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

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Critical ApparatusCritical ApparatusAn Epithalamion, or Mariage Song onthe Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatinebeing married on St. Valentines Day



  • 15  Till now, Thou warmd'st with multiplying loves
  • Critical Apparatus16         Two larkes, two sparrowes, or two Doves;
  • 17         All that is nothing unto this,
  • Editor’s Note18  For thou this day couplest two Phoenixes,
  • 19         Thou mak'st a Taper see
  • Editor’s Note20  What the sunne never saw, and what the Arke
  • 21  (Which was of foules, and beasts, the cage, and park,)
  • 22  Did not containe, one bed containes, through Thee,
  • 23         Two Phoenixes, whose joyned breasts
  • 24  Are unto one another mutuall nests,
  • Critical Apparatus25  Where motion kindles such fires, as shall give
  • Critical Apparatus26  Yong Phoenixes, and yet the old shall live;
  • Editor’s Note27  Whose love and courage never shall decline,
  • 28But make the whole year through, thy day, O Valentine.


  • Editor’s Note29  Up then faire Phoenix Bride, frustrate the Sunne,
  • 30          Thy selfe from thine affection
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus31          Tak'st warmth enough, and from thine eye
  • Critical Apparatus32  All lesser birds will take their jollitie.
  • 33           Up, up, faire Bride, and call,
  • 34  Thy starres, from out their severall boxes, take
  • 35  Thy Rubies, Pearles, and Diamonds forth, and make
  • 36  Thy selfe a constellation, of them All,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus37         And by this blazing, signifie,
  • 38  That a Great Princess falls, but doth not die;
  • Editor’s Note39  Bee thou a new starre, that to us portends
  • Critical Apparatus40  Ends of much wonder; And be Thou those ends.
  • 41  Since thou dost this day in new glory shine,
  • Editor’s Note42May all men date Records, from this thy Valentine.

pg 8 IV

  • 43  Come forth, come forth, and as one glorious flame
  • Critical Apparatus44         Meeting another, growes the same,
  • Editor’s Note45         So meet thy Fredericke, and so
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus46  To an unseparable union growe.
  • 47           Since separation
  • 48  Falls not on such things as are infinite,
  • Critical Apparatus49  Nor things which are but one, can disunite,
  • 50  You'are twice inseparable, great, and one;
  • 51         Goe then to where the Bishop staies,
  • Editor’s Note52  To make you one, his way, which divers waies
  • 53  Must be effected; and when all is past,
  • 54  And that you'are one, by hearts and hands made fast,
  • 55  You two have one way left, your selves to'entwine,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus56Besides this Bishops knot, or Bishop Valentine.


  • 57  But oh, what ailes the Sunne, that here he staies,
  • 58         Longer to day, then other daies?
  • Critical Apparatus59         Staies he new light from these to get?
  • 60  And finding here such store, is loth to set?
  • 61           And why doe you two walke,
  • Editor’s Note62  So slowly pac'd in this procession?
  • 63  Is all your care but to be look'd upon,
  • 64  And be to others spectacle, and talke?
  • 65         The feast, with gluttonous delaies,
  • 66  Is eaten, and too long their meat they praise,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus67  The masquers come too late, and'I thinke, will stay,
  • 68  Like Fairies, till the Cock crow them away.
  • 69  Alas, did not Antiquity assigne
  • 70A night, as well as day, to thee, O Valentine?

pg 9 VI

  • 71  They did, and night is come; and yet wee see
  • 72          Formalities retarding thee.
  • 73          What meane these Ladies, which (as though
  • 74  They were to take a clock in peeces,) goe
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus75           So nicely'about the Bride;
  • 76  A Bride, before a good night could be said,
  • 77  Should vanish from her cloathes, into her bed,
  • 78  As Soules from bodies steale, and are not spy'd.
  • Critical Apparatus79          But now she'is laid; What though shee bee?
  • 80  Yet there are more delayes, For, where is he?
  • Critical Apparatus81  He comes, and passes through Spheare after Spheare,
  • 82  First her sheetes, then her Armes, then any where.
  • Critical Apparatus83  Let not then this day, but this night be thine,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus84Thy day was but the eve to this, O Valentine.


