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Helen Gardner (ed.), John Donne: The Divine Poems (Second Edition)
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus100 Thy cold white snowie Nunnery,
- 101Which, as thy mother, their high Abbesse, sent
- 102 Their bodies backe againe to thee,
- 103As thou hadst lent them, cleane and innocent,
- 104 Though they have not obtain'd of thee,
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus105 That or thy Church, or I,
- 106Should keep, as they, our first integrity;
- Critical Apparatus107Divorce thou sinne in us, or bid it die,
- 108And call chast widowhead Virginitie.
100 Thy H 49, TCD, Dob, O'F: The 1633, C 57, Gr
l. 100. snowie Nunnery. The extreme High Anglican Anthony Stafford addresses those 'who have vowed Virginity mentall, and corporall' in words that seem to be taken from this stanza: 'Approach with Comfort, and kneele downe before the Grand White Immaculate Abbesse of your snowy Nunneries' (The Femall Glory, 1635).
105 That] That, 1633 uncorrected
- That or thy Church, or I,
- Should keep, as they, our first integrity;
Donne has in mind a famous saying of Eusebius, quoted by Hooker in the Preface to The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, that the Church only remained a pure Virgin as long as the Apostles lived; see Migne, P.G. xx. 283. It is awkward to use 'virginity' metaphorically in a stanza in honour of 'virgins' in the literal sense.
107 Divorce] Devorce 1633 uncorrected