Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Notes to Doubtful Poems
I HAVE included in this Appendix a number of poems which have been ascribed to Donne, upon evidence which hardly admits of a definite decision for or against his authorship. In the case of most of them his claim is very slight, and these I have printed as they are given by the editor who first made it for him; a few which may possibly be his I have edited more carefully. I now proceed to add such data bearing on the question of authorship as I have been able to collect.  1
I. From The Grove (1721).

The Grove is a miscellany of original poems and translations.

Printed from an old MS. formerly belonging to Sir John Cotton, of Stratton in Huntingdonshire. Sir J. Simeon, who apparently had not seen The Grove, printed the poem again in his Philobiblon Society volume of 1856. It is in the Stephens MS. of Donne, and in the Harvey MS., and also appears anonymously in Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody (1602), in Wit Restored (1658), and in Brit. Mus. Lansd. 740, MS. f. 107. In Hawthornden MS. 15, it is signed J. H., perhaps the initials of Sir John Harrington. The style, rhythm, and thought are, however, all markedly Donne’s.
II. From F. G. Waldron’s A Collection of Miscellaneous Poetry (1802).

250. Love’s War.

Printed by Waldron, both here and in his Shakesperian Miscellany of the same year, from a MS. dated 1625, and subsequently by Sir J. Simeon. In Addl. MS. 25,707, f. 10, and in Lansd. MS. 740, f. 84, it occurs in a series of Donne’s Elegies. It is in the Stephens MS. and the Harvey MS.—and amongst the poems attributed to “Dr. Doone” in Harl. MS. 4955, f. 99. It is also found, unsigned but with other poems of Donne’s, in Addl. MS. 18,647, f. 15, Addl. MS. 30,982, f. 142, and T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2, 21, f. 61.
III. From Sir J. Simeon’s Unpublished Poems of Donne (Philobiblon Society’s Publications, vol. iii. 1856–7).

The poems printed by Simeon were taken from, (a) the Swanley MS., dated 1644, and bound up with a copy of the 1633 quarto; (b) the Utterson MS., a common-place book; (c) a MS. lent by the late Lord Houghton, and thought to be partly in Donne’s handwriting. The learned editor has not stated to which of his MSS. the poems which he prints respectively belong.

The only other authority for this poem is the Stephens MS. It is unsigned in C.C.C. Oxon. MS. 327, f. 21. It is very much feebler than Donne’s poem on the same theme printed in vol i. p. 1.

This occurs unsigned, but with other poems of Donne’s, in Harl. MS. 4064, f. 231, and in Eg. MS. 2230, f. 18. In the latter MS., on the first page of which is written “E libris Richardo Glovero pharmacopol, Londinensi pertinentibus, 1638,” there is given the following alternative ending—
        “I have been otherwise and otherwise shall be,
For as I change my time, time changeth me;
That face is happy and those looks are strange,
Where time no wrinkles breeds, nor wrinkle change.”
  The poem also occurs, under the heading “Prolegomena quaedam,” in Rawl. Poet. MS. 31. This MS. professes to contain “Sir John Harrington’s Poems, written in the reign of Queen Elizabeth”; but many of the contents are not Harrington’s, and some are Donne’s. The style of the poem is most unlike Donne’s, and reminds me strongly of Samuel Daniel.
Love Sonnets, I., II.

These are not, so far as I know, found elsewhere than in Simeon’s tract.

There is no other evidence for Donne than that of Simeon’s MSS. The poem is printed anonymously in Wit’s Interpreter (1655). It also occurs anonymously twice over in T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, ff. 293, 368. It is given to the Earl of Pembroke in Harl. MS. 3910, f. 112, Addl. MS. 21,433, f. 119, and Addl. MS. 25,303, f. 139. In Bodl. Mal. MS. 13, it is headed To the Countess of Salisbury, and ascribed, in a different handwriting, to Aurelian Townshend.

This poem is printed amongst Joshua Sylvester’s Posthumi in his folio volume of 1633. It appeared earlier, in William Corkine’s Second Book of Ayres (1612), and the last three stanzas are found, with the initial “P,” in Pembroke and Ruddier’s Poems (1660). It also occurs anonymously in several Brit. Mus. and other MSS., among them Addl. MS. 10,309, f. 153, and Addl. MS. 25,707, f. 172, both of which contain poems of Donne’s.

This is printed, with the initials J. D., in Le Prince d’Amour (1660). It is also in the Stephens MS. of Donne.

Only the last two stanzas are given by Simeon. The first is added by Dr. Grosart from the Stephens MS. The whole poem occurs, without any author’s name, in Rawl. Poet. MS. 31, f. 6, and C.C.C. Oxon. MS. 327, f. 21.

