W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Epithalamions, Anniversaries and Epicedes

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With the exception of the three poems published by Donne and referred to as the Anniversaries in his letters and of the 'Elegy on Prince Henry', the poems in this volume were first printed after the poet's death. In establishing their texts it is therefore necessary to consider manuscript copies which antedate 1633, especially since the editor of 1633 used for the printer's copy manuscripts belonging to two of the main groups, which a priori had no more authority than exemplars of these two manuscript traditions which are extant. The editor of 1633 corrected the text of one of his main manuscripts by comparing it with that of the other, and appears to have referred to another source in order to make good deficiencies shared by his two main manuscripts; and he seems to have occasionally altered readings on his own initiative in order to 'improve' the meaning and the rhythm. Though 1633 is the only one of the early editions which has any authority, the value of its readings varies with the source for the moment being employed; and its text must be continually checked against the evidence of the surviving manuscripts. This theory of the texts was put forward by Sir Herbert Grierson in 1912 and developed by Helen Gardner in her editions of the Divine Poems (1952) and The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets (1965). Manuscripts to which I refer are more fully discussed in these last two volumes, and in Milgate, Satires etc. Confirmation of the general soundness of Grierson's basic theory, and of the refinements that have later been made upon it, has been given in the text of the verse letter 'To the Lady Carey, and Mrs. Essex Rich' in a copy in Donne's handwriting discovered in 1970.1 In this edition I therefore follow the same principles as those adopted in earlier volumes in the series, dealing at length only with the comparatively few problems in the text of the poems here presented.



One of the manuscripts used by the editor of 1633 belonged to a group designated Group I, of which five members are extant: C 57, D, H 49, Lec and SP.1 They derive from a common ancestor (X), which contained a collection of poems probably made by Donne himself in 1614. The relationships of the surviving manuscripts of the Group can be summarized by the following stemma:

Stemma summarizing relationships of the surviving manuscripts of Group I

All these manuscripts omit lines in 'Obsequies to the Lord Harington' (end of l. 159 to the middle of l. 161). Since none of them contains the 'Epithalamion made at Lincoln's Inn', 'Elegy on the Death of Mistress Bulstrode' ('Language thou art too narrow'), the 'Elegy on Prince Henry', or 'An Hymn to the Saints, and to Marquess Hamilton', it may be presumed that these four poems were not in the original collection (X). Another manuscript, H 40, though it cannot be considered as part of Group I because it does not descend from X, has close connections with the Group. It shares with RP 31 a miscellaneous collection of poems (including seven certainly by Donne); but it adds thirty-nine of Donne's poems not found in RP 31, including the elegies on Lady Markham and Mrs. Bulstrode ('Death I recant'), which are found in the Group I collection. The text, and other features, of the poems by Donne in H 40 suggest that all but one ('The Flea') descend from pg xlixportions of the same collection of loose sheets and quires (presumably Donne's own copies) used by the compiler of X.1

The editor of 1633 sought his text of verses missing from his Group I manuscript in a manuscript belonging to another main group, Group II, of which four members are extant: A 18, N, TCC and TCD.2 A 18 is a copy of TCC and N is a copy of TCD. Since TCD contains more poems than TCC, has a better text, and is sometimes better arranged, it cannot descend from TCC but must descend, like TCC, from a collection of Donne's works designated Y. TCC differs from TCD in omitting the Epithalamion for Princess Elizabeth's marriage, the 'Elegy on Prince Henry', and 'Obsequies to the Lord Harington'; it is possible that these poems were in Y and were ignored by the copyist of TCC. It has been plausibly suggested that Y was, or was derived from, a collection of his writings entrusted by Donne to his friend Sir Robert Ker (later Earl of Ancrum) just before leaving England in 1619 as chaplain to the embassy of Viscount Doncaster.3 This suggestion is supported by the inclusion in the Group II manuscripts of the unfinished poem 'Resurrection'; for poets do not usually circulate unfinished poems, though they may keep them among their papers. It is also interesting that the 'Hymn to the Saints, and to Marquess Hamilton', written at Ker's request in 1625, is added in TCC (after a blank page) and in TCD (in a hand different from that in which most of the poems were transcribed); the omission of the poem from N shows that N was copied from TCD before the 'Hymn' was added. Another manuscript, L 74, apparently represents a smaller collection from which Y grew by accretion; it has a good text agreeing with that in the Group II manuscripts but free from their characteristic errors.4 Of pg lthe poems in the present volume, L 74 contains only the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham' and the two epicedes on Mistress Bulstrode. The relationship of another manuscript, DC, to Group II is less clear, since leaves have been lost from it, and with them a good deal of textual evidence. The 'Epithalamion made at Lincoln's Inn' breaks off at the foot of a page at l. 72, and its completion, and the other two epithalamions, were presumably copied on leaves now missing. The text resumes with ll. 45–62 of the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham', which are followed by 'Elegie Mis Bolstred' ('Death I recant') and the first eighty-seven lines of 'Elegy on Prince Henry'. Two more leaves are missing, and the text begins again at l. l09 of 'obsequies to the Lord Harington'. The manuscript apparently never included the Hamilton 'Hymn' or the other elegy on Mistress Bulstrode ('Language thou art too narrow'). The text of DC is occasionally very poor (as in the Harington 'Obsequies'). It is basically that of Group II, but in some readings it agrees with 1633 against Group II.1 In establishing the text of the poems in this volume DC is of little use.

