The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne : (A Modern Library E-Book)
This Modern Library edition contains all of John Donne's great metaphysical love poetry.
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December 31, 1993
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Excerpt from The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne by John Donne
THE PRINTER TO THE UNDERSTANDERS
For this time I must speake only to you: at another, Readers may perchance serve my turne; and I thinke this a way very free from exception, in hope that very few will have a minde to confesse themselves ignorant.
If you looke for an Epistle, as you have before ordinary publications, I am sory that I must deceive you; but you will not lay it to my charge, when you shall consider that this is not ordinary, for if I should say it were the best in this kinde, that ever this Kingdome hath yet seene; he that would doubt of it must goe out of the Kingdome to enforme himselfe, for the best judgments, within it, take it for granted.
You may imagine (if it please you) that I could endeare it unto you, by saying, that importunity drew it on; that had it not beene presented here, it would have come to us from beyond the Seas; (which perhaps is true enough), That my charge and paines in procuring of it hath beene such, and such. I could adde hereto, a promise of more correctnesse, or enlargement in the next Edition, if you shall in the meane time content you with this. But these things are so common, as that I should profane this Peece by applying them to it; A Peece which who so takes not as he findes it, in what manner soever, he is unworthy of it, sith a scattered limbe of this Author, hath more amiablenesse in it, in the eye of a discerner, than a whole body of some other; Or (to expresse him best by himself),
"A hand, or eye,In the By Hilyard drawne, is worth a historyStorme By a worse Painter made;"
If any man (thinking I speake this to enflame him for the vent of the Impression) be of another opinion, I shall as willingly spare his money as his judgement. I cannot lose so much by him as hee will by himselfe. For I shall satisfie my selfe with the conscience of well doing, in making so much good common.
Howsoever it may appeare to you. it shall suffice mee to enforme you, that it hath the best warrant that can bee, publique authority, and private friends.