A 25, Cy, P, B, S, 1669, Gr
5 zone] zones TC, Dob, W
glistering] glittering Dob, 1669, Gr
l. 5. zone. The singular is required both for sense and to avoid a further sibilant in the line. The reference is either to the 'zone or girdle of Orion' (O.E.D., 'zone', sb. 3. c), or to the outermost circle of the universe, within the Primum Mobile, the sphere of the fixed stars.
l. 7. that spangled brest-plate. The stomacher, which covered the chest under the laced bodice, was often richly ornamented with jewels.
8 that I may see my shrine that shines so faire Cy, P
l. 9. that harmonious chime. The lady is wearing a chiming watch.
10 'tis your] is … Dob, O'F: 'tis full A 25: it is 1669, Gr
11 whom] which O'F, S 96, A 25, JC, Cy, P, 1669, Gr: yt B
13 gownes] gown O'F, A 25, Cy,P, 1669, Gr
14. from] through 1669
shadow] shadows P, 1669
15 your] that Dob, Cy, P, B, 1669, Gr
16 on you] on your head 1669
17 Off with those shoes: and then H 49, TC: … these … C 57: … shoes you weare and Dob, O'F, S 96: Off with yor hose and shoes, then S: Now off with those shoes and then W, A 25, JC, Cy, P, B, 1669, Gr; see note
safely TC, Dob, O'F, S 96, W, A 25, B, S: softly C 57, H 49, JC, Cy, P, 1669
l. 17. Off with those shoes: and then safely tread. I concur with Grierson in rejecting 'softly' (I, JC, Cy, P, 1669) as an error arising from 'soft' in the following line. I differ from him in adopting the abrupt 'Off with' (I, II, and III), which repeats the opening of ll. 5 and 11, in place of 'Now off with' (W, A 25, JC et al.). The line I print is a syllable short. It can be scanned with a defective fourth foot:
But the strong pause at the colon suggests that a better scansion would regard the third foot as defective, or virtually non-existent, and take it that its deficiency received rhythmic compensation from a dramatic pause:
Cf. l. 43:
'Off with those shoes you weare' (III) and 'Off with your hose and shoes' (S) are plainly attempts to regularize the line in Groups I and II. The line in W has its full complement of syllables; but it is both less vigorous and rhythmically unsatisfactory:
It could be argued that this is the original reading and that the omission of 'Now' was due to the influence of ll. 5 and 11. I prefer the explanation that the line in W has also been regularized. The parallel in l. 43 suggests that in this dramatic monologue Donne was availing himself of a licence common in dramatic verse.
20 Receiv'd by] Revealed to 1669
22 Ill] All O'F, Cy, P, B, 1669
l. 22. Ill sprits walk in white. White is normally the garb of 'good spirits'; but since the devil is sometimes 'transformed into an angel of light' (2 Cor. xi. 14) white is no proof of a spirit's goodness.
24 They] Those O'F, 1669, Gr
the] our Dob, O'F, S 96, A 25, JC, Cy, P, B, S, 1669, Gr
26 Before, behinde, betweene, above B, 1669, Gr: Above, behinde, before, beneath S 96
l. 27. my new found lande. Modern Newfoundland was only one of many 'new found lands'. The title was not restricted to the island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence until the seventeenth century.
28 kingdome, safeliest] … safest S 96, A 25, B, S: kingdom's safest O'F, Cy, P, 1669
30 How am I blest in thus 1669
31 in Dob, W,A 25, JC, B, S: into C 57, H 49, TC, O'F, S 96, Cy, P
these Σ: those C 57, A 25
bonds Σ: Bands, C 57
l. 31. in these bonds. To 'enter into' a bond is the more common form; but since, even if we elide 'enter' into', we get an awkward line, I have preferred 'enter in' (W, A 25, JC) for which there are Shakespearian parallels.
In B, where this poem occurs at the close in a different hand from that of the bulk of the manuscript, the writer has written against this line 'why may a man not write his owne Epithalamion if he can doe it so modestly'.
32 Then Σ: There C 57, JC, P: That S
ll. 34–35. 'As souls must cast off the body to taste the fullness of joy, so bodies must cast off their clothes.' See Aquinas, S. T., Ia pars, IIae partis, q. lxix, art. ii, where it is concluded that the full reward of the blessed is after death and that in this life they have only a foretaste of bliss. For the praise of nakedness, cf. Propertius, II. xv.
ll. 35–36. Since it was Hippomenes who cast the golden balls in the path of Atalanta to distract her from the race (Ovid, Metamorphoses, x), Donne's simile which equates women with Hippomenes and men with Atalanta is not altogether happy.
36 as] like Dob, S 96, JC, 1669, Gr
balls] ball 1669
38 covet] courte P, 1669
theirs] those S: yt O'F,B,1669
- Like pictures, or like bookes gay coverings made
- For laymen,
There is a glance here at the view commonly ascribed to Papists that images and pictures are 'lay-mennes bokes' (Norton, Calvin's Institutes, 1561,I. xi) as well as at the ignorant rich man who values his books for their binding.
41 Themselves are only mysticke bookes, which we B, 1669: … musique bookes … P
l. 42. imputed grace. The Reformation dispute over Justification turned on whether the merits of Christ are imparted, as Catholics held, or merely 'imputed' by a kind of legal fiction. By using the Protestant term Donne implies the distinction between the few 'elect' and the mass of the reprobate, and also pays women a hyperbolical compliment: all merit and grace is from them.
43 see Σ: be C 57, H 49, TCD
since] since that O'F, JC, 1669, Gr: sweet that Cy, P: (sweet) since B; see note
l. 43. See note to l. 17. As there, the line has been filled out in various manuscripts.
44 a] thy JC, 1669
46 Here … much lesse Dob, S 96, A 25: There … much lesse C 57, H 49, TC, W: There … due to O'F, JC, Cy, P, B, S, 1669, Gr; see note
l. 46. Here is no pennance, much lesse innocence. Grierson preserved the reading of 1669: 'There is no pennance due to innocence.' He thought that the line I print was the original reading and that the reading of 1669 was 'a softening of the original to make it compatible with the suggestion that the poem could be read as an epithalamium', quoting the marginal note in B cited above in the note to l. 31. He presumably ascribed the 'softening' to Donne. Apart from unreliable miscellanies the reading of 1669 is found only in Lut, O'F, JC, Cy, O, P, B, and S. JC (reading here against W and A 25, with whom in the Elegies it usually agrees) may well be the source of this reading. Lut and O'F, reading here against the other Group III manuscripts, show contact with the tradition in Cy, O, and P as they do occasionally elsewhere. The agreement of Groups I, II, and III (less Lut, O'F) with W establishes 'much lesse' as the true reading, and I cannot regard the variant as anything but scribal in origin. The notion that the poem could be an epithalamium need hardly be taken seriously. The lady is plainly, like the lady of 'Love's War', a 'faire free City'; white, the colour of penitence and virginity, is not for her. The initial address 'Come, Madame, come' and the fact that she is obviously very expensively dressed suggests that she is one of the 'cities quelque choses' ('Love's Usury', l. 15).