The other manuscripts containing collections of Donne's poems were said by Grierson to constitute Group III, with the exception of W, which stands apart from the rest. This manuscript is a fair copy in the hand of Donne's friend Rowland Woodward of three groups of the poet's writings. The first section of W contains no poem (with one explicable exception) known to have been composed after 1598, and it includes the 'Epithalamion made at Lincoln's Inn' (but the manuscript contains none of the epicedes or the other epithalamions). The text is good, and must derive closely from Donne's own copy of the poem.

Among the other manuscripts which represent a tradition of the text different from that in Groups I and II there are four large collections of his poetry which can be more properly designated 'Group III': Dob, Lut, O'F, and S 96.2 The poems which they have in common (except the Satires) have a text which derives from a pg licommon original. All contain the three epithalamions, but of the epicedes Dob lacks the 'Elegy upon the Death of Mistress Bulstrode' ('Language thou art too narrow') and both Dob and S 96 lack the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' and the Hamilton 'Hymn'. These two manuscripts represent the collection at an earlier stage than Lut (copied 1631–2) and O'F (dated 12 October 1632), which contain poems added from a Group II manuscript. The writer of Lut was conscious of difficulties in the text; he occasionally records an alternative reading in the margin, he sometimes makes corrections, and it is probable that he has silently incorporated into the text readings from his Group II manuscript and elsewhere, and 'corrections' of his own. O'F, which (like Lut) contains all the epithalamions and epicedes, derives from Lut. The compiler of O'F added some more poems and the Paradoxes and Problems, and achieved the fullest and best arranged of the surviving manuscripts of Donne's work. Two correctors have been at work in the manuscript, one possibly the original scribe, altering many, though by no means all, readings different from those in 1633 to the wording of the edition. It seems very probable that O'F was being prepared for an edition of Donne's poems, and that the compiler was forestalled by the appearance of 1633. Even the scribe of Lut seems to have had publication in mind, and noted that the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' was 'since in print but out of print'. The compiler of O'F had no reason to be totally discouraged by the publication of 1633, since he had many more poems than had appeared in the edition. It looks as if either he entered into an arrangement with the publisher of 1633, John Marriott, or Marriott acquired O'F; for the second edition of the Poems in 1635 obviously had O'F as one of its main sources.1 Despite the differences among them due to error and sophistication, however, in the poems they share Dob, Lut, O'F, and S 96 clearly belong to a third tradition of the manuscripts.

Four other collections are related to one another in a way which shows that they are surviving members of a fourth group: Cy, HK 2, O2, and P.2 Their general relationship is not, however, demonstrable from the poems in the present volume, since HK 2 pg liicontains only the epithalamion for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth (in a good text). The text of this poem in O2 and P seems to derive from the same source as that in HK 2; O2 and P also contain the Lincoln's Inn 'Epithalamion' in a text rather less good. Cy, O2, and P have the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham' and the two elegies on Mistress Bulstrode, clearly taken from the same near source. Cy opens with the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' (not in O2 and P), and its copyist may have included this from a separate text of the poem before beginning to transcribe his main collection; the manuscript peters out at l. 38 of 'A Valediction: of my Name in the Window', so that the scribe's main source might have contained other poems. None of the four manuscripts includes the Harington 'Obsequies'.

