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John Donne

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

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pg 50Hymne to God my God, in my sicknesse

  • 1Since I am comming to that Holy roome,
  • 2    Where, with thy Quire of Saints for evermore,
  • 3I shall be made thy Musique; As I come
  • 4  I tune the Instrument here at the dore,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus5  And what I must doe then, thinke now before.
  • Editor’s Note6Whilst my Physitians by their love are growne
  • 7  Cosmbgraphers, and I their Mapp, who lie
  • 8Flat on this bed, that by them may be showne
  • 9  That this is my South-west discoverie
  • 10  Per fretum febris, by these streights to die,
  • 11I joy, that in these straits, I see my West;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus12  For, though theire currants yeeld returne to none,
  • Editor’s Note13What shall my West hurt me? As West and East
  • 14  In all flatt Maps (and I am one) are one,
  • 15  So death doth touch the Resurrection.
  • Editor’s Note16Is the Pacifique Sea my home? Or are
  • 17  The Easterne riches? Is Jerusalem?
  • Editor’s Note18Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltare,
  • Critical Apparatus19  All streights, and none but streights, are wayes to them,
  • 20  Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Sem.
  • Editor’s Note21We thinke that Paradise and Calvarie,
  • 22  Christs Crosse, and Adams tree, stood in one place;
  • 23Looke Lord, and finde both Adams met in me;
  • 24  As the first Adams sweat surrounds my face,
  • 25  May the last Adams blood my soule embrace.
  • 26So, in his purple wrapp'd receive mee Lord,
  • 27  By these his thornes give me his other Crowne;
  • 28And as to others soules I preach'd thy word,
  • 29  Be this my Text, my Sermon to mine owne,
  • Editor’s Note30  Therfore that he may raise the Lord throws down.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
Hymne to God my God &c. 1635 MSS.: S 96, A 34
Critical Apparatus
5 now MSS.: here 1635, Gr
Editor’s Note
l. 5. now. I have adopted the reading of both MSS. for 'here' of 1635, which would seem to have been caught from the line above.
Editor’s Note
l. 6. love. Grierson was misled in stating that in Caesar's copy the reading is 'loer', sc. 'lore'.
By their loving attention to him Donne's doctors have turned into geographers and he a map which they pore over. It is a map of the whole world, for man is a little world. They chart his symptoms and find that the course which they have charted shows a 'South-west discoverie'. The South is the hot quarter; the West the quarter of the Sun's declension. He is to die by the 'raging heat' (fretum) of fever, or to travel by the 'strait' (fretum) of fever.
Critical Apparatus
12 theire S 96: theis A 34: those 1635
Editor’s Note
l. 12. theire. I follow Grierson in adopting 'theire' from S 96. 'Theis' (A 34) may well be a misreading of 'their', which has given rise to 'these' read as 'those' in 1635.
Editor’s Note
ll. 13–15. As West and East &c. Cf. 'Upon the Annunciation and Passion', l. 21; cf. also Sermons, ii. 199. These three lines condense a passage in a sermon:

In a flat Map, there goes no more, to make West East, though they be distant in an extremity, but to paste that flat Map upon a round body, and then West and East are all one. In a flat soule, in a dejected conscience, in a troubled spirit, there goes no more to the making of that trouble, peace, then to apply that trouble to the body of the Merits, to the body of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and conforme thee to him, and thy West is East, thy Trouble of spirit is Tranquillity of spirit. The name of Christ is Oriens, The East;, And yet Lucifer himselfe is called Filius Orientis, The Son of the East. If thou beest fallen by Lucifer … and not fallen as Lucifer, to a senslesnesse of thy fall.… but to a troubled spirit, still thy Prospect is the East, still thy Climate is heaven, still thy Haven is Jerusalem (Sermons, vi. 59).

Both text and conceit occur in a letter to Sir Robert Carr, where Donne says his imagination is full of a sermon he is about to preach (Tobie Mathew Collection, pp. 305–7). The text is the Vulgate version of Zech. vi. 12: 'Ecce vir, Oriens nomen ejus', used by Donne in his own epitaph.
Editor’s Note
ll. 16–17. Is the Pacifique Sea my home? Or are
The Eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Cf. 'A narrower way, but to a better Land; thorow Straights; 'tis true; but to the Pacifique Sea' (Sermons, ix. 185). 'The Easterne riches' refers to the fabled land of Cathay. The name 'Jerusalem' means 'Vision of Peace'.
Behind the questions lie the speculations of medieval geographers as to the location of the Terrestrial Paradise. In most medieval maps Jerusalem is at the centre, the East is at the top and Paradise is placed at the farthest East, beyond Cathay; see the Hereford Mappa Mundi. But since it was believed that Paradise was hedged about by a wall of flame, some thinkers identified this with the torrid zone and placed Paradise in the Southern Ocean, as Dante does. In Donne's day, however, all authorities, Catholic and Protestant, were agreed that the Terrestrial Paradise was in Mesopotamia, in the same part of the world as Jerusalem. The earthly Paradise is a type of the heavenly, as the earthly city of Jerusalem is a type of 'the Jerusalem which is above'.
Editor’s Note
ll. 18–20. Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltare &c. The 'Streto de Anian' appeared first on a map of 1566, as a narrow strait separating America from Eastern Asia. 'Anian' placed on the west coast of America, was Marco Polo's Anica or Anin, modern Annam.
The world as known to the early Fathers was divided between the sons of Noah: Japhet's inheritance was Europe, Ham's was Africa, and Shem's, Asia. On old sketch-maps their names can be seen for the names of the continents.
Donne cannot mean that the Pacific or Cathay can only be reached by straits in the geographical sense; cf. 'Men go to China, both by the Straights, and by the Cape' (Tobie Mathew Collection, p. 68); see also Sermons, viii. 371. He is punning: 'Anian, Magellan and Gibraltar, ways to the East, the Pacific and to Jerusalem, are all straits, and however we travel to them—
Critical Apparatus
19 streights,] streights 1635
Editor’s Note
ll. 21–22. Paradise and Calvarie &c. See Appendix F, pp. 135–7, for an extended discussion of these lines.
Editor’s Note
l. 30. Therfore that he may raise the Lord throws down. The text of Donne's sermon to his own soul is not apparently Scriptural. Cf. 'But thine Apostles feare takes hold of mee, that when I have preached to others, I myselfe should be a cast-away; and therefore I am cast downe, that I might not. be cast away' (Sparrow, Devotions, p. 13, cited by Grierson). Cf. also: 'Death who destroys me, reedifies me:… man was fallen, and God took that way to raise him, to throw him lower, into the grave' (Sermons, iv. 126). The nearest text I can find is Job xxii. 29: 'When men are cast down, then shalt thou say, There is lifting up' ('Qui enim humiliatus fuerit erit in gloria', Vulgate).
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