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

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Loves Progress

  • 1Who ever loves, if hee doe not propose
  • Critical Apparatus2The right true end of love, hee's one which goes
  • 3To sea for nothing but to make him sicke.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus4And love's a beare-whelpe borne; if wee'overlicke
  • Critical Apparatus5Our love, and force it new strange shapes to take
  • 6We erre, and of a lumpe a monster make.
  • Editor’s Note7Were not a Calf a monster that were growne
  • 8Fac'd like a man, though better than his owne?
  • Editor’s Note9Perfection is in unitie; Preferre
  • 10One woman first, and then one thing in her.
  • 11I, when I value gold, may thinke upon
  • 12The ductillness, the application,
  • 13The wholesomeness, the ingenuity,
  • Critical Apparatus14From rust, from soyle, from fyre ever free,
  • pg 1715But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made
  • Editor’s Note16By our new Nature, use, the soule of trade.
  • 17  All these in women wee might thinke upon
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus18(If women had them) but yet love but one.
  • 19Can men more injure women than to say
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus20They love'them for that by which they are not they?
  • 21Makes virtue woman? Must I cool my blood
  • 22Till I both bee, and find one, wise and good?
  • 23May barren Angels love so: But if wee
  • 24Make love to woman, Vertue is not shee,
  • Critical Apparatus25As Beauty's not, nor Wealth. Hee that strayes thus,
  • 26From her to hers, is more adulterous
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus27Than if hee tooke her mayde. Search every spheare
  • 28And firmament, our Cupid is not there.
  • 29He's an infernall God, and under ground
  • Editor’s Note30With Pluto dwells, where gold and fyre abound.
  • Editor’s Note31Men to such Gods their sacrificing coales
  • Critical Apparatus32Did not in Altars lay, but pits and holes.
  • Editor’s Note33Although wee see celestiall bodies move
  • Critical Apparatus34Above the earth, the earth we till and love:
  • 35So we her ayres contemplate, words and hart
  • 36And vertues; But we love the Centrique part.
  • 37  Nor is the soule more worthy, or more fit
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus38For love than this, as infinite as it.
  • 39But in attaining this desired place
  • Critical Apparatus40How much they stray that set out at the face.
  • 41The hair a forrest is of ambushes,
  • Critical Apparatus42Of springes, snares, fetters and manacles.
  • 43The brow becalms us, when 'tis smooth and plaine,
  • 44And when 'tis wrinkled, shipwracks us againe;
  • 45Smooth 'tis a Paradise where we would have
  • Critical Apparatus46Immortall stay, and wrinkled 'tis our grave.
  • pg 18Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus47The nose like to the first Meridian runs
  • 48Not 'twixt an East and West, but 'twixt two suns.
  • 49It leaves a cheeke, a rosy hemispheare,
  • 50On either side, and then directs us where
  • 51Upon the Hands Fortunate wee fall
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus52(Not faint Canarye but Ambrosiall),
  • Critical Apparatus53Her swelling lips: to which when we are come
  • 54Wee anchor there, and think our selves at home,
  • 55For they seem all: there Syrens songs, and there
  • 56Wise Delphique Oracles doe fill the eare;
  • Critical Apparatus57There in a creeke where chosen pearles doe swell
  • Editor’s Note58The Remora, her cleavinge tongue doth dwell.
  • 59These, and the glorious promontorye, her chinne,
  • Critical Apparatus60O'rpast; and the straight Hellespont between
  • Editor’s Note61The Sestos and Abydos of her brests,
  • 62Not of two Lovers, but two Loves, the nests,
  • Critical Apparatus63Succeeds a boundless sea, but that thine eye
  • 64Some Iland moles may scatter'd there descrye;
  • Editor’s Note65And sailing towards her India, in that way
  • Critical Apparatus66Shall at her faire Atlantique navell stay;
  • Critical Apparatus67Though thence the currant be thy pilot made,
  • Critical Apparatus68Yet ere thou bee where thou wouldst bee embay'd,
  • 69Thou shalt upon another forrest set
  • Critical Apparatus70Where some doe shipwracke, and no farther gett.
  • 71When thou art there, consider what this chace
  • 72Mispent, by thy beginning at the face.
  • 73  Rather set out below; practise my art.
  • 74Some symetrie the foote hath with that part
  • 75Which thou dost seeke, and is thy map for that,
  • 76Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at;
  • 77Least subject to disguise and change it is,
  • Editor’s Note78Men say, the devill never can change his.