The other manuscript collections of Donne's poems seem to have no uniform relations to one another or to the groups just discussed. Most show signs of contamination of one tradition by another, and all have a good many erroneous or sophisticated readings. Several have been put together from a variety of sources. A 25, for example, was written by many copyists,1 the poems by Donne having been apparently acquired in batches (occasionally, perhaps, singly). Probably the earliest scribe to work in the manuscript wrote in three poems, one of which was the Harington 'Obsequies' (the letter accompanying which appears forty leaves later in a different hand). Another scribe copied the 'Elegy on Mrs. Bulstrode' ('Death I recant'), and yet another many of Donne's poems, including the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham' and the Epithalamion for Princess Elizabeth's wedding. The Epithalamion and 'Death I recant' have a mixed text, the primary source of which is impossible to determine; the copy of the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham' is most like that in Cy, O2, and P. Lines 110, 203–4, and 185–8 are omitted from the Harington 'Obsequies', and though JC also omits ll. 185–8 this is probably due to independent eye-slip on the part of the respective copyists, for the text in A 25 seems basically like that in S. A 25 illustrates very well the hazards that pg liiithreatened the text of Donne's poems in the compilation of manuscript collections of his work. JC opens with a poem by its first owner, John Cave, on Donne's Satires dated 3 June 1620; a copy of the manuscript, D 17, is dated 1625. Yet even by this time Cave had managed to assemble a collection that came from various sources, with a text which gives evidence of the influence of different traditions and which in one way or another has fallen into errors found nowhere else. His manuscript contains rather poor copies of the Epithalamion for Princess Elizabeth's marriage, the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham', and the Harington 'Obsequies'. S is dated at the end 19 July 1620, and includes the two epicedes on Mistress Bulstrode and 'Obsequies to the Lord Harington'. The variants in the text of these poems are not so numerous as to allow a certain judgement about the sources of the texts in S; but it follows in them the same pattern as in other poems it contains, its textual relations varying from poem to poem. The texts of the elegies on Mistress Bulstrode vary between those of O'F and Cy; in the Harington 'Obsequies' the basic text seems to be like that in Dob, but it has been contaminated with Group I readings. B, a much larger collection of Donne's poems (with the Paradoxes and Problems), obviously aiming at completeness, includes the three epithalamions and four epicedes (omitting the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' and the Hamilton 'Hymn'). The text is very careless, but seems basically that of Group III, in the epicedes resembling that of O'F and in the epithalamions that of Dob; like Dob, B omits ll. 226–35 of the Somerset 'Epithalamion'. Hd (which includes a poem on the death of Sir John Burroughs, 1627) offers fairly good texts of the epithalamions on Princess Elizabeth's marriage and on Somerset's (ll. 1–170 only), and of the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham'; in the elegy its text is like that in Cy, O2, P, in the epithalamions like that in Dob. Two other manuscripts are late. HK 1 was not copied much before 1640, but a section mainly of Donne's poems, each initialled 'L. C.', probably comes from a collection which antedates the earlier editions; it contains an extremely poor copy of the Harington 'Obsequies' and better texts of the 'Elegy upon the Death of Mistress Bulstrode' ('Language thou art too narrow') and the Somerset 'Epithalamion' pg liv(ll. 1–170). O1 has a poor text of the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham', the two elegies on Mistress Bulstrode, and the Harington 'Obsequies' (without the last ten lines, which were copied on the lost last leaf of the manuscript). One or more of the epithalamions and epicedes appear from time to time in miscellanies, and I have listed these at the beginning of the commentary on each poem; they are textually uninteresting, but give some indication of the extent to which each of the poems circulated.

Much more interesting are some copies made nearer to the dates of composition of various poems. William Drummond of Hawthornden obtained copies of some poems 'belonging' to Donne, and transcribed them in HN;1 the manuscript has good copies of the two elegies on Mistress Bulstrode. A somewhat expanded collection depending in part on the same source as HN is found in Wed,2 which, however, drops one elegy on Mistress Bulstrode ('Language thou art too narrow') and adds a respectable text of the 'Elegy on the Lady Markham'. Surviving copies of single poems bring us close to the manner in which Donne's verses on important occasions circulated in Court circles. One is a good text, unfortunately damaged, among the Conway papers (A 23), of the Somerset 'Epithalamion'; it is in the hand of Donne's friend Sir Henry Goodyer, who corresponded with Conway.3The other, also on a single leaf, is among the State papers of Sir Joseph Williamson in the Public Record Office: a text of the Hamilton 'Hymn' (S.P. 9/51).4 Though slightly damaged, the copy is almost entirely accurate. It was in very similar form that John Chamberlain saw the poem fairly soon after its composition; and Sir Robert Ker, for whom it was written, clearly lost little time in circulating Donne's tribute to Hamilton among the amateurs of poetry at Court.

