John Donne on Friday

La Carona

2. Annunciation

Salvation to all that will is nigh,

That all, which always is all everywhere,

Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,

Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,

Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie

In prison, in thy womb; and though he there

Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he ‘will wear

Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.

Ere by the spheres time was created, thou

Wast in his mind, who is thy son, and brother,

Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea thou art now

Thy maker’s maker, and thy father’s mother,

Thou’ hast light in dark; and shutt’st in little room,

Immensity cloistered in the dear womb.

 

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

I

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,

Weaved in my low devout melancholy,

Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,

All changing unchanged Ancient of days,

But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays,

Reward my muse’s white sincerity,

But what thy thorny crown gained, that give me,

A crown of glory, which doth flower always;

The ends crown our works, but thou crown’st our ends,

For, at our end  begins our endless rest,

This first last end, now zealously possessed

With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.

‘Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high,

Salvation to all that will is nigh.

 

 

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

John Donne on (Good) Friday

Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

 

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,

The intelligence that moves, devotion is,

And as the other spheres, by being grown

Subject to foreign motions, lose their own,

And being by others hurried every day,

Scarce in a year their natural form obey:

Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit

For their first mover, and are whirled by it.

Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west

This day, when my soul’s form bends toward the east.

There I should see a sun, by rising set,

And by that setting endless day beget;

But that Christ on this Cross, did rise and fall,

Sin had eternally benighted all.

Yet dare I’ almost be glad, I do not see

That spectacle of too much weight for me.

Who sees God’s face, that is self life, must die;

What a death were it then to see God die?

It made his own lieutenant Nature shrink,

It made his footstool crack, and the sun wink.

Could I behold those hands which span the poles,

And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?

Could I behold that endless height which is

Zenith to us, and to’our antipodes,

Humbled below us? or that blood which is

The seat of all our souls, if not of his,

Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn,

By God, for his apparel, ragged, and torn?

If on these things I durst not look, durst I

Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,

Who was God’s partner here, and furnished thus

Half of that sacrifice, which ransomed us?

Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,

They are present yet unto my memory,

For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards me,

O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;

I turn my back to thee, but to receive

Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.

O think me worth thine anger, punish me,

Bur off my rusts, and my deformity,

Restore thine image, so much, by thy grace,

That thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

 

 

 

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

John Donne on Friday

From a sermon preached on Easter Day 1626

[Re-Compacted Bodies]

In natural death, there is Casus in separationem, The man, the person falls into a separation, a divorce of body and soul; and the resurrection from this fall is by re-union, the soul and body are re-united at the last day. A second fall in natural death, is Casus in dissolutionem, The dead body falls by putrefaction into a dissolution, into atoms and grains of dust; and the resurrection from this fall, is by re-efformation: God shall re-compact and re-compile those atoms and grains of dust, into that body, which was before: And then a third fall in natural death, is Casus in Dispersionem, This man being fallen into a divorce of body and soul, this body being fallen into a dissolution of dust, this dust falls into a dispersion, and is scattered unsensibly, undiscernibly upon the face of the earth; and the resurrection from this death, is by way of re-collection; God shall recall and re-collect all these atoms, and grains of dusts, and re-compact that body, and re-unite that soul, and so that resurrection is accomplished…

Where man’s buried flesh hath brought forth grass, and that grass fed beasts, and those beasts fed men,and those men fed other men, God that knows in which box of his cabinet all this seed pearl lies, in what corner of the world every atom, every grain of every man’s dust sleeps, shall recollect that dust, and then recompact that body,and then re-inanimate that man, and that is the accomplishment of all.

 

 

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

John Donne on Friday

From a sermon preached at Lincoln’s Inn (1618)

[Man’s Misery]

First we contemplate man, as the receptacle, the ocean of all misery. Fire and air, water and earth, are not the elements of man; inward decay, and outward violence, bodily pain, and sorrow of heart may be rather styled his elements; And though he be destroyed by these, yet he consists of nothing but these. As the good qualities of all creatures are not for their own use, (for the sun sees not his  own glory, nor the rose smells not her own breath: but all their good is for man) so the ill conditions of the creature, are not directed upon themselves, (the toad poisons not itself, nor does the viper bite itself)  but all their ill pours down upon man. As though man could be a microcosm, a world in himself, no other way, except all the misery of the world fell upon him. Adam was able to decipher the nature of every creature in the name thereof, and the Holy Ghost hath deciphered his in his name too; In all those names that the Holy Ghost hath given man, he hath declared him miserable, for, Adam, (by which name God calls him, and Eve too) signifies but redness, but a blushing: and whether we consider their low materials, as it was but earth, or the redness of that earth, as they stained it with their own blood, and the blood of all their posterity, and as they drew another more precious blood, the blood of the Messias upon it, every way both may be Adam, both may blush. So God called that pair, our ifrst parents, amn in that root, Adam: But the first name, by which God called man in general, mankind, is Ish, Therefore shall a man leave his father, etc. [Gen. 2:24] And Ish, is but a sonitu, a rugitu [from a sound, from a cry]: Man hath his name from crying, and the occasion of crying, misery, testified in his entrance into the world, for he is born crying; and our very laws presume, that if he be alive, he will cry, and if he be not heard cry, conclude him to be born dead. And where man is called Gheber, (as he is often) which is derived from greatness, man is but great so, as that word signifies; It signifies a giant, an oppressor, great in power, and in a delight to do great mischiefs upon others, or great, as he is a great mark, and easily hit by others. But man hath a fourth name too in Scripture, Enosh, and that signifies nothing but misery. When David says, Put them in fear O Lord, that the nations may know they are but men [Ps. 9:20]; there’s that name Enosh, that they are but miserable things. Adam is blushing, Ish is lamentingGeber is oppressing, Enosh is all that; but especially that, which is especially notified for  the misery in our text, Enosh is Homo aeger [a sick man], a man miserable, in particular by the misery of sickness, which our next step, Non sanitas, There is no soundness, no health in me

