Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Divine Poems
The Annunciation and Passion
TAMELY, frail body, 1 abstain to-day; to-day 2
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day        5
Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away;
She sees Him nothing, twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a cedar plant itself, and fall;
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive, yet dead; 3        10
She sees at once the Virgin Mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty, and at scarce fifteen;
At once a son is promised her, and gone;        15
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity;
At once receiver and the legacy.
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
Th’ abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one—        20
As in plain maps, the furthest west is east—
Of th’ angels Ave, and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s Court of Faculties,
Deals, in sometimes, and seldom joining these.
As by the self-fix’d Pole we never do        25
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where th’other is, and which we say
—Because it strays not far—doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to him, we know,
And stand firm, if we by her motion go.        30
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar, 4 doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud; to one end both.
This Church by letting those days 5 join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one; 6
Or ’twas in Him the same humility,        35
That He would be a man, and leave to be;
Or as creation He hath made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes; He shall come, He is gone;        40
Or as though one blood drop, which thence did fall,
Accepted, would have served, He yet shed all,
So though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords.
This treasure then, in gross, my soul, uplay,        45
And in my life retail it every day.
Note 1. l. 1. 1635, frail flesh [back]
Note 2. l. 1. 1650 omits the second to-day [back]
Note 3. l. 10. 1635, and dead [back]
Note 4. l. 31. 1635, and His fiery pillar [back]
Note 5. l. 33. 1635, those feasts [back]
Note 6. l. 34. 1635, art one [back]

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