Since (apart from the 'Epithalamion made at Lincoln's Inn') the epithalamions and epicedes were composed for patrons, it pg lvwould have been discourteous for Donne to have reissued them in a revised form, even if he desired to improve them. The manuscript copies, as might be expected, offer no evidence of revision. As the text of the holograph of Donne's verse letter to Lady Carey and her sister suggests, however, there might have occurred minor variations in separate copies which Donne made of any poem. It is highly improbable that the Rich sisters allowed a copy of the verse letter to be taken, or that any lover of poetry would have known of its existence; it seems clear that the copy lay undisturbed among the family papers until recent times. The manuscript texts of the letter must descend from a copy which Donne kept in his letter-book or among his papers. The two small variations in wording are of the kind which it is almost impossible to avoid when transcribing a text, especially, perhaps, if a poet is making another copy of his own work. It seems very probable that Donne also kept copies of the poems he wrote for great public occasions, and perhaps also of those he composed for the Countess of Bedford on the deaths of her friends and relatives. Variations in these copies may have found their way into manuscript collections, and I have included in the textual apparatus all variations which cannot be shown to be erroneous. It is possible to give a fair account of the variants by citing representative manuscripts; and I quote, for Group I, C 57 and H 49; for Group II, TCC, TCD, and a related text, L 74; for Group III, Dob and O'F; and in the Lincoln's Inn 'Epithalamion', W because of its good authority. The other manuscripts provide a general check on the readings quoted, sometimes by showing how error has occurred, and any point of interest in them is noted in the Commentary.


The editor (if indeed there was only one) of 1633 used his Group I manuscript for the epithalamions and epicedes which it contained. For his texts of the Lincoln's Inn 'Epithalamion', the 'Elegy upon the Death of Mistress Bulstrode' ('Language thou art too narrow'), the 'Elegy on Prince Henry', and the Hamilton 'Hymn', he went to a Group II manuscript. His Group I manuscript was clearly like C 57 and Lec, and it sometimes led pg lvithe editor into error; indeed, readings of 1633 supported only by C 57 and Lec must be rejected. The editor also emended his Group I copy from his Group II manuscript, and sometimes probably from another text, and, whatever his primary source, altered readings on his own initiative (sometimes mistakenly) to improve the sense. He was interested in the rhythm as well, and took care over elision marks.1 Indeed, the volume is remarkable for the evidence it provides of constant supervision even during printing, as is shown by the attention given to wording, punctuation, and elisions as the sheets passed through the press.

In the second edition of 1635, new poems were added, the contents were rearranged (under the headings which O'F took from Lut), and a considerable number of changes were made from the text of 1633. Among the titles added to poems (including some titles not found in any extant manuscript) was the inappropriate one, 'Elegie XI. Death', assigned to the epicede on Mistress Bulstrode beginning 'Language thou art too narrow' (which in 1633 had been entitled simply 'Elegie'). The connection of the edition with O'F is, however, very close; alterations to the text, although mostly to readings which O'F shares with other Group III (or in certain poems, Group II) manuscripts, are sometimes to a reading which is found only in Lut and O'F, or in O'F alone.2 It will be remembered that many readings in O'F itself had been corrected to those in 1633. The edition of 1635, therefore, cannot be regarded, in the main, as being substantive, being a reprint of the first edition conflated with readings from (O'F. It is sometimes useful, however, in punctuating the poems; and for three of the 'Elegies upon the Author' it provides the appropriate copy-text. The subsequent editions of Donne's Poems in the seventeenth century are of no interest to the editor of the poems in the present volume; their variants may be found, if required, in Grierson's edition.


The 'Elegy on Prince Henry' is in a special position. It is the only poem printed in Donne's lifetime from autograph which is pg lviialso transmitted independently in manuscripts. The text in the manuscript tradition is very probably descended from a copy of the poem which Donne kept among his papers. The copy which he sent, or, as Joshua Sylvester would have us believe, which found its way surreptitiously, to be included in the third edition (1613) of Lachrymae Lachrymarum,1 was presumably (like nearly all contemporary 'printer's copy') destroyed. Sylvester's volume, connected with a topic of great general interest, doubtless very soon went (as the scribe of Lut notes) out of print, and it was worth the while of collectors of Donne's poetry to transcribe this Elegy along with the rest of the poems available to them. I note in the apparatus to the poem any variants in the manuscript tradition which might conceivably have stood in a copy which Donne transcribed for himself. Since, however, the text in 1613 is that which he wished, or allowed, to be printed, I take it as the copy-text. Comparison with the first printed texts of the Anniversaries suggests that through Sylvester's vibrant typography one can frequently discern the spelling and punctuation used by Donne himself.


