John Donne Poem

The Soules Ignorance in This Life and Knowledge in the Next

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Poore soule, in this thy flesh what dost thou know?
Thou know’st thy selfe so little, as thou know’st not,
How thou didst die, nor how thou wast begot.
Thou neither know’st, how thou at first cam’st in,
Nor how thou took’st the poyson of mans sinne.
Nor dost thou, (though thou know’st, that thou art so)
By what way thou art made immortall, know.
Thou art too narrow, wretch, to comprehend
Even thy selfe: yea though thou wouldst but bend
To know thy body. Have not all soules thought
For many ages, that our body’is wrought
Of Ayre, and Fire, and other Elements?
And now they thinke of new ingredients,
And one Soule thinkes one, and another way
Another thinkes, and ’tis an even lay.
Knowst thou but how the stone doth enter in
The bladders cave, and never breake the skinne?
Know’st thou how blood, which to the heart doth flow,
Doth from one ventricle to th’other goe?
And for the putrid stuffe, which thou dost spit,
Know’st thou how thy lungs have attracted it?
There are no passages, so that there is
(For ought thou know’st) piercing of substances.
And of those many opinions which men raise
Of Nailes and Haires, dost thou know which to praise?
What hope have wee to know our selves, when wee
Know not the least things, which for our use be?
Wee see in Authors, too stiffe to recant,
A hundred controversies of an Ant;
And yet one watches, starves, freezes, and sweats,
To know but Catechismes and Alphabets
Of unconcerning things, matters of fact
How others on our stage their parts did Act;
What Caesar did, yea, and what Cicero said.
Why grasse is greene, or why our blood is red,
Are mysteries which none have reach’d unto.
In this low forme, poore soule, what wilt thou doe?
When wilt thou shake off this Pedantery,
Of being taught by sense, and Fantasie?
Thou look’st through spectacles; small things seeme great
Below; But up unto the watch-towre get,
And see all things despoyl’d of fallacies:
Thou shalt not peepe through lattices of eyes,
Nor heare through Labyrinths of eares, nor learne
By circuit, or collections to discerne.
In heaven thou straight know’st all, concerning it,
And what concernes it not, shalt straight forget.

The Poet Turned Lawyer
Son of God, hear us, and since Thou


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