John Donne on Sunday

From a sermon Preached at St Paul’s (Easter Day [28 March] 1623)

 

“Upon those words of the apostle, If there were no Resurrection, we were the miserablest of all men [1 Cor. 15:13, 19], the School reasons reasonably; Naturally the soul and body are united; when they are separated by death, it is contrary to nature, which nature still affects this union; and consequently the soul is the less perfect, for this separation; and it is not likely, that the perfect natural state of the soul, which is, to be united to the body, should last but three or four score years, and, in most, much less, and the unperfect state, that in the separation should last eternally, for ever: so that either the body must be believed to live again, or the soul believed to die.

 

“Never therefore dispute against thine own happiness; never say, God asks the heart, that is, the soul, and therefore rewards the soul, or punishes the soul, and hath no respect to the body; Nec auferamus cogitationes a collegio carnis, says Tertullian, Never go about to separate the thoughts of the heart from the college, from the fellowship of the body; Siquidem in carne, & cum carne, & per carnem agitur, quicquid ab anima agitur , All the that soul does, it does in, and with, and by the body. And therefore, (says he also) Caro abluitur, ut anima emaculetur, The body is washed in baptism but it is that the soul might be made clean, Caro ungitur, ut anima consecretur, In all unctions, whether that which was then in use in baptism or that which was in use at our transmigration and passage out of this world, the body was anointed, that the soul might be consecrated; Caro signatur, (says Tertullian still) un anima muniatur; the body is signed with the Cross, that the soul might be armed against temptations; And again, Caro de Corpore Christi vescitur, ut anima de Deo saginetur; My body received the body of Christ, that my soul might partake of his merits. He extends it into many particulars and sums up all thus, Non possunt in mercede separari, quæ opera conjungunt, These two, Body, and Soul, cannot be separated for ever, which, whilst they are together, concur in all that either of them do. Never think it presumption, says St Gregory, Sperare in te, quod in se exhibuit Deus homo, To hope for  that in thy self, which God admitted, when he took thy nature upon him. And God hath made it, says he, more easy than so, for thee, to believe it, because not only Christ himself, but such [humans], as tho art, did rise at the resurrection of Christ.* And therefore when our bodies  are dissolved and liquefied in the sea, putrified in the earth, resolved to ashes int the fire, macerated in the air, Velut in vasa sua transfunditur caro nostra [our flesh is poured out as if into a vessel], make account that all the world is God’s cabinet, and water, and earth, and fire, and air, are the proper boxes, in which God lays up our bodies, for the resurrection. Curiously to dispute against our own resurrection, is seditiously to dispute against the dominion of Jesus; who is not made Lord by the resurrection, if he have no subjects to follow him in the same way. We believe him to be Lord, therefore let us believe his, and our resurrection.”

 

* Seems to be a reference to Matthew 27:52 (qtd in context), “51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; 52 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’”

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

 

 

John Donne on Fridays

Love’s Usury
 
 
For every hour that thou wilt spare me now,

I will allow,

Usurious God of Love, twenty to thee,

When with my brown, my grey hairs equal be;

Till then, Love let my body reign, and let

Me travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget,

Resume my last year’s relict: think that yet

We had never met.

 
 
Let me think any rival’s letter mine,

And at next nine

Keep midnight’s promise; mistake by the way

The maid, and tell the Lady of that delay;

Only let me love none, no, not the sport;

From country grass, to comfitures of Court,

Or city’s quelque-choses, let report

My mind transport.

 
 
This bargain’s good; if when I am old, I be

Inflamed by thee,

If thine own honour, or my shame, or pain,

Thou covet, most at that age thou shalt gain.

Do thy will then, then subject and degree,

And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee,

Spare me till then, I’ll bear it, though she be

One that love me.

 
 
Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

John Donne on Fridays

The Expiration

So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,

Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away,

Turn thou ghost that way, and let me turn this,

And let ourselves benight our happiest day,

We asked none leave to love; nor will we owe

Any, so cheap a death, as saying, Go;

Go; and if that word have not quite killed thee,

Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.

Oh, if it have, let my word work on me,

And a just office on a murderer do.

Except it be too late, to kill me so,

Being double dead, going, and bidding, go.

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

John Donne on Fridays

Holy Sonnets

12

Father, part of his double interest

Unto thy kingdom, thy Son gives to me,

He jointure in the knotty Trinity

He keeps, and gives me his death’s conquest.

This Lamb, whose death with life the world hath blessed,

Was from the world’s beginning slain, and he

Hat made two wills, which with the legacy

Of his and thy kingdom, do thy sons invest.

Yet such are thy laws, that men argue yet

Whether a man those statutes can fulfil;

None doth, but thy all-healing grace and Spirit

Revive again what law and letter kill.

Thy law’s abridgement, and thy last command

Is all but love; oh let that last will stand!

 

 

 

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

John Donne on Friday

Holy Sonnets

10.

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for, you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurped town, to another due,

Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end,

Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captived, and proves weak or untrue,

Yet dearly’I love you, and would be loved fain,

But am betrothed unto your enemy,

Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I

Except you enthral me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

 

 

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

John Donne on Friday

La Carona

7. Ascension

Salute the last and everlasting day,

Joy at the uprising of this sun, and son,

Ye whose just tears, or tribulation

Have purely washed, or burnt your drossy clay;

Behold the Highest, parting hence away,

Lightens the dark clouds, which he treads upon,

Nor doth he by ascending, show alone,

But first he, and he first enters the way.

O strong ram, which has battered heaven for me,

Mild lamb, which with thy blood, hast marked the path;

Bright torch, which shin’st, that I the way may see,

Oh, with thine own blood quench thine own just wrath,

And if thy holy Spirit, my Muse did raise,

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

 

 

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990

 

John Donne on Friday

La Carona

6. Resurrection

Moist with one drop of thy blood, my dry soul

Shall (though she now be in extreme degree

Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly,) be

Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard, or foul,

And life, by this death abled, shall control

Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me

Fear of first or last death, bring misery,

If in thy little book my name thou enrol,

Flesh in that long sleep is not putrefied,

But made that there, of which, and for which ’twas;

Nor can by other means be glorified.

May then sin’s sleep, and death’s soon from me pass,

That waked from both, I again risen may

Salute the last, and everlasting day.

 

 

 

Selection take from: John Donne: A Critical Edition of the Major Works,  edited by John Carey; Oxford: OUP, 1990