The Anniversaries are the only poems printed in Donne's lifetime with whose printing we can be certain that he was concerned.2 There are, as is to be expected with poems that their author sent to press, no manuscript copies whose witness has to be weighed against the witness of the printed text.3 These poems, therefore, require rather different editorial treatment from that required for posthumously printed poems where the text was derived from manuscript copies of the poet's works.

What became in the second edition The First Anniversary was first published in a small octavo volume entitled An Anatomy of the World, printed (probably by Humfrey Lownes the elder) for pg lviiiSamuel Macham in 1611.1 It appeared, under this title, in italic type, preceded by a poem 'To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy' (almost certainly by Joseph Hall), in roman type, and followed by Donne's 'A Funeral Elegy', also in roman type. The obvious care taken in the printing and proof-reading (four corrections being made while the book was being printed off2) makes it very probable that Donne himself passed the proofs before leaving for the Continent with the Drurys about the beginning of November 1611.3

The Second Anniversary ('Of the Progress of the Soul') was composed while Donne was in France with the Drurys and printed by the beginning of April 1612.4 It was published in a small octavo, and followed a reprint of the contents of the volume of 1611 provided with a new title-page which added the heading 'The First Anniversary' above the original title. The Second Anniversary was given a separate title-page and Donne's poem was preceded by 'The Harbinger to the Progress' by Joseph Hall.5 The publisher was again Samuel Macham, but the press-work was done by another printer, Melchisadec Bradwood. The typographical distinction of the edition of 1611 was reversed in 1612: the two Anniversaries were printed in roman type, the supplementary poems in italic.6 Marginal notes were supplied to both Anni-pg lixversaries, probably, though not certainly, on Donne's instructions. We may assume that the general title of Anniversaries given to the two main poems was Donne's.

The printing of the volume of 1612 was careless, and neither the printer nor Joseph Hall, who probably saw it through the press, made any attempt to correct its errors.1 One surviving copy, however, contains an errata slip.2 That this was compiled by Donne himself is suggested by the inclusion of seven errors in the text of The First Anniversary in addition to corrections of one in 'The Harbinger to the Progress' and of twenty in The Second Anniversary itself. The printer had set up his text of The First Anniversary and the poems that accompanied it directly from the edition of 1611, and would not presumably have had a manuscript of these poems to refer to; indeed, his lack of interest in the correctness of the text suggests that he would in any case have made no such reference. Furthermore, some of the corrections in the errata list (e.g. of 'then' to 'there', twice in the earlier poem, once in The Second Anniversary) cannot easily be attributed to anyone but the man who had written the manuscript, since a printer who had misread the words in the first place would hardly have been confident enough to correct errors in an errata slip, if indeed it could ever have occurred to him that he had made them. Only the author would have been likely to change 'Towres' in l. 262 of The First Anniversary (in both editions) to 'Townes', or 'Hydroptique' and 'to'rect' in The Second Anniversary (ll. 48, 417) to 'Hydropique' and 't'erect'. The errata slip fails to correct other errors; but the only plausible explanation for its existence is that on returning from the Continent early in September 1612 Donne himself noted some of the mistakes and insisted on the insertion of the slip in the unsold copies. This would account for the rarity of the errata slip and for the failure pg lxof the printers of the later seventeenth-century editions to make use of it.1

For The First Anniversary, 'A Funeral Elegy', and 'To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy', therefore, the 1611 edition is the only possible copy-text; and for The Second Anniversary and Hall's 'Harbinger to the Progress', the edition of 1612.2 The readings of the errata slip must, however, be accepted into the text. Otherwise, an editor has little to do but offer his author his services as press-reader and proof-corrector; except that changes in spelling and punctuation must be made sparingly, since the printed texts probably reflect Donne's own practice in the manuscripts supplied to the printer (for example, in the care—not complete—with which rhyming syllables are wherever possible spelt alike), and, where Donne's practice is apparently inconsistent, the editor will choose the alternative least distracting to a modern reader.