  • pg 19Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus79It is the embleme that hath figured
  • 80Firmness; 'tis the first part that comes to bed.
  • Editor’s Note81Civility, wee see, refin'd the kisse
  • Critical Apparatus82Which, at the face begun, transplanted is
  • 83Since to the hand, since to th'Imperiall knee,
  • 84Now at the Papall foote delights to bee.
  • 85If Kings thinke that the nearer way and doe
  • 86Rise from the foote, lovers may doe so too.
  • Editor’s Note87For as free spheares move faster far than can
  • 88Birds, whome the ayre resists, so may that man
  • 89Which goes this empty and etheriall way
  • 90Than if at beauties elements hee stay.
  • 91Rich Nature hath in woman wisely made
  • Editor’s Note92Two purses, and their mouthes aversely laid;
  • 93They then which to the lower tribute owe
  • Critical Apparatus94That way which that exchequer lookes must goe.
  • 95Hee which doth not, his error is as greate
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus96As who by Clyster gave the stomach meate.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
Loves Progress (Elegy XVIII Gr). Dob, W omit. First printed in Wit and Drollery, 1661. Printed in 1669. Text from C 57 with spelling regularized to that of 1633, punctuation supplemented and paragraphing supplied. Title from H 49, O'F, A 25, JC, B, S
Critical Apparatus
2 which] that O'F, S 96, Cy, P, S, 1669, Gr
Critical Apparatus
4 And love's] Love is JC, S, 1669, Gr.
wee'overlicke] wee o're licke S 96, JC, S, 1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 4. wee'overlicke. The abbreviated form 'o'relicke' (1669 and some inferior manuscripts) gives a line that only scans if we leave 'wee o're' unelided which is contrary to Donne's usual practice. I follow the best manuscripts in reading 'over' and have supplied an elision mark.
For the allusion, see note to 'The Bracelet', l. 31.
Critical Apparatus
5 strange] strong 1669
Editor’s Note
ll. 7–8. 'Would not a Calf be a monster that developed a face like a man's though that face were, in itself, better than its own?'
Editor’s Note
l. 9. Perfection is in unitie. The 'perfect' is one, single, and unmixed. By a parody of logic Donne argues from this unexceptionable premise that if we love 'one thing' in woman we love 'the perfect'.
Critical Apparatus
14 ever] for ever O'F, S 96, Cy, S
Editor’s Note
l. 16. our new Nature, use. Cf. 'Love's Deity', l. 6: 'that vice-nature, custome'.
Critical Apparatus
18 but] and S 96, S, 1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 18. but one: only one thing, contrasted with 'all these' (things).
Critical Apparatus
20 they are] they're 1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 20. they are. Grierson accepted the reading of 1669 'they're', which gives a line of ten syllables but with the stress falling on all the unimportant words:
Lines of poetry with graphic scansion
There is no manuscript authority for the elision, though elision in such circumstances is usual in Donne. Since the line runs more vigorously if we regard 'them' as an extra unaccented syllable in the first foot ('em'), I have at the risk of inconsistency accepted 'they are' as unelided:
Lines of poetry with graphic scansion
Critical Apparatus
25 Beauty's, not] Beauties no 1669
Critical Apparatus
27 if hee tooke] hee that tooke O'F, Cy, P, (takes) B, S
Editor’s Note
ll. 27–28. Search every spheare, &c. No planet in its sphere or constellation in the firmament is named after Cupid. Not being a celestial God he must be presumed to be infernal.
Editor’s Note
l. 30. where gold and fyre abound. The service of Cupid demands gold in the purse as well as fire in the heart, so he may well be sought underground.
Editor’s Note
ll. 31–32. Men to such Gods, &c. Grierson cites Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, iv. 9 (trans. Gifford, 1903), where Eusebius quotes from a lost work of Porphyry on the sacrifices appropriate to celestial, terrestrial, and infernal gods:
  • For gods infernal bury deep, and cast
  • The blood into a trench.
See Migne, P.G. xxi, col. 254; and cf. a story told by Valerius Maximus (ii. 4. 5).
Critical Apparatus
32 in] on O'F, S 96, Cy, JC, S, 1669
Editor’s Note
ll. 33–36. The 'Centrique part', or centre, of the universe is the earth. For Donne's analogy, cf. Measure for Measure, I. iv. 43–44:
  •           Even so her plenteous womb
  • Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry
Critical Apparatus
34 till Σ: fill C 57
Critical Apparatus
38 it Σ: yett C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 38. as infinite as it. I am unable to explain this.