 

 

 

 

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

John Donne on Friday

The Cross

 

Since Christ embraced the Cross itself, dare I

His image, th’ image of his Cross deny?

Would I have profit by the sacrifice,

And dare the chosen altar to despise?

It bore all other sins, but is it fit

That it should bear the sin of scorning it?

Who from the picture would avert his eye,

How would he fly his pains, who there did die?

From me, no pulpit, nor misgrounded law,

Nor scandal taken, shall this Cross withdraw,

It shall not, for it cannot; for, the loss

Of this Cross, were to me another cross;

Better were worse, for, no affliction,

No cross is so extreme, as to have none.

Who can blot out the Cross, which th’ instrument

Of God, dewed on me in the Sacrament?

Who can deny me power, and liberty

To stretch mine arms, and mine own cross to be?

Swim, and at every stroke, thou art thy cross,

The mast and yard make one, where seas do toss.

Look down, thou spiest out crosses in small things;

Look up, thou seest birds raised on crossed wings;

All the globe’s frame, and sphere’s, is nothing else

But the meridians crossing parallels.

Material crosses then, good physic be,

And yet spiritual have chief dignity.

These for extracted chemic medicine serve,

And cure much better, and as well preserve;

Then are you your own physic, or need none,

When stilled, or purged by tribulation.

For when that Cross ungrudged, unto you sticks,

Then are you to yourself, a crucifix.

As perchance, carvers do not faces make,

But that away, which hid them there, do take:

Let crosses, so, take what hid Christ in thee,

And be his image, or not his, but he.

But, as oft alchemists do coiners prove,

So may a self-despising, get self-love.

And then as worst surfeits, of best meats be,

So is pride, issued from humility,

For, ’tis no child, but monster; therefore cross

Your joy in crosses, else, ’tis double loss,

And cross they senses, else, both they, and thou

Must perish soon, and to destruction bow.

For if the’eye seek good objects, and will take

No cross from bad, we cannot ‘scape a snake.

So with harsh, hard, sour, stinking, cross the rest,

Make them indifferent; call nothing best.

But most the eye needs crossing, that can roam,

And move; to th’ others th’ objects must come home.

And cross thy heart: for that in man alone

Points downwards, and hath palpitation.

Cross those dejections, when it downward tends,

And when it to forbidden heights pretends.

And as the brain through bony walls doth vent

By sutures, which a cross’s form present,

So when thy brain works, ere thou utter it,

Cross and correct concupiscence of wit.

Be covetous of crosses, let none fall.

Cross no man else, but cross thyself in all.

Then doth the Cross of Christ work fruitfully

Within our hearts, when we love harmlessly

That Cross’s pictures much, and with more care

That Cross’s children, which our crosses are.

 

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

John Donne on Friday

From A Litany:

 

IV

The Trinity

O Blessed glorious Trinity,

Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith,

Which, as wise serpents, diversely

Most slipperiness, yet most entanglings hath,

As you distinguished undistinct

By power, love, knowledge be,

Give me a such self different instinct,

Of these let all me elemented be,

Of power, to love, to know, you unnumbered three.

 

 

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

John Donne on Friday

From A Litany:

 

III

The Holy Ghost

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I

Am, but of mud walls, and condensed dust,

And being sacrilegiously

Half wasted with youth’s fires, of pride and lust,

Must with new storms be weatherbeat;

Double in my heart thy flame,

Which let devout sad tears intend; and let

(Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim)

Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.

 

 

 

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

 

 

John Donne on Friday

From A Litany:

 

II

The Son

O Son of God, who seeing two things,

Sin, and death crept in, which were never made,

By bearing one, tried’st with what stings

The other could thine heritage invade;

O be thou nailed unto my heart,

And crucified again,

Part not from it, though it from thee would part,

But let it be by applying so thy pain,

Drowned in thy blood, and in thy passion slain.

 

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

John Donne on Friday

From A Litany:

 

I

The Father

Father of heaven, and him, by whom

It, and us for it, and all else, for us

Thou mad’st, and govern’st ever, come

And re-create me, now grown ruinous:

My heart is by dejection, clay,

And by self-murder, red.

From this red earth, O Father, purge away

All vicious tinctures, that new fashioned

I may rise up from death, before I am dead.

 

 

 

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