In this edition broken, turned, or wrong fount letters are silently corrected, contractions are silently expanded, and ligatures and digraphs are not reproduced. The use of u/v, i/j, vv, and long s is normalized to modern practice. Otherwise all variations from the copy-text, including the correction of actual misprints and of all errors corrected in the errata slip, are recorded in the apparatus. Some obvious errors that escaped the notice of the compiler of the errata slip have been corrected, and the use of contracted forms and marks of elision is made consistent in the relatively few places where this was necessary.3 The punctuation has required rather more correction. In most cases the alteration has the support of later editions, and is, I hope, obvious and self-justifying.

The Anniversaries with the accompanying poems were reprinted twice in Donne's lifetime, in 16214 and 1625. There is no evidence pg lxithat Donne himself took any interest in the text of these editions. Their variant readings have, therefore, no authority. The same is true of the variants in the text of the posthumous Poems of 1633. The editor of the edition of 1633 followed the practice of previous printers in using as his copy-text the most recent edition of the Anniversaries, that of 1625. Attempts were made to correct its errors, so that in addition to preserving misprints from previous editions the text of 1633 includes a number of editorial sophistications, where a more or less intelligent guess has been made at what would give a required sense. But although editions subsequent to 1611 and 1612 are of no value in establishing the text, their readings have been recorded in the apparatus. The text of 1633 has historic importance as the first collected edition of Donne's poems and the source of all later editions, and it was the basis of Grierson's text, the textus receptus. Inclusion of its readings makes it necessary to include the readings of the intermediate editions of 1621 and 1625, since many of the readings of 1633 derive from them or are attempts to correct them. In this section of this edition I depart from the practice of recording in the apparatus only readings that merit consideration. A complete collation of the editions allows those interested to see the editor of 1633 at work on an extant source. His care and good sense are apparent in making obvious corrections of the errors in 1625, his corrections often restoring the original reading and, on occasion, agreeing with the errata slip. On other occasions we see him making guesses of varying merit. Readings from editions subsequent to 1633 are not recorded,1 with the exception that the readings of Grierson's text are noted wherever it differs substantially from the text in this edition.


The copy-text for each of the poems is the first printed text. Apart from the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' and the Anniversaries (and three of the 'Elegies upon the Author'), this is the text of 1633. While 1633 is superior to any single manuscript, however, pg lxiiit must be corrected from the manuscripts, where it misprints or has obviously misread the 'copy'. In addition, readings in which 1633 follows C 57 and Lec against the other manuscripts of Group I must be regarded as errors derived from the Group I manuscript used in compiling 1633, and must be corrected. Further, any readings in 1633 that do not have manuscript support must be regarded as editorial emendations and (unless the reasons that would appear to have swayed the first editor are still valid) must be rejected. The careful printing of 1633, which follows the best contemporary practice, makes it a good model; readings adopted into the text are regularized to the editor's practice elsewhere in the edition; and where he has failed to be consistent I have tried to achieve uniformity.

In printing all the poems, from whatever printed source, I follow the spelling and usually the punctuation of the copy-text, but abandon long s and ligatures; printers' contractions have been expanded; the use of i/j, u/v, and vv is normalized to modern practice. In titles the typography is regularized. The lavish use of italic and upper-case letters in Sylvester's text (1613) of the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' has been abandoned in favour of the general practice of 1633. It is clear from the holograph of Donne's verse letter to Lady Carey and her sister that he punctuated fairly heavily, and wished his poems to be read slowly, with pauses for the full effect of the phrasing to be appreciated. I have tried to benefit from this example, though in the main I have emended the punctuation sparingly; for the changes I have made there is nearly always warrant in one or more of the more careful manuscripts or in editions later than 1633. For some suggestions I am indebted to Grierson, who had a sensitive understanding of seventeenth-century punctuation.

In the textual apparatus I name the copy-text for each poem and the printed or manuscript texts from which variant readings are given. Where a manuscript has been corrected by someone after the scribe had finished his copying I give the original reading, adding '(b.c.)', that is, 'before correction'; with reference to O'F the meaning is 'before its correction to the reading of 1633'. The manuscripts from which readings are given have been chosen pg lxiiito represent the groups in which the poem is found, or the main traditions of the text. I have adopted Grierson's convenient siglum TC to show that the reading of TCD is also that of TCC; when they differ I quote each separately. In quoting variants I give the spelling of the first manuscript named (normalizing the use of u and v), unless the reading has been adopted into the text; differences of spelling among the manuscripts are ignored, unless there is some point in recording them. The apparatus notes all variations from the copy-text. It also seeks to record, in the form of group readings, any variation in the text which could possibly be authentic. To this end it has been pruned of readings that can be proved wrong, and as far as possible of scribal errors and sophistications. Where there is any doubt, however, I have preferred not to be dogmatic, but to present the evidence to the reader's judgement. Readings of the early collected editions later than the first are not given, having been based on those in 1635, the nature of whose text is shown in Appendix A. I quote readings from Grierson's edition of 1912 (Gr), however, where it differs from mine.

