Notes on the text
These notes, edited by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. We have also been grateful to be able to draw on the notes by Lisa Lewis for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of Mrs. Bathurst and Other Stories (1991), by kind permission of Oxford University Press, and on critical comments from Peter Havholm.
The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Limits and Renewals, as published and frequently reprinted between 1932 and 1950.
It is I, it is I, it is I !Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora belonging to the nightshades (Solanaceae). Containing hallucinogens, the plant is poisonous and grows in Southern Europe. Legend has it that it screams when uprooted.
I am the Mandrake, daughter of the good days,
I wake at dawn and sing for you.
This symbolism, appropriate to poetical delusion, becomes immensely more powerful when it is applied to revenge. This is the narcotic that Manallace finds for his empty and aching life. Since its origin is in the 'dayspring' and good days of his youth, it is indeed 'la fille des beaux jours'. It is anodyne, refrigerativc, hypnotic. It cradles him in delusions for a while. But it is not the right mandragora and he lets it fall. Even the words of the doctor fit this meaning. Revengeful hatred is a powerful cathartic that can empty the mind of other pains, but it is more often deadly than sanative to the mind that entertains it.[Page 3 lines 1-2] In the days beyond compare ... a variation on 'Once upon a Time' or 'In the High and Far-Off Times' as the opening of a tale. This expression seems to refer, with a touch of irony, to Manallace's early days of hope as a young writer, his 'Dayspring'.
'Well though he knew. I don't like Conington's "well-witting". It's Wardour Street' .[Page 6 line 28] I’ve got my label his readers know and enjoy his style and subjects. A modern advertiser would say 'I've established my brand.'
Dan Chaucer, well of English undefiled,[Page 11 line 16] wot an archaic form of wit – to know or understand.
On Fame’s eternal beadroll worthy to be filed.
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion,Daniel Karlin comments that Dowson (1867-1900) epitomizes the spirit of the 1890s and therefore the narrator's, and Manallace's, lost youth.