  • Editor’s Note85  Here lyes a shee Sunne, and a hee Moone here,
  • Editor’s Note86          She gives the best light to his Spheare,
  • 87          Or each is both, and all, and so
  • 88  They unto one another nothing owe,
  • 89           And yet they doe, but are
  • 90  So just and rich in that coyne which they pay,
  • Critical Apparatus91  That neither would, nor needs forbeare, nor stay;
  • 92  Neither desires to be spar'd, nor to spare,
  • 93           They quickly pay their debt, and then
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus94  Take no acquittances, but pay again;
  • Editor’s Note95  They pay, they give, they lend, and so let fall
  • 96  No such occasion to be liberall.
  • 97  More truth, more courage in these two do shine,
  • Editor’s Note98Then all thy turtles have, and sparrows, Valentine.

pg 10 VIII

  • 99  And by this act of these two Phenixes
  • Editor’s Note100          Nature againe restored is,
  • Critical Apparatus101          For since these two, are two no more,
  • 102  Ther's but one Phenix still, as was before.
  • 103            Rest now at last, and wee
  • Editor’s Note104  As Satyres watch the Sunnes uprise, will stay
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus105  Waiting, when your eyes open'd, let out day,
  • 106  Onely desir'd, because your face wee see;
  • 107          Others neare you shall whispering speake,
  • Editor’s Note108  And wagers lay, at which side day will breake,
  • 109  And win by'observing, then, whose hand it is
  • 110  That opens first a curtaine, hers or his;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus111  This will be try'd to morrow after nine,
  • Editor’s Note112Till which houre, wee thy day enlarge, O Valentine.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
An Epithalamion etc. MSS.: C 57, H 49; TCD; Dob, O'F. Title from 1633, C 57: … and Fredericke count …, beeing St. … H 49: Epithalamium TCD: Vpon the marriage of the Prince Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth on … Dob: Vpon Frederick Count Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth maryed on … O'F
Editor’s Note
ll. 1–16. Grierson notes the general resemblance of this passage to Chaucer's Parlement of Foules, ll. 309 ff.
Editor’s Note
l. 1. Bishop Valentine. One of two saints named Valentine whose feast day was 14 February was a martyred Bishop of Terni.
Editor’s Note
l. 2. All the Aire is thy Diocis. The traditional belief that birds mate on St. Valentine's Day suggested that St. Valentine had charge of the air in which they fly.
Critical Apparatus
6 lirique] Lirique 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 7. The Sparrow that neglects his life for love. The lechery of the sparrow was proverbial; its shortness of life was supposed to be due to its lustfulness. Cf. 'The Progress of the Soul', ll. 193–211, and notes in Milgate, Satires etc., pp. 180–1.
Editor’s Note
l. 8. stomacher: waistcoat.
Critical Apparatus
9 Blackbird] black bird 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 9. speed: achieve success. Black was supposed to be a forbidding and ill-omened colour; but under St. Valentine's care differences between ugly and beautiful birds do not count.
Editor’s Note
l. 10. Halcyon: the kingfisher, suggesting brightness because of its plumage.
Critical Apparatus
11 Cocke] cocke 1633
straight] soone Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 11. sped: 'successfully accommodated'; cf. 'speed', l. 9.
Critical Apparatus
13 shine,] shine. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 14. Old Valentine. Cf. Jonson, A Tale of a Tub, 1. i. 1, 'old Bishop Valentine'. Lines 1–7 of Jonson's play borrow extensively from this stanza.
Critical Apparatus
