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Hast thou not found each woman's breast
(The land where thou hast travelled)
Either by savages possest,
Or wild, and uninhabited ?
What joy could'st take, or what repose,
In countries so unciviliz'd as those ?
Lust, the scorching dog-star, here
Rages with immoderate heat;
Whilst Pride, the rugged northern bear,
In others makes the cold too great.
And where these are temperate known,
The soil's all barren sand, or rocky stone.
A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared to Egypt.
The fate of Egypt I sustain,
And never feel the dew of rain
From clouds which in the head appear ;
But all my too much moisture owe
To overflowings of the heart below.
The lover supposes his lady acquainted with the ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice.
And yet this death of mine, I fear,
Will ominous to her appear:
When, sound in every other part,
Her sacrifice is found without an heart.
For the last tempest of my death
Shall sigh out that too, with my breath.
That the chaos was harmonised, has been recited of old ; but whence the different sounds arose remained for a modern to discover.
Th' ungovern'd parts no correspondence knew,
An artless war from thwarting motions grew,
Till they to number and fixt rules were brought.
Water and air he for the tenor chose,
Earth made the base, the treble flame arose.
The tears of lovers arc always of great poetical account; but Donne has ex. tended them into worlds. If the lines are not easily understood, they may be read again.
On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all:
So doth each tear,
Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears, mixt with mine, do overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee my heaven dissolved so.
On reading the following lines, the reader may perhaps cry out-Confusion worse confounded.
Who but Donne would have thought, that a good man is a telescope ?
Though God be our true glass, through which we see
All, since the being of all things is he ;
Yet are the trunks, which do to us derive
Things in proportion, fit by perspective,
Deeds of good men; for by their living here,
Virtues, indeed remote, seem to be near.
Who would imagine it possible, that in a very few lines so many remote ideas could be brought together?
Since 'tis my doom, Love's undershrieve,
Why this reprieve?
Why doth my she Advowson fly
To sell thyself dost thou intend
By candle's end,
And hold the contrast thus in doubt,
Life's taper out?
Think but how soon the market fails,
Your sex lives faster than the males ;
And if to measure age's span,
The sober Julian were th' account of man,
Whilst you live by the fleet Gregorian.
Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples :
By every wind that comes this way,
Send me at least a sigh or two,
Such and so many I'll repay
As shall themselves make winds to get to you.
In tears I'll waste these eyes,
By love so vainly fed ;
So lust of old the Deluge punished.
All arm'd in brass, the richest dress of war,
(4 dismal glorious sight!) he shone afar.
The Sun himself started with sudden fright,
To see his beams return so dismal bright,
Upon a paper written with the juice of lemon, and read by the fire:
Nothing yet in thee is seen,
But when a genial heat warms thee within,
A new-born wood of various lines there grows;
Here buds ap L, and there a B,
Here spouts a V, and there a T,
And all the flourishing letters stand in rows.
As they sought only for novelty, they did not much inquire whether their allusions were to things high or low, elegant or gross: whether they compared the little to the great, or the great to the little.
Physic and Chirurgery for a Lover.
Gently, ah gently, madam, touch
The wound, which you yourself have made;
That pain must needs be very much,
Which makes me of your hand afraid.
Cordials of pity give me now,
For I too weak of purgings grow.
The World and a Clock.
Mahol th' inferior world's fantastic face
Through all the turns of matter's maze did trace;
Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took;
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look
Of life and motion, and with equal art
Made up the whole again of every part.
A coal-pit has not often found its poet: but, that it may not want its due honour,
Cleiveland has paralleled it with the Sun :
The moderate value of our guiltless ore
Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore ;
Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine
Deserve more honour than a faming mine?
These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be,
Than a few embers, for a deity.
Had he our pits, the Persian would admire
No sun, but warm's devotion at our fire:
He'd leave the trotting whipster, and prefer
Our profound Vulcan ’bove that waggoner.
For wants he heat, or light? or would have store,
Or both? 'tis here: and what can suns give more?
Nay, what's the Sun, but, in a different name,
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flame!
Then let this truth reciprocally run,
The Sun's Heaven's coalery, and coals our sun.
Death, a Voyage:
E'er rigg'd a soul for Heaven's discovery,
With whom more venturers might boldly dare
Venture their stakes, with him in joy to share.
Their thoughts and expressions were sometimes grossly absurd, and such as no figure or licence can reconcile to the understanding.
A Lover neither dead nor alive :
Then down I laid my head
Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead,
And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled;
Ah, sottish soul, said I,
When back to its cage again I saw it fly;
Fool to resume her broken chain,
And row her galley here again !
Fool, to that body to return
Where it condemn'd and de tin'd is to burn!
The poetical propagation of Light:
The prince's favour is diffus'd o'er all,
From which all fortunes, names, and natures fall :
Then from those wombs of stars, the bride's bright eyes,
At every glance a constellation flies,
And sowes the court with stars, and doth prevent,
In light and power, the all-ey'd firmament :
First her eye kindles other ladies' eyes,
Then from their beams their jewels lustres rise:
And from their jcwels torches do take fire,
And all is warmth, and light, and good desire.
They were in very little care to clothe their notions with elegance of dress, and therefore miss the notice and the praise which are often gained by those who think less, but are more diligent to adorn their thoughts.
That a Mistress beloved is fairer in idea than in reality, is by Cowley thus expressed :
Tbou in my fancy dost much higher stand,
Than woman can be plac'd by Nature's liand;
And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be,
To change thee as thou’rt there, for very thee.
That prayer and labour should co-operate, are thus taught by Donne:
In none but us are such mix'd engines found,
As hands of double office; for the ground
We till with them; and them to Heaven we raise;
Who prayerless labours, or, without this, prays,
Doth but one half, that's none.
By the same author, a common topic, the danger of procrastination, is thus illustrated :
That which I should have begun
In my youth's morning, now late must be done;
And I, as giddy travellers must do,
Which stray or seep all day, and having lost
Light and stiength, dark and tir'd, must then ride post.