Variations made in the copy-texts as the sheets were being printed are also recorded in the apparatus. Such variations are fairly numerous in 1633 and often affect small details easy to miss without some aid to the wearying human eye. I am, therefore, most grateful to Mr. Alan MacColl for allowing me to use the results of his comparison of thirteen copies of 1633 for press variants on the collating machine at the British Library.1 Some of the changes made in the edition seem to me to have been ill advised, and I occasionally prefer the reading of the uncorrected state.

In the Commentary I list all the texts in which, so far as I know, a particular poem is to be found.2 Variants of the title are discussed, pg lxivin order to avoid cluttering the textual apparatus. Textual matters are dealt with near the beginning of the commentary on each poem so that readers not interested in the subject may avoid the discussions of them. The notes on the poems are as full as considerations of space decently allow. Those on the 'Elegies upon the Author', however, are restricted to points which might interest students, not of the writers of the elegies, but of Donne himself.


1 See the facsimile, with commentary by Helen Gardner, published by the Bodleian Library and the Scolar Press in 1972, and the discussion by N. Barker, The Book Collector, xxii (1973), 487–93. The holograph is Bodleian MS. Eng. Poet. d. 197.

1 For a key to sigla, shelf-marks, and present locations of manuscripts, see the list on pp. lxv–lvii. The Group I manuscripts are described in Gardner, Divine Poems, pp. lvii–lxvi, and Elegies etc., pp. lxiv–lxv; see also Margaret Crum, 'Notes on the Physical Characteristics of Some Manuscripts of the Poems of Donne and of Henry King', The Library (June 1961).

1 For a fuller discussion of H 40, see Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. lxv–lxvii.

2 The Group II manuscripts are described in Gardner, Divine Poems, pp. lxvi–lxvii, and Elegies etc., p. lxvii. I follow Grierson in using the siglum TC for readings shared by TCC and TCD.

3 See Alan MacColl, Essays in Criticism, xvii (1967) at p. 259, and 'The Circulation of Donne's Poems in Manuscript' in John Donne: Essays in Celebration, ed. A. J. Smith (London, 1972), pp. 32–5. Donne's apprehensions at the prospect of extensive travels (Bald, pp. 341–5) led him to send to Ker his own copy of Biathanatos and 'the Poems, of which you took a promise' (Letters, p. 21). William Drummond, writing to Ker in 1621, says that he will continue corresponding 'so long as Daniell lastes (who, dying as I heare, bequeathed to you his scrolls) or Done, who in his travells lefte you his' (Correspondence of Sir Robert Ker, first Earl of Ancram, ed. D. Laing (Edinburgh, 1875), i. 24).

4 L 74 is described by Grierson, ii. civ–cv, and in Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. lxviii–lxx.

1 See the discussion of DC in Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. lxx–lxxi, lxxxviii, where the conclusion reached is that 'Its connexions must be with the manuscript that provided the copy for 1633 at a stage before the "editor" had made his final corrections and improvements.'

2 For descriptions of these manuscripts, see Gardner, Divine Poems, pp. lxix–lxxiv, and Elegies etc., pp. lxxi–lxxv.

1 See Appendix A.

2 See Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. lxxv–lxxviii. HK 2 is the second part of the Haslewood-Kingsborough manuscript, the earlier-written and textually more interesting collection. Both HK 2 and HK 1 contain collections of Donne's poems within a miscellany of verse by other writers.

1 See Grierson, ii. clii–cliii, and Gardner, Elegies etc., pp. lxxviii–lxxix. C consists of passages selected from the texts in A 25.

1 See Milgate, Satires etc., pp. li–lii.

2 Wed was first described by A. MacColl, 'A New Manuscript of Donne's poems', R.E.S., n.s. xix (1968).

3 Letters, p. 34. The handwriting was identified as Goodyer's by Mr. A. MacColl, in his thesis, 'The Circulation of Donne's Poems in Manuscript' (1967), in the Bodleian Library.