16 Doves;] Doves, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 18. two Phoenixes. Only one phoenix was supposed to exist at a time; it reproduced itself by setting itself afire ('enflaming') and rising again from its ashes (cf. ll. 27–6).
Editor’s Note
ll. 20–2. what the Arke … Did not containe. Since Noah was commanded to take into the Ark 'two of every sort' of every living thing (Gen. vi. 19–20, vii. 9), the phoenix, being unique, could not have been 'contained' in the Ark. It was, however, a problem for Biblical commentators how the phoenix survived the Flood. Pererius (Comment. et Disput. in Genesim, 1601, ii. 466–7) discusses the matter and concludes that if the phoenix existed 'nullus fuit in arca Noë Phoenix'; if it did not survive the Flood, it was renewed by a special act of creation. See D.C. Allen, 'Donne's Phoenix', M.L.N. lxii (1947), 340–2.
Critical Apparatus
25 Where] Whose Dob, O'F (b.c.)
Critical Apparatus
26 live;] live. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 27. courage: desire, 'sexual vigour and inclination' (O.E.D., sb. I. 3. e); as in l. 97.
Editor’s Note
l. 29. frustrate: 'render ineffectual' (O.E.D. v. I. 2); i.e. by anticipating and outshining the sun's rising (cf. l. 85).
Critical Apparatus
31 Tak'st] Takest 1633
Editor’s Note
l.31. from thine eye. Cf.:
And as the sun, which is the heart of the universe, sends out from its orbit its light, and through its light its own strength to lower things; so the heart … pours spirits through the whole body, and through them sparks of light through the various single parts, but especially through the eyes. … [The eye] throws missiles of its own light into near-by eyes. (Marsilio Ficino's Commentary on Plato's Symposium, trans. S. R. Jayne, U. of Missouri Studies, xix. 1 (1944), p. 222.)
Of the six powers of the soul pertaining to cognition, reason is assigned to supreme divinity, 'sight to fire' (ibid., p. 165).
Critical Apparatus
32 jollitie] Jollitie 1633
Critical Apparatus
37 this H 49, TCD, Dob, O'F (b.c.): their 1633, C 57, Gr
Editor’s Note
ll. 37–8. by this blazing, signifie, etc. Comets were thought to presage the death of a prince (or some other notable disaster); cf. Julius Caesar, 11. ii. 30–1:
  • When beggars die there are no comets seen:
  • The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
Editor’s Note
l. 39. new starre. See note (p. 143) to The First Anniversary, ll. 259–60.
Critical Apparatus
40 ends.] ends, 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 42. all men date Records. The most notable new star was that which led the Wise Men to Bethlehem at Christ's nativity, from which event, in the Christian world, records are dated (in years A.D.).
this thy Valentine. This phrase (which troubled the scribe of JC and the compiler of 1669, who have 'this day, Valentine') seems to mean simply 'this thy Valentine's day, the day on which you married'.
Critical Apparatus
44 another] Another 1633
Editor’s Note
ll. 45–50. I follow Grierson in strengthening the stop after 'growe' (l. 46), as in most MSS. The punctuation in 1633 comes from its Group I MS., which resembled C 57 and Lec. The clause 'Since separation … can disunite' clearly belongs to what follows, and explains l. 50.
Robert Gould borrowed from this stanza in stanza ii of his 'Mirrilla and Amynta: A Hymeneal Pindaric Poem …', published in his Works, 1709; stanza v of the same poem is based on the 'Epithalamion made at Lincoln's Inn'. See English Epithalamies, ed. R. H. Case (1896), pp. xlii, 178.
Critical Apparatus
46 growe H 49, TCD, Dob, O'F: goe 1633 (with comma), C 57
Editor’s Note
l. 46. growe. Grierson rightly rejected the reading 'goe' in 1633, which was an error in the Group I MS. used by the editor. Both words, 'Meeting' and 'growes' in l. 44 are thus echoed in ll. 45–6 ('meet', 'growe').
Critical Apparatus
49 disunite,] disunite. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 52. his way: the sacrament of marriage (as distinct from their love for each other and their sexual union).
