John Donne

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

To Sir Henry Goodyere - Poem by John Donne

WHO makes the last a pattern for next year,
Turns no new leaf, but still the same things reads ;
Seen things he sees again, heard things doth hear,
And makes his life but like a pair of beads.

A palace, when 'tis that which it should be,
Leaves growing, and stands such, or else decays ;
But he which dwells there is not so ; for he
Strives to surge upward, and his fortune raise.

So had your body her morning, hath her noon,
And shall not better ; her next change is night ;
But her fair, larger guest, to whom sun and moon
Are sparks, and short-lived, claims another right.

The noble soul by age grows lustier ;
Her appetite and her digestion mend.
We must not starve, nor hope to pamper her
With women's milk, and pap, unto the end.

Provide you manlier diet. You have seen
All libraries, which are schools, camps, and courts ;
But ask your garners if you have not been
In harvest too indulgent to your sports.

Would you redeem it ? then yourself transplant
Awhile from hence. Perchance outlandish ground
Bears no more wit than ours ; but yet more scant
Are those diversions there, which here abound.

To be a stranger hath that benefit,
We can beginnings, but not habits choke.
Go—whither ? hence. You get, if you forget ;
New faults, till they prescribe to us, are smoke.

Our soul, whose country's heaven, and God her Father,
Into this world, corruption's sink, is sent ;
Yet so much in her travel she doth gather,
That she returns home wiser than she went.

It pays you well, if it teach you to spare,
And make you ashamed to make your hawks' praise yours,
Which when herself she lessens in the air,
You then first say, that high enough she towers.

However, keep the lively taste you hold
Of God ; love Him as now, but fear Him more ;
And in your afternoons think what you told
And promised Him, at morning prayer before.

Let falsehood like a discord anger you,
Else not be froward. But why do I touch
Things of which none is in your practice new ?
And fables, or fruit-trenchers teach as much.

But thus I make you keep your promise, sir,
Riding I had you, though you still stay'd there ;
And in these thoughts, although you never stir,
You came with me to Mitcham, and are here.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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