4 First noted by B. W. Whitlock, 'A Note on Two Donne Manuscripts', Renaissance News, xviii (1965).

1 See the 'Note on Versification', p. 108.

2 See Appendix A.

1 See the commentary on the poem, p. 190.

2 The Latin verses on Volpone were printed with the play in 1607, the verses on Coryat in the Crudities (1611) and in The Odcombian Banquet (1611), and the 'Elegy on Prince Henry' in Sylvester's volume. Three of the Songs and Sonnets were printed in song-books. In none of these cases can we assume that Donne had any concern with the printing.

3 There is a copy of 'A Funeral Elegy' in a Bodleian manuscript, Eng. Poet. e 37, but the text is taken from the edition of 1621; ll. 1–8 and 75–6 of the poem are copied into Brit. Lib. MS. Harley 3991 also from a printed text.

1 Only two copies are known to have survived, each in different ways defective; one is in the Henry E. Huntington Library, the other in the collection of Sir Geoffrey Keynes. By combining pages from the two copies and repairing a deficiency in both with a wood-block used elsewhere by Macham, Sir Geoffrey was able to make a perfect facsimile, published for the Roxburghe Club (1951); see the Postscript to this facsimile, and Keynes, Bibliography, pp. 171–80.

2 See ll. 117, 133, 237, and 385.

3 Sir Arthur Throckmorton received his copy of the book from London on 21 November (A. L. Rowse, Raleigh and the Throckmortons (1962), p. 288). Donne was very careful of accuracy in the printing of works he published later (see E. M. Simpson, 'A Note on Donne's Punctuation', R.E.S. iv. 1928), and was presumably not less punctilious here. For the dates and circumstances of composition of the poems, see the General Introduction, pp. xxix–xxxiii.

4 Donne refers to criticisms of his Anniversaries in a letter to George Garrard from Paris, dated 14. April 1612 (Letters, pp. 237–9). His use of the word 'Anniversaries' makes it clear that it is the volume of 1612 and not An Anatomy of the World of 1611 that he is defending.

5 Jonson told Drummond that Joseph Hall was 'the Herbenger to Dones Anniversarie' (Works, i. 149). It seems safe to assume with Grierson that he also wrote the poem 'To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy', prefacing An Anatomy of the World. For Hall's relations with Donne, see the General Introduction, pp. xxx–xxxi.

6 Grierson wrongly stated that 'The Praise of the Dead' as well as An Anatomy of the World were in italic in 1611 and went on to suppose that both were regarded as merely introductory to 'A Funeral Elegy' in roman, but that when the idea of Anniversary poems emerged these were regarded as the main works and printed in roman and the other poems in italic. The most probable explanation of the change in 1612 is shortage of italic type.

1 The only variation I have noticed is in the last line of p. 2 (A5v), where, instead of 'there is', the copy in the Folger Shakespeare Library reads 'therei s'; this may be due either to a movement of the type or to the casual adjustment of an error in type-setting during the printing of the book.

2 First noted by Mr. John Sparrow, T.L.S. (29 June 1946), p. 312. Grierson replied in the issue of 20 July 1946. Six of the seven surviving copies are in United States libraries; that containing the errata slip is in the collection of Sir Geoffrey Keynes. Keynes adds a seventh copy (in the library of R. S. Pirie) to the six listed by Manley. The slip is reproduced in Keynes, f. p. 172.

1 Manley, pp. 53–5.

2 These are represented in the apparatus and Commentary by the sigla 1611 and 1612.

3 In the 580 lines of The First Anniversary and 'A Funeral Elegy' it has been necessary to make a contraction only on six occasions and to supply an elision mark between words on eight. In the 528 lines of The Second Anniversary fifteen contracted forms and fifteen elision marks have been supplied. The difference supports the view that Donne oversaw the printing of the edition of 1611, and that in writing out his poems for the press he was careful to indicate contracted forms and elisions.

4 The Bodleian copy of the edition of 1621 has some interesting but unauthoritative annotations.

1 Readings from editions from 1635 to 1669 may be found, if required, in Manley, pp. 109–12.

1 The copies are those in the British Library (2), Bodleian Library (2), All Souls, Balliol, Brasenose, Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Queen's, St. John's, Wadham, and Worcester Colleges, Oxford.

2 I have inspected most of them, but for a few I rely on photographs or on reports from those who have been able to examine the manuscripts, notably Professor J. T. Shawcross, who has a valuable list in his edition of The Complete Poetry of John Donne (New York, 1967), and Mr. A. MacColl, who kindly lent me a list which he had made for his own purposes.

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