18 May 2008

To Mr. Rowland Woodward (John Donne)

Like one who in her third widdowhood doth professe,
Her selfe a Nunne, tyed to retirednesse,
So affects my muse now, a chast fallownesse.

Since shee to few, yet to too many hath showne
How love-song weeds, and Satyrique thornes are growne
Where seeds of better Arts, were early sown.

Though to use, and love Poëtrie, to mee,
Betroth'd to no one Art, be no adulterie;
Omissions of good, ill, as ill deeds bee.

For though to us it seeme, and be light and thinne,
Yet in those faithfull scales, where God throwes in
Mens workes, vanity weighs as much as sinne.

If our Soules have stain'd their first white, yet wee
May cloth them with faith, and deare honestie,
Which God imputes, as native puritie,

There is no Vertue, but Religion,
Wise, valiant, sober, just, are names, which none
Want, which want not Vice-covering discretion.

Seeke wee then our selves in our selves; for as
Men force the Sunne with much more force to passe,
By gathering his beames with a christall glasse;

So wee, if wee into ourselves will turne,
Blowing our sparkes of vertue, may outburne
The straw, which doth about our hearts sojourne.

You know, Physitians, when they would infuse
Into any oyle, the Soules of Simples, use
Places, where they may lie still warme, to chuse.

So workes retirednesse in us; to rome
Giddily and bee every where, but at home,
Such freedome doth a banishment become.

Wee are but termers of our selves, yet may,
If we can stocke our selves, and thrive, uplay
Much, much deare treasure for the great rent day.

Manure thy selfe then, to thy selfe be approv'd,
And with vaine outward things be no more mov'd,
But to know, that I love thee and would be lov'd.

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