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John Donne

W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters

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To Sir Henry Goodyere

  • 1Who makes the Past, a patterne for next yeare,
  • Critical Apparatus2       Turnes no new leafe, but still the same things reads,
  • 3Seene things, he sees againe, heard things doth heare,
  • Editor’s Note4  And makes his life, but like a paire of beads.
  • 5A Palace, when 'tis that, which it should be,
  • Critical Apparatus6  Leaves growing, and stands such, or else decayes:
  • 7But hee which dwels there, is not so; for hee
  • Critical Apparatus8  Strives to urge upward, and his fortune raise;
  • Editor’s Note9So had your body'her morning, hath her noone,
  • 10  And shall not better; her next change is night:
  • Editor’s Note11But her faire larger guest, to'whom Sun and Moone
  • 12  Are sparkes, and short liv'd, claimes another right.
  • pg 79Editor’s Note21Would you redeeme it? then your selfe transplant
  • Editor’s Note22  A while from hence. Perchance outlandish ground
  • Critical Apparatus23Beare no more wit, then ours, but yet more scant
  • 24  Are those diversions there, which here abound.
  • 29Our soule, whose country'is heaven, and God her father,
  • 30  Into this world, corruptions sinke, is sent,
  • 31Yet, so much in her travaile she doth gather,
  • 32  That she returnes home, wiser then she went;
  • Editor’s Note33It payes you well, if it teach you to spare,
  • 34  And make you'asham'd, to make your hawks praise, yours,
  • 35Which when herselfe she lessens in the aire,
  • 36  You then first say, that high enough she toures.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus37Howsoever, keepe the lively tast you hold
  • 38  Of God, love him as now, but feare him more,
  • 39And in your afternoones thinke what you told
  • 40  And promis'd him, at morning prayer before.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
To Sir Henry Goodyere. MSS.: C 57, H 49; TC; Dob, O'F. Title from 1633,Σ:To Sr. H. G. moveing him to Travell. TC: To Sr. Henry Goodyeere moving … travell. O'F.
Critical Apparatus
2 things] thinge Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 4. paire: a set or 'string' (of beads); O.E.D. II. 6.
Critical Apparatus
6 decayes:] decayes, 1633
Critical Apparatus
8 upward] upwards TC
fortune] fortunes TC, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 9. body: the soul's 'Palace'.
Editor’s Note
ll. 9–10. morningnoonenight. Similarly Shakespeare, Sonnet vii.
Editor’s Note
l. 11. guest: the soul. Cf. 'The Progress of the Soul', l. 159, and note (p. 179).
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–14. Cf. Davies, Nosce Teipsum, 1599 (Works, ed. Grosart, 1876, i. 99):
  • But to the Soule Time doth perfections give,
  •   And adds fresh lustre to her beauty still;
  • And makes her in eternall youth to live,
  •   Like her which nectar to the gods doth fill.
  • The more she lives, the more she feeds on Truth;
  •   The more she feeds, her strength doth more increase:
  • And what is strength, but an effect of youth?
  •   What if Time nurse, how can it ever cease?
Editor’s Note
ll. 15–17. to pamper her With womens milke, etc. The allusion is to St. Paul's antithesis of milk for babes and meat for men. Cf. note (p. 180) on l. 188 of 'The Progress of the Soul', and Heb. v. 12–14, the last verse of which reads: 'But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.'
Critical Apparatus
16 the] her TC, Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 16. the end. The reading of Groups II and III, 'her end', is wrong, since the soul does not have an 'end', being immortal. 'The end' means 'the end of our earthly life'.
Critical Apparatus
17 dyet;] dyet, 1633
Critical Apparatus
20 harvests] harvest O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 20. In harvests, etc.: His garners are not as full as they should be, because he has neglected harvesting for play. Goodyer's extravagance and perpetual lack of money were notorious.
Editor’s Note
l. 21. it: your general situation.
Editor’s Note
l. 22. outlandish: foreign.