In Le Prince d’Amour (1660) this poem is headed An Elegy 1602 to Mist. Bailstrode, and signed J. D. In Hawthornden MS. 15 however it is signed J. R., and has the title, To his Mistress, promising to love him an hour. In Lansd. MS. 740, f. 103, it is initialled J. R. and has the date 1602. It is also initialled J. R. in T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 255. J. R. would be [Sir] J[ohn] R[oe]. In Rawl. Poet. MS. 31, f. 26, it has the heading To Mrs. Boulstred, but is unsigned. In Addl. MS. 10,309, f. 66, occurs a shorter version, also unsigned.

This is given to J. D. in Le Prince d’Amour (1660), and occurs also in the Stephens MS. with the heading, A Paradox of a Painted Face. It is in Pembroke and Ruddier’s Poems (1660), but has neither “P” nor “R” appended to it. In T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 469, it is anonymous. In Harl. MS. 3910, f. 20, it is said to be “By my Lo: of Cant. follower Mr. Baker.” Who this Mr. Baker was I do not know; a Gulielmus Baker has verses in Coryat’s Crudities (1611).

This is in the Stephens MS. But it is marked “P” in Pembroke and Ruddier’s Poems, and it has the same initial in Harl. MS. 4064, f. 253, and in Rawl. Poet. MS. 31. In the former place it is preceded by two six-line stanzas in a different metre, beginning “Disdain me still.” These were first printed in John Dowland’s A Pilgrim’s Solace (1612).

An imperfect copy of this poem is found unsigned, in Addl. MS. 10,309, f. 46, which contains several poems of Donne’s. On the other hand a much longer version than that given by Simeon occurs with the initials “R” in Pembroke and Ruddier’s Poems (1660), in Harl. 4064, f. 254, and in Rawl. Poet. MS. 31. It begins—
        “No praise it is that him whom Python slew.”
Although the Poems of 1660 are of no great critical value, I have little doubt that this and the preceding poem are rightly assigned to Sir Benjamin Rudyard and the Earl of Pembroke, respectively. They form part of a poetical tournament, extending to six copies of verses in all, in which the one writer consistently disparages while the other exalts the functions of Love. Curiously enough, corroborative evidence that neither of these poems can be by Donne is afforded by his own hitherto unpublished poem to Lord Pembroke (see Appendix B.), which clearly refers to this very tournament. I only reprint them for the sake of comparison with this. They should really be noticed amongst the Spurious Poems in Appendix C.

This poem also occurs in Pembroke and Ruddier’s Poems, with the initial “R.” But it is found in several Brit. Mus. MSS., and is ascribed to a variety of authors. Thus Harl. MS. 6057, f. 9, and Addl. MS. 21,433, f. 109, give it to Ben Jonson; Lansd. MS. 777, f. 71, and Addl. MS. 11,811, f. 33, to W. P.; Harl. MS. 6931, f. 8, to Walton Poole, with the heading, “To his Mrs. in despair because her eyes and hair were black.” In ten other MSS. it is unsigned, but in two of these, Sloane MS. 1792, f. 23, and Addl. MS. 30,982, f. 152, it is headed “On Mrs. Poole,” and one, Eg. MS. 923, f. 61, “On the Ld. Shandaw’s sister.” T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 428, also ascribes it to Walton Poole, and heads it “To a Lady whom I will not name.” It is printed in Parnassus Biceps (1656). Walton Poole has a poem in Annalia Dubrensia (1636).
  The inter-relations of the families of Poole of Saperton, Co. Gloc., and of Bridges, Barons Chandos of Sudeley, Co. Gloc., are obscure. But I do not feel sure if there was one Beatrix Bridges or two, and if one, whether she was the daughter of William or of Grey Bridges. But if there was only one, it was clearly the younger Henry Poole that she married, and she is probably the subject of this poem, who is not called Lady Poole. Any one who wishes to make a further attempt at unravelling the tangle may compare the Harleian Soc. Publications, xxi. pp. 125, 237, with the County Histories, the Peerages, s.v. Chandos, Howard’s Miscell. Herald. et Geneal., N. S. iv. 163, and Harl. MSS. 6174, ff. 9, 26; 1191, f. 14; 6185, f. 34. The name Walton does not occur amongst the Pooles of Gloucestershire, but it does amongst their Wiltshire kinsmen. Foster (Alumni Oxonienses) gives “Walton Poole of Wilts, arm. matr. 29, 1. 1580, at Trin. Coll. aged 15.”

This does not appear elsewhere.

This is in Hawthornden MS. 15, which contains several of Donne’s poems in the handwriting of Drummond of Hawthornden. It is also signed J. D. in the Harvey MS.

This appears in Sir J. Harrington’s Epigrams, being No. 52 of the 1615 edition and No. 47 of the 4th book of the 1618 edition. Smug the Smith of Edmonton is a character in a play called The Merry Devil of Edmonton (1608). This is based on “The Life and Death of the Merry Devil of Edmonton, with the pleasant pranks of Smug the Smith, Sir John, and Mine Host of the George about the stealing of venison. By T[ony] B[rewer] (1631, but entered on S. R. 5 March 1608).” There are further allusions to Smug in The Jests of George Peele (1607), (Peele’s Works, ed. Bullen, ii. 378) and in Howell’s Epistolae Ho-Elianae (Ep. i. 5, 1; ii. 54).
IV. From Dr. Grosart’s edition of Donne’s Poems in the Fuller Worthies Library, 1873.

