DigitalDonne: the Online Variorum

A Complete Concordance to the Poems of John Donne

Prepared by Mary Farrington, with assistance from Carly Thompson and Laura Perrings.

Elsewhere on this website users will find concordances to the 1633 (A), 1635 (B), and 1669 (G) editions of Poems by J. D. with Elegies on the Author’s Death, as well as to the O’Flahertie (H6), St. Paul’s (SP1), and Westmoreland (NY3) manuscripts of Donne’s poetry. The wordhoard in each of these concordances differs from that in each of the others not only because these artifacts do not contain exactly the same poems, but also because the wording of particular poems varies from collection to collection. In the manuscripts, this variation is due both to scribal error introduced as the poems passed along the channels of transmission and to revisions introduced by Donne himself as he circulated poems in differing versions among various recipients. In the 17th-century editions, compiled from manuscript texts of varying degrees of reliability, the integrity of the concorded text is further eroded by the editors’ eclectic intermingling of the source materials, by their deliberate rewriting of some passages, and by compositorial error.

The work presented here is the first ever complete concordance to Donne’s poems, including not only all the English poems, but also the few Latin poems and semi-poetical writings that were published in volume 8 of the Variorum. Lines or phrases omitted from the first printing (Sat1 81–82, e.g.) have been supplied from a later printing or manuscript. In order to avoid copyright violations, we have derived the text for items published in the 17th century from their first printings or lapidary inscriptions; for poems added to the published canon after 1669, we follow the most reliable manuscript text availableIn order to reduce clutter in the output, we have regularized most features of font and typography (except italics and superscripts) and expanded manuscript and—in the Latin—some print abbreviations, but we have not regularized spelling: users will find, e.g.,  both “fulfil’d” and “fulfill’d” in the word-list, as well as both “Sommer” and “Summer.” Italicized words are rendered as such and are grouped in a separate alphabetized sequence above the main body of words. The system of numerical sigla designating the poems is an expanded version of that established in John Shawcross’s Complete Poetry of John Donne (New York, 1967); and in the complete text upon which the concordance is based, the poems are sequenced as in Shawcross, additional items appearing at the end.


The following are the list of stopwords used in preparing the concordance:

  • a, an, and, as, at, by, for, from, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, to.


Like Combs and Sullens’ earlier Concordance to the English Poems of John Donne (Chicago, 1940), which was based on the 1929 one-volume Grierson (The Poetical Works of John Donne) , this electronic concordance reflects the limitations inherent in the primary materials upon which it is based.  It contains, e.g., no entry for Donne’s  word “clyster”-- because the first 17th-century printing of ElProg (in G) misreads line 96 as “As who by glister gives the Stomack meat.” It does contain, on the other hand, the spurious entry “assumes” – because A prints HSWhat 14 as “This beauteous forme assumes a pitious minde,” substituing the compositorial “assumes” for the authorial “assures.” And users will find an entry for each of the nouns in the title “A Hymne to God the Father,” even though this heading was concocted for the poem by the editor of A.  We plan to prepare a complete concordance based on the Variorum texts when the edition is complete; in the meantime, some corrective to the limitations intrinsic to this version may be achieved by judicious comparison of the separate concordances accompanying the individual digital facsimile editions mentioned above. For example, both H6 and SP1 read the correct “clyster” in ElProg 96—the poem does not appear in NY3— and all three manuscripts evince “assures” in HSWhat 14.  Neither NY3 nor SP1 contains Father, but the poem appears in H6 under the heading “Christo Saluatori.” 

The format of this concordance is the same as that of the Concordance to the 1654 Prose Letters, the only difference being that the Donne Variorum Markup Tags used there are here replaced with HTML coding that produces actual italics and superscripts in the output (e.g., %1Alabaster%2 appears as Alabaster and Ma%5ty%6 appears as Maty).


This concordance was prepared using R. J. C. Watt's Concordance program. In addition to the concordance itself, a first-line index and a file containing the complete text of the volume are provided. The concordance and the first-line index are available in both HTML and PDF versions, and the complete text is available in an HTML version.  The PDF versions, which lack some of the functionalities of the on-line versions, can be viewed online or downloaded for ease of off-line use. 

A Complete Concordance to the Poems of John Donne (html)

Complete Concordance of the Poems of John Donne (pdf)

Full Text of the Complete Concordance of the Poems of John Donne (html)

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