Commemorating John Donne

Published by Jeff West on Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:54
Jeff's blog

Today, 31 March, the Church of England commemorates John Donne, priest and poet, who died on this day in 1631.  I must admit he's not my favourite 17th-century Anglican poet - I'm more at home with George Herbert, Henry Vaughan and Thomas Traherne, and find Donne's style sometimes rather contrived and artificial - but it was an age that valued artifice, and so he should perhaps be forgiven.  But here, not too contrived, are the last two verses of his poem, "Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness":


We think that paradise and Calvary,

Christ's cross and Adam's tree, stood in one place:

Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;

As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,

May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.


So, in his purple wrapped receive me Lord,

By these his thorns give me his other crown;

And as to others' souls I preached thy word,

Be this my text, my sermon to mine own,

Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down.


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