The Geographer: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1668, oil on canvas, 53 x 46.6 cm (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt)
.............Let me powre forth
My teares before thy face, whil'st I stay here,
For thy face coines them, and thy stampe they beare,
And by this Mintage they are something worth,
.............For thus they bee
.............Pregnant of thee,
Fruits of much griefe they are, emblemes of more,
When a teare falls, that thou falst which it bore,
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.
.............On a round ball
A workeman that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, All,
.............So doth each teare,
.............Which thee doth weare,
A globe, yea world by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mixt with mine doe overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolved so.
.............O more then Moone,
Draw not up seas to drowne me in thy spheare,
Weepe me not dead, in thine arms, but forbeare
To teach the sea, what it may doe too soone,
.............Let not the winde
To doe me more harm than it purposeth,
Since thou and I sigh one anothers breath,
Who e'r sighs most, is cruellest, and hasts the others death.
John Donne: A valediction of weeping, n.d., text from Poems, 1633
Helen Gardner (The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne, Oxford, 1965) on ll. 10-13: The workman has copies, not originals, of maps beside him which he pastes onto a round ball to make a 'globe'. Cf.
Though the labour of any Artificer in that Trade, will bring East and West together, (for if a flat Map be but pasted upon a round Globe, the farthest East, and the Farthest West meet, and are all one) . . . (Donne to Sir Robert Carr, 1624)
David Norbrook (Introduction to The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1669, 1992): Donne is fond of figures drawn from the prelinguistic, deductive science of geometry. But he is more an 'anti-metaphysical' than a 'metaphysical' poet. His poems constantly explore the difficulties of relationship by means of the difficulties of representation. The cartographer's geometry has a totally different logic in two and three dimensions, the lovers' convex tears mirror each other but must acknowledge failure.
...his cartographical conceits can also indicate the delicacy and vulnerability of a mutual relationship, the mapped globe quivering with the surface tension of a tear. The greater complexity of some of the lyrics in comparison with the "Elegies' is often ascribed to Donne's marriage with Ann More, which lost him his employer's favour, so that the marriage relationship had to bear much of the weight of his earlier aspirations to the public world. Donne's marriage, at least in its early years, may indeed have had a crucial effect; Ann was descended from Sir Thomas More, and repeated puns on 'More' in the lyrics connect his love with utopian exploration.
The Geographer (detail): Johannes Vermeer, c. 1668 (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt)
The Art of Painting (detail): Johannes Vermeer, 1665-67 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Viennna)
Officer with a Laughing Girl: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1657, oil on canvas, 50.5 x 46 cm (Frick Collection, New York)
Woman with a Lute near a Window (detail): Johannes Vermeer, c. 1663 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Young Woman with a Water Jug: Johannes Vermeer, 1660-62, oil on canvas, 45.7 x 40.6 cm (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
The Love Letter: Johannes Vermeer, 1667-68, oil on canvas, 44 x 38.5 cm (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)