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

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The Prohibition

  • 1Take heed of loving mee,
  • Critical Apparatus2At least remember, I forbade it thee;
  • 3  Not that I shall repaire my'unthrifty wast
  • Critical Apparatus4Of Breath and Blood, upon thy sighes, and teares,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus5  By being to thee then what to me thou wast;
  • 6But, so great Joy, our life at once outweares,
  • 7  Then, least thy love, by my death, frustrate bee,
  • 8  If thou love mee, take heed of loving mee.
  • 9    Take heed of hating mee,
  • 10Or too much triumph in the Victorie.
  • Editor’s Note11  Not that I shall be mine owne officer,
  • 12And hate with hate againe retaliate;
  • Editor’s Note13  But thou wilt lose the stile of conquerour,
  • 14If I, thy conquest, perish by thy hate.
  • 15  Then, least my being nothing lessen thee,
  • 16  If thou hate mee, take heed of hating mee.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
The Prohibition. H 40, C 57, L 74, A 25, S omit. TC, Dob, S 96 omit stanza 3: B gives the first two stanzas under the heading J.D. and the third under T.R. Title from 1633, TC.
Critical Apparatus
2 forbade] forbidd Dob, O'F, S 96, HK 2, Cy, P
Critical Apparatus
4. teares,] teares: 1633 uncorrected
Critical Apparatus
5 By … wast S 96, Cy, JC: By being to me … Dob, O'F (b.c), HK 2, P, B: omit H 49, TC: By being to mee then that which thou wast 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 5. This line is missing in Group II and in those Group I manuscripts (D, H 49, SP) that include the poem. In most of the manuscripts that preserve it there is an obvious error (mee for thee) which 1633, in its lame version, incorporated.
Editor’s Note
l. 11. officer: executioner.
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–14. She will lose the glory of leading him captive.
Critical Apparatus
18 neythers H 49, JC: neyther O'F: neyther their Cy: ne'r their 1633, HK 2, P, B
Editor’s Note
l.18. neythers. The reading of 1633, HK 2, P, B, 'ne'r their', is an obvious misreading of 'neyther' which Cy has unmetrically emended, the writer recognizing that the sense required 'neither' or 'neither's'.
Critical Apparatus
20 thy] my 1633 uncorrected
love's] love is 1633
Critical Apparatus
22 I live,] I live 1633: I, live, Gr Stage Σ: stay 1633, H 49, JC
Triumph] triumph 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 22. So shall I live, thy Stage, not Triumph bee. Grierson took 'live' as a shortened form of 'alive' and punctuated 'So shall I, live,. …'. It seems simpler to take it as a verb, cognate with 'bee'.
If he lives he will be the stage on which she can perpetually display her power over him instead of triumphing once and for all. The culmination of a Roman Triumph was the slaughter of the captives.
Critical Apparatus
23 Then … undoe H 49, O'F, Cy, JC: Lest thou thy love and hate and mee undoe 1633, HK 2, P, B, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 23–24.
  • Then, least thy love, hate and mee thou undoe,
  • Oh let mee live, yet love and hate mee too.
Grierson retained the reading of 1633 which has the support of HK 2, P, B. These are in general unreliable manuscripts. The reading I adopt is that of the better manuscripts and makes the final couplet repeat the formula of the final couplets of the first and second stanzas. Each of the first two stanzas ends with a couplet beginning with the words 'Then, least…' and ending with the opening line of its stanza.
Critical Apparatus
24 Oh … yet O'F, Cy: Oh … O H 49, JC: To … Oh 1633, HK 2, P, B, Gr
live, Oh] live of 1633 uncorrected
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