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John Donne

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

To The Praise Of The Dead And The Anatomy


VVEll dy'de the World, that we might liue to see
This World of wit, in his Anatomee:
No euill wants his good: so wilder heyres;
Bedew their Fathers Toombs, with forced teares,
Whose state requites their losse: whiles thus we gaine
Well may we walke in black[e], but not complaine.
Yet how can I consent the world is dead
While this Muse liues? which in his spirits stead
Seemes to informe a world: and bids it bee,
In spight of losse, or fraile mortalitee?
And thou the subiect of this wel-borne thought,
Thrise noble Maid; couldst not haue found nor sought
A fitter time to yeeld to thy sad Fate,
Then whiles this spirit liues; that can relate
Thy worth so well to our last Nephews Eyne,
That they shall wonder both at his, and thine:
Admired match! where striues in mutuall grace
The cunning Pencill, and the comely face:
A taske, which thy faire goodnesse made too much
For the bold pride of vulgar pens to tuch;
Enough is vs to praise them that praise thee,
And say that but enough those prayses bee,
Which had'st thou liu'd, had hid their fearefull head
From th'angry checkings of thy modestred:
Death bars reward & shame: when enuy's gone,
And gaine; 'tis safe to giue the dead their owne.
As then the wise Egyptians wont to lay
More on their Tombes, then houses: these of clay,
But those of brasse, or marbele were; so wee
Giue more vnto thy Ghost, then vnto thee.
Yet what wee giue to thee, thou gauest to vs,
And maiest but thanke thy selfe, for being thus:
Yet what thou gau'st, and wert, O happy maid,
Thy grace profest all due, were 'tis repayd.
So these high songs that to thee suited bine,
Serue but to sound thy makers praise, in thine,
Which thy deare soule as sweetly sings to him
Amid the Quire of Saints and Seraphim,
As any Angels tongue can sing of thee;
The subiects differ, then the skill agree:
For as by infant-yeares men iudge of age,
Thy early loue, thy vertues, did presage
What hie part thou bear'st in those best songs
Whereto no burden, nor no end belongs.
Sing on thou Virgin soule, whose losseful gaine
Thy loue-sicke Parents haue bewail'd in vaine;
Neuer may thy Name be in our songs forgot.
Till we shall sing thy ditty, and thy note.

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

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