The Lady and her Viol.

Printed by Dr. Grosart from the Farmer-Chetham MS., where it is found unsigned, but with two or three other poems of Donne’s.

Printed by Dr. Grosart from Trin. Coll. Camb. MS., R. 3, 12, p. 45. It is found, but always unsigned, in half-a-dozen Brit. Mus. and other MSS.; and in Addl. MS. 15,226, f. 3, it occurs under the title Love is no fire, by the side of a companion poem, Love is a fire, which begins—
        “If that th’ effect and nature give a name.”

Printed by Dr. Grosart from the Stephens MS. It is found, unsigned, in Addl. MS. 22,603, 56, and T. C. Dublin MS. G. 2. 21, f. 354, and also, set to music, in Eg. MS. 2013, f. 36. In Harl. MS. 791, f. 62, it is given, eight lines at a time, as the lover’s part of The Lover’s dialogue with the Sun. Here, too, it is anonymous, as it is in Addl. MS. 33,998, f. 50, where also it is accompanied by an answer, beginning—
        “I do peep to see you play.”
It is printed, with music, in J. Wilson’s Cheerful Ayres (1659).

Printed by Dr. Grosart from the Stephens MS. It is found, without any signature, in C.C.C. Oxon. MS. 327, f. 26, and also the Percy Folio MS., vol. iii. 391. The text there given is very different, and begins—
        “Great or proud, if she deride me.”

Printed by Dr. Grosart from the Stephens and Haslewood-Kingsborough MSS. It is also found, signed J. D., in the Harvey MS., and unsigned, but in company with other poems of Donne’s, in Addl. MS. 10,309, f. 64, Lansd. MS. 740, f. 104, and Rawl. Poet. MS. 31, f. 25.

This poem has been claimed for several authors. Dr. Grosart gives it from the Stephens MS., and it is also ascribed to Donne in the Haslewood-Kingsborough MS., in Bodl. Ashm. MS. 38, in Eg. MS. 2421, f. 42, and in C.C.C. Oxon. MS. 328, f. 20. In Walton’s Complete Angler (1653) it appeared with the following introduction—
  “Pisc. I will requite you with a very good copy of verses: it is a farewell to the vanities of the world, and some say written by Dr. D. But let they be written by whom they will, he that writ them had a brave soul, and must needs be possest with happy thoughts at the time of their composure.” In the edition of 1655 this passage remained the same, but in the third (1661) and later editions it was altered to run thus: “And some say written by Sir Harry Wotton, who I told you was an excellent Angler.” In Harl. MS. 6057, f. 14, they are given to Henry King; in Eg. MS. 2603, f. 63, and in Addl. MS. 18,220, f. 69, to Sir Kenelm Digby. They are also printed as Digby’s in Wit’s Interpreter (1655). They are unsigned in Wit’s Recreations (ed. 1641), in Rawl. Poet. MS. 90, f. 1, in Sloane MS. 2142, f. 87, where is found the note “May ye 16. impf.,” and in Abp. Sancroft’s Tanner MS. 465, f. 59. In this MS. they are headed “An hermit in an arbour, with a prayer-book in his hand, his foot spurning a globe, thus speaketh.” Sir H. Nicolas says that they are said to have been written by Sir Walter Raleigh in the Tower, but he does not give his authority. Dr. Augustus Jessopp in Dict. of Nat. Biog. speaks of Donne as stating his intention to include this poem in his projected volume of 1614. A comparison with the passage quoted in the Bibliographical Note (vol. i. p. xxxvii) will show that this is an error. It is the whole volume which Donne there speaks of as his “Valediction to the World, before taking orders.”
  I may add that in Ironside’s History of Twickenham (Nichols’ Miscell. Antiq. 20, vi.), a rough version of ll. 23, seqq. of this poem is given as copied from a corner of the Isleworth Survey, with the signature Moses Glover, 1635.
  The closing lines of King’s The Farewell are curiously similar to those of this poem—
        “My woeful Monument shall be a cell,
The murmur of the purling brook my knell;
My lasting Epitaph the Rock shall groan;
Thus when sad lovers ask the weeping stone,
What wretched thing does in that centre lie,
The hollow echo will reply, ’twas I.”
  I have said very little in these notes about the evidence of style and thought, not because I consider it less important, but because it is certainly less demonstrable than such external evidence as I have been able to find. But after a careful weighing of both kinds of evidence, I may give it as my opinion, for what it is worth, that the following poems are the only ones, amongst those included in this Appendix, that can with any reasonable amount of assurance be attributed to Donne—
Love’s War.
Love Sonnets, i., ii.
The Lady and her Viol.
Love and Wit.

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