THE textual and explanatory notes which appear in the following pages are very far from being exhaustive. They do not, in any sense, form an apparatus criticus to Donne's writings. To do so, another volume of equal size would be necessary, and its contents would consist very largely of repetitions of annotations made by previous editors. I have confined myself therefore to points which hitherto have received little attention, and to important variant readings, those, in particular, which I have adopted in preference to the choice of other editors. The notes to the poems acknowledge in many cases the help I have received from Professor Grierson's edition. It has been impossible, in so limited a space, to indicate the sources of emendations selected from MSS. and printed editions where the original text is corrupt. For the punctuation of the poems I have received many suggestions from Professor Grierson's edition, with whose standards I usually agree. At the same time I have endeavoured to preserve as far as possible the original punctuation except where it is definitely misleading. New light has been thrown on Elizabethan punctuation in recent years by Mr. Percy Simpson; and Mrs. Simpson ( Rev. Eng. Studies, IV, 15, July, 1928) has shown that Donne himself was aware of its importance. The punctuation of the Sermons, which Donne prepared for the press, was obviously intentional.
"It is the Text that saves us; the interlineary glosses, and the marginal notes, and the variæ lectiones, controversies and perplexities, undo us." [ XXVI Sermons, 4, p. 47.]
|p. 3, l. 17. The Good-morrow. The MSS. and editions are divided over the choice of the epithet for hemispheares. 'better' is the reading of 1633 and some of the best MSS. 'fitter' the reading of the later editions and the majority of MSS. Probably Donne himself was uncertain which to use. After much consideration I have adopted 'better', which seems to express the idea which he had in mind.|
|p. 6, l. 10. The Sunne Rising: "which are the rags of time." Cf. LXXX Sermons, II, 12-13.|