John Donne Poem

Elegy upon the Untimely Death of the Incomparable Prince Henry

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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,
All that this natural world doth comprehend:
Quotidian things, and equidistant hence,
Shut in, for man, in one circumference.
But, for th’ enormous greatnesses, which are
So disproportioned, and so angular,
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,
Almost meets faith, and makes both centres one.
And nothing ever came so near to this,
As contemplation of that Prince, we miss.
For, all that faith might credit mankind could,
Reason still seconded, that this Prince would.
If then least moving of the centre, make
More, than if whole hell belched, 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,
Whose reputation was an ecstasy
On neighbour States, which knew not why to wake,
Till he discovered what ways he would take;
For whom, what princes angled, when they tried,
Met a torpedo, and were stupefied;
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?
Was it not well believed, that he would make
This general peace, th’ eternal overtake,
And that his times might have stretched 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
That, but from his aspect and exercise,
In peaceful times, rumours of wars did rise.
But now this faith is heresy: we must
Still stay, and vex our great-grandmother, dust.
Oh, is God prodigal? hath he spent his store
Of plagues, on us, and only now, when more
Would ease us much, doth he grudge misery,
And will not let’us enjoy our curse, to die?
As, for the earth thrown lowest down of all,
‘Twere an ambition to desire to fall,
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,
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
—With grief to see him— he had stayed below,
To rectify our errors, they foreknow.
Is th’ other centre, reason, faster then?
Where should we look for that, now we’are not men?
For if our reason be our connexion
Of causes, now to us there can be none.
For, as, if all the substances were spent,
‘Twere madness to inquire of accident,
So is ‘t to look for reason, he being gone,
The only subject reason wrought upon.
If Fate have such a chain, whose divers links
Industrious man discerneth, as he thinks,
When miracle doth come, and so steal in
A new link, man knows not where to begin:
At a much deader fault must reason be,
Death having broke off such a link as he.
But, now, for us with busy proof to come
That we’have no reason, would prove we had some.
So would just lamentations: therefore we
May safelier say, that we are dead, than he.
So, if our griefs we do not well declare,
We’have double excuse; he’is not dead; and we are.
Yet I would not die yet; for though I be
Too narrow, to think him, as he is he,
—Our soul’s best baiting and mid-period
In her long journey of considering God—
(Yet, no dishonour)I can reach him thus,
As he embraced the fires of love with us.
Oh may I (since I live) but see, or hear,
That she-intelligence which moved this sphere,
I pardon Fate, my life: who e’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 sighed, that if you see
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.

Obsequies of the Lord Harrington, Brother to the Countess of Bedford
Upon Mr Thomas Coryat's Crudities


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