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

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Loves Growth

  • Editor’s Note1I scarce beleeve my love to be so pure
  • 2  As I had thought it was,
  • 3     Because it doth endure
  • 4Vicissitude, and season, as the grasse;
  • 5Me thinkes I lyed all winter, when I swore,
  • 6My love was infinite, if spring make'it more.
  • Editor’s Note7But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
  • 8  With more, not onely bee no quintessence,
  • Critical Apparatus9  But mixt of all stuffes, paining soule, or sense,
  • Critical Apparatus10And of the Sunne his working vigour borrow,
  • Critical Apparatus11Love's not so pure, and abstract, as they use
  • Critical Apparatus12To say, which have no Mistresse but their Muse,
  • Editor’s Note13But as all else, being elemented too,
  • Critical Apparatus14Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus15And yet not greater, but more eminent,
  • 16   Love by the spring is growne;
  • 17   As, in the firmament,
  • Critical Apparatus18Starres by the Sunne are not inlarg'd, but showne.
  • pg 7719Gentle love deeds, as blossomes on a bough,
  • Critical Apparatus20From loves awaken'd root do bud out now.
  • 21If, as in water stir'd more circles bee
  • 22  Produc'd by one, love such additions take,
  • Critical Apparatus23  Those like to many spheares, but one heaven make,
  • Critical Apparatus24For, they are all concentrique unto thee;
  • Editor’s Note25And though each spring doe adde to love new heate,
  • 26As princes doe in times of action get
  • 27New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
  • Critical Apparatus28No winter shall abate the springs encrease.

Notes Settings


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Loves Growth. H 40, L 74, HK 2, A 25 omit. Title from 1633, TC: Springe C 57, H 49, Dob, S 96: The Spring O'F, Cy, P, B, S. Printed with first stanza divided after l. 6 in 1633.
Editor’s Note
l. 1. pure: simple and unmixed, therefore not subject to change.
Editor’s Note
ll. 7–8..
  • But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
  •    With more, not onely bee no quintessence,
Cf. Puttenham, Arte of English Poesy.
Not with any medicament of a contrary temper, as the Galenists use to cure (contraria contrariis) but as the Paracelsians, who cure (similia similibus) making one dolour to expell another (I. xxiv).
quintessence. Paracelsus held that every substance contained a quintessence which, extracted from it, contained the force or virtue of the substance purged of all impurities. See Paracelsus, Archidoxis, 1. iv. 35, cited by Grierson. Paracelsus sometimes speaks as if there were one 'quintessence' giving virtue to all substances, the 'generall balme' of 'A Nocturnal' (l. 6); and sometimes as if each substance had its own quintessence; cf. 'To the Countess of Bedford' (Grierson, i. 190):
  • In every thing there naturally growes
  • A Balsamum to keepe it fresh, and new.
Belief in the quintessence justified the use of chemical medicines by the Paracelsians who aimed at stimulating the natural forces to resist disease. Galenists aimed at restoring the natural balance of the humours. See Letters, pp. 97–98.
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9 paining] vexing Dob, O'F, S 96, Cy, P, S
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10 working] active O'F, Cy, P, S: TC omits l. 10
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11 pure, and] pure an Dob, O'F, S 96, Cy, P, B, JC, S
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12 which] who O'F, Cy, P: that S 96: they S
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–14. elemented: made up of elements, mixed. sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do. In Mystical Theology the Mixed. Life, part active and part contemplative, is the life proper to prelates and was the life led by Christ on earth; see Aquinas, S. T., IIa pars, IIae partis, q. clxxxii, art. 1.
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14 do.] do 1633
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15 not Σ: no 1633, S, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 15–18. And yet not greater, but more eminent, &c. I cannot accept Grierson's explanation that l. 18 means that stars are not enlarged by the sun but are made to seem larger. I think 'by the Sunne' means 'near the sun'. Love has risen higher in the heavens by spring and shines the more brilliantly as do stars when near to the sun.
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18 showne.] showne, 1633
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20 awaken'd] awakened 1633
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23 to many Σ: so many 1633, S, Gr: the P
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24 thee;] thee, 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 25–28. As in 'A Lecture upon the Shadow', Donne concludes by rejecting his analogy between the times and seasons of the natural world and the course of love.
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28 the] this O'F, Cy, P, S
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