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

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To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy

  • 1 Wel dy'de the world, that we might live to see
  • 2 This world of wit, in his Anatomee:
  • Editor’s Note3 No evill wants his good: so wilder heyres
  • 4 Bedew their fathers Toombs with forced teares,
  • Editor’s Note5 Whose state requites their los: whils thus we gain
  • 6 Well may we walk in blacks, but not complaine.
  • 7 Yet, how can I consent the world is dead
  • 8 While this Muse lives? which in his spirits stead
  • Editor’s Note9 Seemes to informe a world: and bids it bee,
  • 10 In spight of losse, or fraile mortalitee?
  • 11 And thou the subject of this wel-borne thought,
  • Critical Apparatus12 Thrise noble maid, couldst not have found nor sought
  • 13 A fitter time to yeeld to thy sad Fate,
  • Editor’s Note14 Then whiles this spirit lives; that can relate
  • Editor’s Note15 Thy worth so well to our last nephews eyne,
  • 16 That they shall wonder both at his, and thine:
  • 17 Admired match! where strives in mutuall grace
  • 18 The cunning Pencill, and the comely face:
  • 19 A taske, which thy faire goodnes made too much
  • 20 For the bold pride of vulgar pens to tuch;
  • pg 21 21 Enough is us to praise them that praise thee,
  • 22 And say that but enough those praises bee,
  • 23 Which had'st thou liv'd, had hid their fearefull head
  • 24 From th'angry checkings of thy modest red:
  • Editor’s Note25 Death bars reward and shame: when envy's gone,
  • Critical Apparatus26 And gaine, 'tis safe to give the dead their owne.
  • Editor’s Note27 As then the wise Egyptians wont to lay
  • 28 More on their Tombs, then houses: these of clay,
  • 29 But those of brasse, or marble were; so wee
  • 30 Give more unto thy Ghost, then unto thee.
  • 31 Yet what we give to thee, thou gav'st to us,
  • Editor’s Note32 And maist but thanke thy selfe, for being thus:
  • 33 Yet what thou gav'st, and wert, O happy maid,
  • Critical Apparatus34 Thy grace profest all due, where 'tis repayd.
  • 35 So these high songs that to thee suited bine,
  • Critical Apparatus36 Serve but to sound thy makers praise, in thine,
  • 37 Which thy deare soule as sweetly sings to him
  • Editor’s Note38 Amid the Quire of Saints and Seraphim,
  • 39 As any Angels tongue can sing of thee;
  • 40 The subjects differ, tho the skill agree:
  • 41 For as by infant-yeares men judge of age,
  • 42 Thy early love, thy vertues, did presage
  • Critical Apparatus43 What an hie part thou bear'st in those best songs
  • Editor’s Note44 Whereto no burden, nor no end belongs.
  • 45 Sing on, thou Virgin soule, whose lossefull gaine
  • 46 Thy love-sicke Parents have bewayl'd in vaine;
  • 47 Never may thy name be in our songs forgot
  • Editor’s Note48 Till we shall sing thy ditty, and thy note.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
l. 3. No evill wants his good: some good comes out of every calamity. Cf. Henry V, iv. i. 4: 'There is some soul of goodness in things evil.'
Editor’s Note
l. 5. state: estate (to which the heirs succeed); O.E.D. I. 1. e.
Editor’s Note
l. 9. informe: be to it as a soul (the 'form' of the body, which gives it life and characteristic quality); O.E.D. II. Cf. The First Anniversary, 'An Anatomy', l. 36 and note.
Critical Apparatus
12 maid,] maid; 1611
Editor’s Note
l. 14. relate: (a) tell; (b) present, portray as in a painting (l. 18); (c) hand down to future generations.
Editor’s Note
l. 15. nephews: descendants (O.E.D., sb. 4).
Editor’s Note
ll. 25–6. Cf. Ovid, Amores 1. xv. 39–40 (Manley):
  • Pascitur in vivis Livor: post fata quiescit,
  •   Cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honor.
Critical Apparatus
26 gaine,] gaine; 1611
Editor’s Note
ll. 27–30. Cf. Sparrow, Devotions, p. 36: 'some Nations, (the Egiptians in particular) built themselves better tombs, then houses, because they were to dwell longer in them'. Diodorus Siculus, I. 51, contrasts the humble houses of the Egyptians with the zeal they lavished on burials (because the dead spend eternity in Hades). The idea became a commonplace; Manley cites, e.g., L. C. Rhodiginus (Lectionum Antiquarum libri …, Lyon, 1560, ii. 506) and Alexander ab Alexandro (Genialium Dierum libri sex, Paris, 1539, f. 139), who also says that the Egyptians lived in huts of stone or wattle. Hall probably adds 'clay' (l. 28) as appropriate to the mortal body.
Editor’s Note
l. 32. thus: thus thanked.
Critical Apparatus
34 where] were 16121625
Critical Apparatus
36 in] and 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 38. the Quire of Saints and Seraphim. Only a virtuous soul with her degree of 'grace' (l. 34) would rank with the seraphim, the highest order of angels. Aquinas, citing Luke xx. 36 ('they are equal unto the angels'), says that 'by the gift of grace men can merit glory in such a degree as to be equal to the angels, in each of the angelic grades; and this implies that men are taken up into the orders of angels' (S. T. Ia pars, q. cviii, art. 8); he quotes St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xii. 9. Cf. Sermons, ii. 342, iv. 184–5, etc.
Critical Apparatus
43 What an hie …. best songs ] What hie … best songs 1621, 1625: What hie … best of songs 1633
Editor’s Note
l. 44. burden: (a) refrain, repeated chorus; (b) wearisome load.
Editor’s Note
l. 48. ditty … note: words … music. O.E.D., 'ditty', sb. 3, cites As You Like It, v. iii. 33–4: 'there was no great matter in the ditty, yet the note was very untuneable.'
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