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 on Himself
MY fortune and my choice this custom break,
When we are speechless grown to make stones speak.
Though no stone tell thee what I was, yet thou
In my grave’s inside seest what thou art now,
Yet thou ’rt not yet so good; till us death lay        5
To ripe and mellow here, we’re stubborn clay.
Parents make us earth, and souls dignify
Us to be glass; here to grow gold we lie.
Whilst in our souls sin bred and pamper’d is,
Our souls become worm-eaten carcases,        10
So we ourselves miraculously destroy.
Here bodies with less miracle enjoy
Such privileges, enabled here to scale
Heaven, when the trumpet’s air shall them exhale. 1
Hear this, and mend thyself, and thou mend’st me,        15
By making me, being dead, do good for thee;
And think me well composed, that I could now
A last sick hour to syllables allow.
Note 1. l. 14. 1669, then exhale [back]

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