Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Epicedes and Obsequies upon the Death of Sundry Personages
Elegy upon the Untimely Death of the Incomparable Prince Henry
LOOK to me, faith, and look to my faith, God;
For both my centres feel this period.
Of weight one centre, one of greatness is;
And reason is that centre, faith is this;
For into our reason flow, and there do end,        5
All that this natural world doth comprehend,
Quotidian things, and equidistant hence,
Shut in, for man, 1 in one circumference.
But for th’ enormous greatnesses, which are
So disproportion’d and so angular,        10
As is God’s essence, place, and providence,
Where, how, when, what souls do, departed hence,
These things (eccentric else) on faith do strike;
Yet neither all, nor upon all, alike.
For reason, put to her best extension,        15
Almost meets faith, and makes both centres one.
And nothing ever came so near to this,
As contemplation of that prince 2 we miss.
For all that faith might credit 3 mankind could,
Reason still seconded that this prince would.        20
If, then, least moving 4 of the centre make,
More than if whole hell belch’d, the world to shake,
What must this do, centres distracted so,
That we see not what to believe or know?
Was it not well believed till now, that he,        25
Whose reputation was an ecstasy
On neighbour states, which knew not why to wake,
Till he discover’d what ways he would take;
For whom, what princes angled, when they tried,
Met a torpedo, and were stupefied;        30
And others’ studies, how he would be bent,
Was his great father’s greatest instrument,
And activest spirit, to convey and tie
This soul of peace through Christianity? 5
Was it not well believed, that he would make        35
This general peace th’ eternal overtake,
And that his times might have stretch’d out so far,
As to touch those of which they emblems are?
For to confirm this just belief, that now
The last days came, we saw heaven did allow        40
That, but from his aspect and exercise,
In peaceful times rumours of wars did rise. 6
But now this faith is heresy; we must
Still stay, and vex our great-grandmother, Dust.
O, is God prodigal? hath He spent His store        45
Of plagues on us; and only now, when more
Would ease us much, doth He grudge misery,
And will not let ’s enjoy our curse—to die?
As for the earth thrown lowest down of all,
’Twere an ambition to desire to fall,        50
So God, in our desire to die, doth know
Our plot for ease, in being wretched so.
Therefore we live; though such a life we have,
As but so many mandrakes on his grave.
What had his growth and generation done,        55
When, what we are, his putrefaction
Sustains in us, earth, which griefs animate?
Nor hath our world now other soul than that;
And could grief get so high as heaven, that choir,
Forgetting this their new joy, would desire        60
—With grief to see him—he had stay’d below,
To rectify our errors they foreknow.
Is the other centre, reason, faster then?
Where should we look for that, now we’re not men?
For if our reason be our connection        65
Of causes, 7 now to us there can be none.
For, as if all the substances were spent,
’Twere madness to enquire of accident,
So is ’t to look for reason, he being gone,
The only subject reason wrought upon.        70
If fate have such a chain, whose divers links
Industrious man discerneth, as he thinks,
When miracle doth come, and so steal in 8
A new link, man knows not where to begin.
At a much deader fault must reason be,        75
Death having broke off such a link as he.
But now, for us, with busy proof 9 to come,
That we’ve no reason, would prove we had some.
So would just lamentations; therefore we
May safelier say, that we are dead, than he;        80
So, if our griefs we do not well declare,
We’ve double excuse; he is not dead, and 10 we are.
Yet I would not 11 die yet; for though I be
Too narrow to think him, as he is he
—Our souls best baiting and mid-period,        85
In her long journey, of considering God—
Yet, no dishonour, I can reach him thus,
As he embraced the fires of love, with us.
O may I, since I live, but see or hear
That she-intelligence which moved this sphere,        90
I pardon fate, my life; whoe’er thou be,
Which hast the noble conscience, thou art she.
I conjure thee by all the charms he spoke,
By th’ oaths, which only you two never broke,
By all the souls ye sigh’d, that if you see        95
These lines, you wish I knew your history;
So, much as you two mutual heavens were here,
I were an angel, singing what you were.
Note 1. l. 8. So 1663; 1613, men [back]
Note 2. l. 18. So 1633; 1613, the prince [back]
Note 3. l. 19. So 1633; 1613, could credit [back]
Note 4. l. 21. So 1633; 1613, movings [back]
Note 5. l. 34. 1635, to Christianity [back]
Note 6. l. 42. So 1633; 1613, 1635, should rise [back]
Note 7. l. 66. So 1633; 1613, With causes [back]
Note 8. l. 73. So 1633; 1613, to steal in [back]
Note 9. l. 77. So 1633; 1613, proofs [back]
Note 10. l. 82. 1669 omits and [back]
Note 11. l. 83. 1669, would not I [back]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.