John Donne

Helen Gardner (ed.), John Donne: The Divine Poems (Second Edition)

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  • Editor’s Note1Show me deare Christ, thy spouse, so bright and cleare.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus2    What, is it she, which on the other shore
  • 3Goes richly painted? or which rob'd and tore
  • 4Laments and mournes in Germany and here?
  • 5Sleepes she a thousand, then peepes up one yeare?
  • Critical Apparatus6Is she selfe truth and errs? now new, now'outwore?
  • 7Doth she,'and did she, and shall she evermore
  • Editor’s Note8On one, on seaven, or on no hill appeare?
  • Editor’s Note9Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
  • 10First travaile we to seeke and then make love?
  • 11Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights,
  • Editor’s Note12And let myne amorous soule court thy mild Dove,
  • 13Who is most trew, and pleasing to thee, then
  • 14When she'is embrac'd and open to most men. (xviii)

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Editor’s Note
l. 1. thy spouse, so bright and cleare. Cf. Rev. xix. 7–8: 'The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white ('splendenti et candido', Vulgate; 'pure fyne lynen cloth and shining', Geneva).
Critical Apparatus
2. 2 What,] What MS.
Editor’s Note
l. 2. What, is it she. The MS. has no stop after 'What'. I have inserted a comma for Grierson's exclamation mark, since it seems unlikely a scribe would miss an exclamation mark. There is no justification for singling out this 'she' from the other 'she's' of the sonnet by giving it a capital, as Gosse, followed by Grierson and Hayward, did.
'What' is an exclamation of astonishment, introducing a series of rhetorical questions, expecting a negative answer.
Critical Apparatus
6 now'] now MS.
Editor’s Note
l. 8. On one, on seaven, or on no bill. The 'one hill' is Mount Moriah, where Solomon built the Temple. There was dispute between the Jews who worshipped there, and the Samaritans, who worshipped on Mount Gerizim; cf. Christ's words to the woman of Samaria: 'The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father' (John, iv. 21). The Church on seven hills is the Roman Church, and the Church on no hill' is the Genevan; cf. 'The Word of God is not above thee, says Moses, nor beyond the Sea. We need not clime up seven hills, nor wash our selves seven times in a Lake for it' (Sermons, iv. 107); and 'Trouble not thy selfe to know the formes and fashions of forraine particular Churches; neither of a Church in the lake, nor a Church upon seven hils' (Sermons, v. 251).
Editor’s Note
ll. 9–10. Dwells she with us &c. Two conceptions of the Church are given here in terms of two conceptions of love—the domestic and the romantic. Donne had not much sympathy with the latter; and allusions to medieval romance are very rare in his poetry.
Editor’s Note
l. 12. thy mild Dove. Cf. Song of Sol. v. 2: 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.'
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