W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters
- 1If, as mine is, thy life a slumber be,
- 2 Seeme, when thou read'st these lines, to dreame of me,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus3Never did Morpheus nor his brother weare
- 4Shapes soe like those Shapes, whom they would appeare,
- 5As this my letter is like me, for it
- Critical Apparatus6Hath my name, words, hand, feet, heart, minde and wit;
- pg 65Editor’s Note7It is my deed of gift of mee to thee,
- 8It is my Will, my selfe the Legacie.
- Editor’s Note9So thy retyrings I love, yea envie,
- 10Bred in thee by a wise melancholy,
- 11That I rejoyce, that unto where thou art,
- 12Though I stay here, I can thus send my heart,
- Editor’s Note13As kindly'as any enamored Patient
- 14His Picture to his absent Love hath sent.
- 15All newes I thinke sooner reach thee then mee;
- 16Havens are Heavens, and Ships wing'd Angels be,
- 17The which both Gospell, and sterne threatnings bring;
- 18Guyanaes harvest is nip'd in the spring,
- 19I feare; And with us (me thinkes) Fate deales so
- Editor’s Note20As with the Jewes guide God did; he did show
- Critical Apparatus21Him the rich land, but bar'd his entry in:
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus22Oh, slownes is our punishment and sinne.
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus23Perchance, these Spanish businesse being done,
- 24Which as the Earth betweene the Moone and Sun
- 25Eclipse the light which Guyana would give,
- Critical Apparatus26Our discontinu'd hopes we shall retrive:
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus27But if (as all th'All must) hopes smoake away,
- Editor’s Note28Is not Almightie Vertue'an India?
To Mr R. W. MSS.: TC; O'F; W. Title from MSS.: To M. R. W. 1633.
3 brother] brethren W
l. 3. brother. Morpheus, god of sleep, had many brothers, and the 'brethren' of W seems to be an emendation to correct an apparent lapse in Donne's mythological lore. But only two of Morpheus's brothers had the power to assume and to give dream-shapes, and of these Phantasus took inanimate forms. Donne must therefore mean Phobetor, or Icelus, who assumed the shapes of other animals as Morpheus assumed those of men. Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi. 635–41.
6 hand] hands TC, O'F
ll. 7–8. deed of gift … Will: two methods of freely conveying property, one when the donor is alive, the other after death.
ll. 9–10. retyrings … wise melancholy. According to one theory (arising mainly from discussions of Aristotle, Problemata, xxx. 1), melancholy, wisely controlled, can make men of letters and contemplative people happy and truly blessed; cf. L. Babb, The Elizabethan Malady, 1951, pp. 58 ff. This is not the Galenist theory of melancholy, as a humour run to excess (as in the Letter to Lady Carey, ll. 25–27). Woodward's 'retyrings' are the normal rewarding state of a contemplative man, not the morbid symptom of an 'unnatural' or corrupt melancholy.
l. 13. Patient: sufferer.
l. 20. the Jemes guide: Moses. Cf. Num. xx. 12, Deut. xxxiv. 1–5.
21 in:] in, 1633
22 Oh Σ: Ah W: Our 1633
sinne.] sinne; 1633
l.22. punishment and sinne. Donne is fond of this phrase, doubtless because (as he says also in other places) 'when we consider Caines words in that originall tongue in which God spake, we cannot tell whether the words be, My punishment is greater then can be born; or, My sin is greater then can be forgiven' (Letters, p. 9). Cf. Gen. iv. 13.
23 these] this TC
business] businesses O'F, W
l. 23. these … businesse. The use of the singular form of the noun with plural meaning is normal. Cf. 'Idle, and discoursing men, that were not much affected, how businesse went, so they might talke of them' (Sermons, iv. 182).
26 discontinu'd] discontinued 1633
27 all th'All] All th'All 1633
l. 27. all tb' All: the whole universe. Cf. Sylvester's Bartas His Divine Weeks and Works, 1605, p, 2: 'But all this All did once (of nought) begin.' smoake away; referring to the destruction of the world by fire.
l. 28. an India: a source of priceless benefits, usually material (as in 'Satire I', l. 58), but here, spiritual.
ll. 29–31. If the correspondence of the microcosm (Man) to the macrocosm is valid, there must be something to correspond with all material benefits (the world's wealth), and in good men this is virtue.
30 to'answere] to answere
31 this,] this 1633
ll. 31–32. our formes form and our soules soule. Donne refers to the Aristotelian theory that the soul is the 'form' of the body—that by which the body has life, activity, and individuality. Cf. De Anima, ii, 414a; and Aquinas, S. T., Ia pars, q. lxxvi, art. 1. Paradoxically, says Donne, the soul itself has a 'form' or 'Soul' which gives it effective life—virtue. In 'Goodfriday', ll. 1–10, the 'Soules forme' is 'devotion'.
32 soule,] soule 1633