John Donne

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

To Sir Henry Wotton At His Going Ambassador To Venice - Poem by John Donne

AFTER those reverend papers, whose soul is
Our good and great king's loved hand and fear'd name ;
By which to you he derives much of his,
And, how he may, makes you almost the same,

A taper of his torch, a copy writ
From his oiginal, and a fair beam
Of the same warm and dazzling sun, though it
Must in another sphere his virtue stream ;

After those learned papers which your hand
Hath stored with notes of use and pleasures too,
From which rich treasury you may command
Fit matter whether you will write or do ;

After those loving papers where friends send,
With glad grief to your sea-ward steps, farewell,
Which thicken on you now, as prayers ascend
To heaven in troops, at a good man's passing-bell ;

Admit this honest paper, and allow
It such an audience as yourself would ask ;
What you must say at Venice, this means now,
And hath for nature, what you have for task.

To swear much love, not to be changed before
Honour, alone will to your fortune fit ;
Nor shall I then honour your fortune, more
Than I have done your honour, wanting it.

But 'tis an easier load, though both oppress,
To want, than govern greatness, for we are
In that, our own and only business,
In this, we must for others' vices care.

'Tis therefore well your spirits now are placed
In their last furnace, in activity ;
Which fits them—schools and courts and wars o'erpast—
To touch and test in any best degree.

For me—if there be such a thing as I—
Fortune—if there be such a thing as she—
Spies that I bear so well her tyranny,
That she thinks nothing else so fit for me.

But, though she part us, to hear my oft prayers
For your increase, God is as near me here ;
And to send you what I shall beg, His stairs
In length and ease are alike everywhere.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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