Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
An Anatomy of the World
The First Anniversary
To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy
[By Joseph Hall]
Wherein, by occasion of the untimely death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the frailty and the decay of this whole world is represented

WELL 1 died the world, that we might live to see
This world of wit, in his Anatomy.
No evil wants his good; so wilder heirs
Bedew their fathers’ tombs with forcèd tears,
Whose state requites their loss; whiles thus we gain,        5
Well may we walk in blacks, but not complain.
Yet how can I consent the world is dead,
While this Muse lives, which in his spirit’s stead
Seems to inform a world, and bids it be,
In spite of loss or frail mortality?        10
And thou, the subject of this well-born thought,
Thrice noble maid, could’st not have found nor sought
A fitter time to yield to thy sad fate,
Than whiles this spirit lives, that can relate
Thy worth so well to our last nephews’ eyne,        15
That they shall wonder both at his and thine.
Admired match! where strives in mutual grace
The cunning pencil, and the comely face;
A task which thy fair goodness made too much
For the bold pride of vulgar pens to touch.        20
Enough is us to praise 2 them that praise thee,
And say, that but enough those praises be,
Which, hadst thou lived, had hid their fearful head
From th’ angry checkings of thy modest red.
Death bars reward and shame; when envy’s gone,        25
And gain, ’tis safe to give the dead their own.
As then the wise Egyptians wont to lay
More on their tombs than houses; these of clay,
But those of brass or marble were; so we
Give more unto thy ghost than unto thee.        30
Yet what we give to thee, thou gavest to us,
And may’st but thank thyself for being thus.
Yet what thou gavest and wert, O happy maid,
Thy grace profess’d all due, where ’tis repaid.
So these high songs, that to thee suited bin,        35
Serve but to sound thy Maker’s praise in thine, 3
Which thy dear soul as sweetly sings to him
Amid the choir of saints, and Seraphim,
As any angel’s tongue 4 can sing of thee.
The subjects differ, though the skill agree.        40
For as by infant years men judge of age,
Thy early love, thy virtues, did presage
What high part thou bear’st in those best of songs,
Whereto no burden nor no end belongs.
Sing on, thou virgin soul, whose lossful gain        45
Thy lovesick parents have bewail’d in vain;
Ne’er may thy name be in our songs 5 forgot,
Till we shall sing thy ditty and thy note.
Note 1. The entry into the work. [back]
Note 2. l. 21. 1669, it is to praise [back]
Note 3. l. 36. 1633, and thine [back]
Note 4. l. 39. 1650, tongues [back]
Note 5. l. 47. 1650, Never … in our songs; 1669, Never … in songs [back]

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