John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

To Sir Henry Wotton II


HERE'S no more news than virtue ; I may as well
Tell you Calais, or Saint Michael's tales, as tell
That vice doth here habitually dwell.

Yet as, to get stomachs, we walk up and down,
And toil to sweeten rest ; so, may God frown,
If, but to loathe both, I haunt court or town.

For, here, no one's from th' extremity
Of vice by any other reason free,
But that the next to him still 's worse than he.

In this world's warfare, they whom rugged Fate
(God's commissary) doth so throughly hate,
As in the court's squadron to marshal their state ;

if they stand arm'd with silly honesty,
With wishes, prayers, and neat integrity,
Like Indians 'gainst Spanish hosts they be.

Suspicious boldness to this place belongs,
And to have as many ears as all have tongues ;
Tender to know, tough to acknowledge wrongs.

Believe me, sir, in my youth's giddiest days,
When to be like the court was a play's praise,
Plays were not so like courts, as courts like plays.

Then let us at these mimic antics jest,
Whose deepest projects and egregious gests
Are but dull morals of a game at chests.

But now 'tis incongruity to smile,
Therefore I end ; and bid farewell awhile ;
“ At court,”—though “ from court” were the better style.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010
Edited: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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