Critical Apparatus
23 no] not H 49, TC, Dob
Editor’s Note
ll. 25–26. To be a stranger, etc. To be a foreigner in another country has the advantage that, being confronted with strange customs, we can abandon them after sampling them ('beginnings'); we cannot abandon the old habits ingrained in us at home.
Critical Apparatus
27 Goe;] Goe, 1633
Hence] hence 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 27. 'Goe' is Donne's urging; 'whither' is Goodyer's imagined question: to which Donne replies, in effect, 'Anywhere, as long as you travel hence, away from temptation; if you can forget your present ways, it will be all to your profit.'
Critical Apparatus
28 in] to Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l.28. prescribe: generally, 'dictate', 'direct', 'take charge' (O.E.D. I. 2. c). Donne is, however, using the word in a precise legal sense (O.E.D. II. 6), 'make a claim by prescription', i.e. because of use or possession from time immemorial (as here), sometimes for a fixed period. The right of sins to assert a claim over us has existed, as it were, from the time of Adam's fall.
Editor’s Note
ll. 33–36. The money Goodyer spends on travel is worth the cost if it teaches him thrift and to be ashamed of being praised for what he praises in his hawks. When a hawk diminishes itself in the air we praise it for soaring to the right place (but this is not praiseworthy in men; and Goodyer has diminished himself, 'lessened' his estate, by extravagance—soaring too high).
The comparison is forced, but appropriate to Goodyer. Donne refers to his love of hawking in an undated letter: 'God send you Hawks and fortunes of a high pitch' (Letters, p. 204). Jonson was a 'witnesse of thy few dayes sport' as a member of a hawking-party at Polesworth (Epigram lxxxv; Works, viii. 55).
toures: the technical term for the circular flight of the hawk to the 'place' from which it 'stoops'.
Critical Apparatus
37 Howsoever C 57, H 49, TC: Howsever Dob: Howsoe're O'F: However 1633, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 37. Howsoever: the more 'difficult' reading, pronounced (as the spelling in Dob suggests) 'hows'ever'.
Critical Apparatus
42 froward.] froward; 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 42. Else be not froward: 'let nothing else (but falsehood) make you belligerent'.
touch: touch upon.
Critical Apparatus
44 Fables Σ: Tables 1633, C 57, Gr
or] and Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 44. Fables. Donne refers to morals drawn from fables in 'Satire V', ll. 88–89, and 'The Calm', ll. 3–4. 'Tables' was an error in the Group I manuscript used in setting up the text of 1633. It is, of course, a possible reading, the 'tables' being pictures or moralized emblems. The two words are easily mistaken for one another, however, and the manuscript evidence is heavily in favour of 'Fables'.
fruit-trenchers: also called 'roundells'. These, and trenchers for other use, were usually ornamented with moral maxims or with texts ('Give us this day our daily bread', etc.). For a discussion, and illustration of some examples, see J. Y. Akerman, Archaeologia, xxxiv, 1852. Puttenham, discussing short epigrams (The Art of English Poesy, ed. Willcock and Walker, p. 58), says: ''we call them Posies, and do paint them now a dayes upon the backe sides of our fruite trenchers of wood.'
Critical Apparatus
45 make] made TC
Critical Apparatus
48 with mee to] to mee at TC
Editor’s Note
l. 48. Tou came with mee, etc. Cf. 'An Epistle is collocutio scripta, saies Saint Ambrose [Migne, P.L. xvi. 1151; also 1285], Though it be written far off, and sent, yet it is a Conference, and seperatos copulat, sayes hee; by this meanes wee overcome distances, we deceive absences, and wee are together even then when wee are asunder' (Sermons, i. 285).
Micham. Mitcham, a village in Surrey, where Donne spent about six years in considerable misery, ill health, and frustration of hopes of employment. This letter might have accompanied or replaced one of the prose letters he sent regularly each Tuesday to Goodyer (see Letters, pp. 66, 85, etc.).
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