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

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Loves Exchange

  • 1Love, any devill else but you,
  • 2 Would for a given Soule give something too.
  • 3  At Court your fellowes every day,
  • Critical Apparatus4Give th'art of Riming, Huntsmanship, and Play,
  • Critical Apparatus5  For them who were their owne before;
  • Critical Apparatus6  Onely'I have nothing which gave more,
  • 7But am, alas, by being lowly, lower.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus8  I aske not dispensation now
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus9To falsifie a teare, or sigh, or vow,
  • 10  I do not sue from thee to draw
  • 11A non obstante on natures law,
  • 12  These are prerogatives, they inhere
  • 13  In thee and thine; none should forsweare
  • 14Except that hee Loves minion were.
  • Editor’s Note15  Give mee thy weaknesse, make mee blinde,
  • 16Both wayes, as thou and thine, in eies and minde;
  • 17  Love, let me never know that this
  • 18Is love, or, that love childish is.
  • pg 4719  Let me not know that others know
  • Critical Apparatus20  That she knowes my paine, least that so
  • 21A tender shame make me mine owne new woe.
  • 22  If thou give nothing, yet thou'art just,
  • 23Because I would not thy first motions trust;
  • Editor’s Note24  Small townes which stand stiffe, till great shot
  • 25Enforce them, by warres law condition not.
  • 26  Such in loves warfare is my case,
  • 27  I may not article for grace,
  • Critical Apparatus28Having put Love at last to shew this face.
  • 29  This face, by which he could command
  • Critical Apparatus30And change th'Idolatrie of any land,
  • 31  This face, which wheresoe'r it comes,
  • 32Can call vow'd men from cloisters, dead from tombes,
  • 33  And melt both Poles at: once, and store
  • 34  Deserts with cities, and make more
  • 35Mynes in the earth, then Quarries were before.
  • Critical Apparatus36  For this, Love is enrag'd with mee,
  • Critical Apparatus37Yet kills not. If I must example bee
  • 38  To future Rebells; If th'unborne
  • 39Must learne, by my being cut up, and torne:
  • 40  Kill, and dissect me, Love; for this
  • 41  Torture against thine owne end is,
  • Editor’s Note42Rack't carcasses make ill Anatomies.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
Loves Exchange. L 74, S 96, Cy, A 25, S omit. Title from 1633, TC.
Critical Apparatus
4 and MSS.: or 1633, Gr
Play] play 1633
Critical Apparatus
5 who MSS.: which 1633, Gr
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6 Onely'I] Onely I 1633
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8 not Σ: no 1633, C 57, JC, Gr: but TCC
Editor’s Note
ll. 8–14. I aske not dispensation now, &c. In Biathanatos (p. 48), Donne, discussing dispensations from oaths and vows, refers to Aquinas: 'implere votum est de lege naturae et est etiam praeceptum legis divinae'(S. T., IIa pars, IIae partis qq. lxxxviii and lxxxix).
a non obstante: 'a licence from the Crown to do that which could not lawfully be done without it' (Wharton's Law Dictionary). Cf. 'Nature is the Common law by which God governs us, and Miracle is his Prerogative. For Miracles are but so many Non-obstantes upon Nature' (Simpson, Essays, p. 81). The presence of non-obstante clauses in letters-patent granting privileges, monopolies, and licences protected the holders against being sued in the courts of Common Law 'since these courts could not proceed with cases concerning the prerogative without the Crown's consent, while patentees had recourse to the Privy Council and the Star Chamber, whose duty it was to defend and enforce the royal prerogative' (J. E. Neale, Elizabeth and her Parliaments 1584–1601, 1957, p. 352). The question was a burning one in the Parliament of 1597–8 and the struggle against patents and monopolies came to a climax in the Parliament of 1601 in which Donne sat. Cf. 'Love's Deity' and 'A Valediction: of the Book'.
Love, as a monarch, grants privileges exempting his favourites from obedience to the law of nature which demands that oaths should be kept: cf. Romeo and Juliet, II. ii. 92:
  •              at lovers' perjuries
  • They say Jove laughs;
and its source, Ovid, Ars Amatoria, i. 631–4.
Critical Apparatus
9 a teare, or sigh, or vow] a teare or vow H 40, C 57, H 49, TC, O'F (b.c), JC: a teare, a sigh, a vowe HK 2: a sigh, a teare, a vowe Dob, P, B; see note
Editor’s Note
l. 9. or sigh, I retain 1633 with some doubt. The agreement of H 40 with Groups I and II in omitting 'or sigh' suggests Donne wrote a short line here. He has, in this and the following stanza, varied from the other stanzas by making the fourth line octosyllabic. The manuscripts that agree with 1633 may be merely agreeing in an obvious expansion.
Editor’s Note
l. 15. Give mee thy weaknesse. The religion of Cupid parodies the devout: Christian's refusal to ask for other reward than to share the weakness of his God.
Critical Apparatus
20 paine MSS.: paines 1633, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 24–25. Small townes,&c. The publication of Alberico Gentili's De Jure Belli, 1588 and 1589, gave rise to a number of other books on the laws of war in the 1590's. Gentili, an Italian Protestant exile, was Professor of Law at Oxford. In Book II, chaps. 16 and 17, Gentili declares that once artillery has been brought up to a weak place ('si ad infirma loca deducuntur bombardae') there can be no question of terms of surrender. l. 27, article: make stipulations.
Critical Apparatus
28 Love] love 1633
Critical Apparatus
30 th'Idolatrie] the Idolatrie 1633
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36 For this, Love] For, this love 1633
Critical Apparatus
37 not. If] not; if 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 42. Rack't carcasses make ill Anatomies. The companies of Surgeons and Barbers from the reign of Henry VIII were permitted to take yearly for dissection the bodies of four persons condemned and put to death for felony. Later they seem to have had the right to the bodies of all, except traitors, executed at Tyburn. Strype describes a yearly anatomy lecture lasting for three days before students; this 'yearly anatomy' is alluded to by Nashe in The Unfortunate Traveller (Works, ii. 304; see also i. 196, 19–20 and note). Cf. Donne's verses on Coryate, ll. 53–54 (Grierson, i. 173):
  • Worst malefactors, to whom men are prize,
  • Do publike good, cut in Anatomies.
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