John Donne Poem

To the Praise of the Dead, and the Anatomy

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Well 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 forced tears,
Whose state requites their loss: whiles thus we gain,
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?
And thou the subject of this well-born thought,
Thrice noble maid, couldst 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,
That they shall wonder both at his and thine:
Admired match! where strive 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;
Enough is us to praise 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,
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.
Yet what we give to thee, thou gav’st to us,
And mayst but thank thyself, for being thus:
Yet what thou gav’st, and wert, O happy maid,
Thy grace professed all due, where ’tis repaid.
So these high songs that to thee suited been
Serve but to sound thy maker’s praise, in thine,
Which thy dear soul as sweetly sings to him
Amid the choir of saints and seraphim,
As any angel’s tongue can sing of thee;
The subjects differ, though the skill agree:
For as by infant-years men judge of age,
Thy early love, thy virtues, did presage
What an high part thou bear’st in those best songs,
Whereto no burden, nor no end belongs.
Sing on thou virgin soul, whose lossful gain
Thy lovesick parents have bewailed in vain;
Never may thy name be in our songs forgot,
Till we shall sing thy ditty, and thy note.

A Funeral Elegy
An Anatomy of the World


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