Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Divine Poems
A Sheaf of Snakes Used heretofore to be my Seal
The Crest of Our Poor Family

ADOPTED in God’s family and so
Our old coat lost, unto new arms I go. 1
The Cross—my seal at baptism 2—spread below
Does, by that form, into an Anchor grow.
Crosses grow Anchors; bear, as thou shouldest do        5
Thy Cross, and that Cross grows an Anchor too.
But He that makes our Crosses Anchors thus,
Is Christ, who there is crucified for us.
Yet may I, with this, 3 my first serpents hold;
God gives new blessings, and yet leaves the old;        10
The serpent may, as wise, my pattern be;
My poison, as he feeds on dust, that’s me.
And, as he rounds the earth to murder sure,
My death he is, 4 but on the Cross, my cure.
Crucify nature then, and then implore        15
All grace from Him, crucified there before;
Then 5 all is Cross, and that Cross Anchor grown;
This seal’s a catechism, not a seal alone.
Under that little seal great gifts I send,
Works, 6 and prayers, pawns, and fruits of a friend.        20
And may that saint which rides in 7 our great seal,
To you who bear his name, great bounties deal! 8
Note 1. l. 2. Walton (1658), My old coat lost, into new arms I go [back]
Note 2. l. 3. Walt., in baptism [back]
Note 3. l. 9. Walt., Yet with this, I may [back]
Note 4. l. 14. Walt., He is my death [back]
Note 5. l. 17. Walt., When [back]
Note 6. l. 20. Walt., Both works [back]
Note 7. l. 21. Walt., that rides on [back]
Note 8. l. 22. Walt., To you that bear his name large bounty deal [back]

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