Critical Apparatus
40 stray] err S 96, S, 1669, Gr
Critical Apparatus
42 springes O'F, A 25, JC, Cy, P, B, S: springs C 57, H 49, TC, 1669
Critical Apparatus
46 and] but 1669
our] a S 96, 1669
Critical Apparatus
47 first] sweet 1669
Editor’s Note
l. 47. the first Meridian. Cf. 'The ancient Cosmographers do place the division of the East and Western Hemisphere, that is the first term of longitude in the Canary or fortunate Islands. … But the Moderns have altered that term, and translated it unto the Azores or Islands of St. Michael.' (Pseudodoxia Epidemica, VI. vii.) In a sermon preached in 1627 Donne, as here, assumes the first Meridian runs through the Canaries; see Sermons, vii. 310.
Critical Apparatus
52 Canarye] Canaries TC, O'F, S 96, S,1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 52. (Not faint Canarye but Ambrosiall). Canary is a light, sweet wine: ambrosia, the fabled drink of the Gods.
Critical Apparatus
53 Unto her swelling lips when we are come 1669
Critical Apparatus
57 There] Here H 49: Then Cy, P, B, 1669
where Σ: when C 57, H 49: omit P
Editor’s Note
l. 58. The Remora, her cleavinge tongue. The remora, or sucking fish, was believed to be able to stop any ship to which it attached itself, as a woman's tongue will delay her lover's progress to the desired port.
Critical Apparatus
60 Being past the Straits of Hellespont between 1669
Editor’s Note
ll. 61–62. The Sestos and Abydos, &c. Hero lived in Sestos and Leander in Abydos, on the opposite shores of the Hellespont.
Critical Apparatus
63 that] yet 1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 65. India: used allusively at this time as a source of wealth.
Critical Apparatus
66 faire Σ: omit C 57
Critical Apparatus
67 thence] hence P:there 1669
thy] the 1669
Critical Apparatus
68 wouldst] shouldst 1669
Critical Apparatus
70 some doe] many O'F, S, 1669, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 78. the devill never can change his. It was popularly held that the devil could never disguise his cloven foot. Cf. Othello, v. ii. 288: 'I look down towards his feet—but that's a fable.'
Critical Apparatus
79 that Σ: which C 57, H 49, A 25, JC
Editor’s Note
ll. 79–80. Professor Wind informs me that Scarlatini, Homo Symbolicus, 1695 (pp. 319 ff. and 325 ff.), lists a series of authorities, chiefly theological, for regarding the foot as an emblem of firmitas or soliditas.
Editor’s Note
ll. 81–84. Grierson followed 1669 in reading 'began' for 'begun' and accepted its punctuation with a colon after 'refin'd' The weight of manuscript authority is overwhelmingly on the side of 'begun' and of taking 'we see' as parenthetical and 'the kisse' as the object of 'refin'd'.
'Politeness, we see, refined our habits in kissing.' The kiss on the face is the kiss between equals. To kiss the hand is to acknowledge superiority; to kiss the knee is a sign of feudal service; to kiss the foot is a sign of total subservience. 'In English satires, from a cut in Foxe's Martyrs in 1576 to a poster against Gladstone in 1885, kissing of the papal toe recurs as a sign of abject subservience to Rome' (M. Dorothy George, English Political Caricature to 1792, 1959, p. 5). Kissing the Pope's foot seems to be first attested in the ninth century (Duchesne, Liber Pontificalis, ii. 107).
Critical Apparatus
82 begun] began O'F, S 96, Cy, P, 1669, Gr; see note
Editor’s Note
ll. 87–89. For as free spheares, &c. The speed at which the spheres move, making a complete circuit of the heavens every twenty-four hours, is contrasted with the speed of birds which, being sublunary, have to contend with the element of air.
Editor’s Note
l. 92. Two purses. A purse was originally a small bag capable of being drawn tightly together at the mouth by 'purse-strings', hence 'pursing of the lips'. Donne plays here on the notion of the lips as the mouth of one purse and the obscene colloquial use of 'purse'.
Critical Apparatus
94. lookes Σ: bookes C 57: opes JC
Critical Apparatus
96 Clyster Σ: Glysters C 57,H 49: glister P, B, S, 1669
gave] gives TCD, O'F, Cy, P, B, S, 1669
Editor’s Note
l. 96. Clyster: enema.
meate: food.
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