Critical Apparatus
56 or MSS.: O 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 56. or. The reading of 1633 ('O') seems to be an inept emendation by the editor, who did not follow the thought. 'Bishop Valentine has paired them; the Bishop in church has united them; the consummation is their own act' (Grierson).
Critical Apparatus
59 these] thee TCD, Dob
Editor’s Note
l. 62. procession: four syllables.
Critical Apparatus
67 too late 1633, C 57, H 49: late TCD, Dob, O'F
Editor’s Note
l. 67. masquers: guests taking part in the wedding-masque, probably that by Thomas Campion, performed on the night of the wedding (The Lorde's Mask). M. Novak suggests that ll. 67 ff. of Donne's poem were influenced by the last song in Campion's masque ('The cocks alreadie crow', etc.) (N. and Q. cc (1955), PP. 471–2).
too late. The reading of 1633 and Group I is supported in JC and S 96. The omission of 'too' in other MSS. seems to have been due to independent sophistication for the sake of the metre.
Critical Apparatus
75 nicely'about] nicely about 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 75. nicely: carefully, meticulously.
Critical Apparatus
79 she'is] she is 1633
Critical Apparatus
81–2 Spheare, … where. ] Spheare. … where, 1633
Critical Apparatus
83 then this day C 57, H 49, TCD: this day, then 1633, Dob, Gr: this day O'F
Critical Apparatus
84 the] thy C 57, H 49, TCD
Editor’s Note
l. 84. eve: the time of preparation for a festival, usually the day before it.
Editor’s Note
l. 85. Here lyes a shee Sunne, etc. The sexes usually assigned to sun and moon are reversed, to emphasize the point; the two interchange their natures (l. 87). Cf. the Somerset 'Epithalamion', ll. 120–5.
Editor’s Note
l. 86. the best light to his Spheare. Like the sun, the main source of light in the heavens, which gives its light to the moon.
Critical Apparatus
91 nor stay] or stay Dob, O'F
stay;] stay, 1633
Critical Apparatus
94 acquittances TCD, Dob, O'F: acquittance 1633, C 57, H 49
Editor’s Note
l. 94. acquittances: 'Acquitance, is a discharge in writing of a summe of money, or other duitie which ought to be payed or done' (J. Rastell, The Exposition ofTermes of the Lawes, 1609, f. 11r).
Editor’s Note
ll. 95–6. let fall … liberall: lose no opportunity to bestow such joys on each other.
Editor’s Note
l. 98. turtles: turtle-doves, types of conjugal affection and constancy (O.E.D.), hence of 'truth' (l. 97). Cf. Tilley, T 624, 'As true as a Turtle to her mate'. sparrows: types of sexual vigour, hence of 'courage'.
Editor’s Note
l. 100. Nature againe restored is. It was 'natural' that there should be only one phoenix (that was its essential nature).
Critical Apparatus
101 two,] two 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 104. Satyres. Satyrs, half men, half beasts, given to wine and lascivious revelry throughout the night.
Editor’s Note
ll. 104–5. will stay Waiting. It was customary to serenade the bride and groom on the morning after their marriage. Chambers cites Cotgrave's statement that the song sung on these occasions was called the Hunt's Up.
Critical Apparatus
105 open'd] opened 1633
day,] day. 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 105. let out day. Day does not break till their eyes open and illumine the earth. Cf. l. 29, and the note to l. 31 above.
Editor’s Note
l. 108. at which side: that is, of the curtained four-poster bed in which they are lying (l. 110).
Critical Apparatus
111 try'd] tryed 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 111. try'd: tested, proved.
after nine. Ten o'clock was the usual hour for the first 'public' appearance of members of the fashionable world; cf. 'Satire IV', l. 175.
Editor’s Note
l. 112. enlarge: extend, prolong.
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