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John Donne was born in London, in 1573. He entered Hertford College at the early age of eleven, and became a youthful prodigy of learning. Donne, who had been bred a Catholic, early in life, on sincere conviction, renounced that faith, and became a Protestant minister; he obtained the favour of King James the First, and died Dean of St. Paul's, in 1631.

Without being in the strictest sense of the word a sacred poet, Donne is one of those writers who have shown their reverence of religion with the warmth and sincerity of genuine feeling. He is frequently rugged and obscure, yet he displays a depth of sentiment and an originality of thought, which contain the germs of true poetry.



Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?

Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;

I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way;

Despair behind, and death before, doth cast

Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh,
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee,

By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,

That not one hour myself I can sustain;
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And Thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.


This is my play's last scene; here heavens appoint

My pilgrimage's last mile; and my race

Idly yet quickly run, hath this last pace; My span's last inch, my minute's latest point; And gluttonous death will instantly unjoint

My body and my soul, and I shall sleep a space;

But my ever-waking part shall see that face Whose fear already shakes my every joint: Then as my soul, to heaven, her first seat, takes flight,

And earth-born body, in the earth shall dwell, So fall my sins, that all may have their right,

To where they're bred, and would press me to hell. Impute me righteous, thus purged of evil, For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.


At the round earth's imagined corners, blow

Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise

From death, your numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go
All whom the flood did, and fire shall, o'erthrow;

All whom war, death, age, agues, tyrannies,

Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe: But let them sleep, Lord, and me moum'a space;

For if above all these my sins abound, 'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace

When we are there; here, on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that's as good
As if Thou hadst sealed my pardon with thy blood.


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;

For those whom thou thinkest thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor Death ; nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be,

Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow:

And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms, can make us sleep as well,

And better, than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally;
And death shall be no more; Death! thou must die.


VENGEANCE will sit above our faults; but till

She there do sit
We see her not, nor them. Thus blind, yet still
We lead her way; and thus, whilst we do ill,

We suffer it.

Unhappy he whom youth makes not beware

Of doing ill:
Enough we labour under age and care:
In number, th' errors of the last place are

The greater still.

Yet we, that should the ill we now begin

As soon repent, (Strange thing!) perceive not; our faults are not seen, But past us; neither felt, but only in

The punishment.

But we know ourselves least; mere outward shows

Our minds so store,
That our souls, no more than our eyes, disclose
But form and colour; only he who knows

Himself, knows more.

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In what torn ship soever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of thy ark ;
What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood;
Though Thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,
Which, though they turn away sometimes,

They never will despise.

I sacrifice this island unto Thee
And all whom I loved there, and who loved me;
When I have put our seas 'twixt them and me,
Put Thou thy seas betwixt my sins and Thee.
As the tree's sap doth seek the root below
In winter, in my winter now I go,
Where none but Thee, th' eternal root

Of true love, I may know.

Not Thou nor thy religion, dost control
The amorousness of an harmonious soul;
But Thou wouldst have that love Thyself: as Thou
Art jealous, Lord, so am I jealous now,
Thou lovest not, till from loving more, Thou free
My soul: who ever gives, takes liberty :
Oh! if Thou carest not whom I love,

Alas! Thou lovest not me.

Seal, then, this bill of my divorce to all
On whom those fainter beams of love did fall;
Marry those loves which in youth scattered be
On Fame, Wit, Hope, (false mistresses) to Thee.
Churches are best for prayer, that have least light:
To see God only, I go out of sight,
And to 'scape stormy days, I choose

An everlasting night.



SINCE I am coming to that holy room

Where with the choir of saints for evermore
I shall be made thy music, as I come

I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown

Cosmographers and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown

That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die;

I joy that in these straits I see my west;

For though those currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? as west and east

In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,

Christ's cross and Adam's tree, stood in one place,
Look, Lord! and find both Adams met in me:

As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So in his purple wrapped receive me, Lord

By these his thorns give me his holy crown,
And as to others' souls I preached thy word,

Be this my text, my sermon to mine own;
Therefore, that He may raise, the Lord throws down.

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