Another of Joan’s English Major Moments

I haven’t had an English major moment for a while, but I came across part of this poem in my daily devotional, had to look up the rest, and now I want to share.  It’s uncertain if this poem was actually written on John Donne’s deathbed, but certainly at a time when he thought he could die.  I love the image of the Christian as God’s music!

Hymn to God, My God, In My Sickness

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

For more of Joan’s English major moments, see these posts:

An English Major Moment from Joan\

Another English Major Moment

More Rest In Nature + English Major Moment!

John Donne, Again

John Donne was an English clergyman and one of the metaphysical poets.  This poem celebrates the victory of God over the evil of death.

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)

John Donne – 1571-1631

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

For more by John Donne, see these posts:

A Quote By John Donne

John Donne on the Church

A John Donne Sonnet on Freedom

 

John Donne on Repentance

I haven’t had an English major moment for a while, so I thought I’d share John Donne’s Holy Sonnet #7.  It’s a good reminder that we need to repent today:  at some point, it will be too late.

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes
Shall behold God and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For if above all these my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace
When we are there; here on this lowly ground
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood.

A Joyful Direction

The quote below comes from a sermon preached by John Donne in the early 17th century, during a time of plague.  It reminds us that our ultimate, joyful destination is an expansion and continuation of the joy we experience in Christ right now.

“Howling is the noise of hell; singing the voice of heaven. Sadness the damp of hell; rejoicing the serenity of heaven. And he that hath not this joy here lacks one of the best pieces of his evidence for the joys of heaven, and hath neglected or refused that earnest by which God uses to bind his bargain, that true joy in this world shall flow into the joy of heaven as a river flows into the sea. This joy shall not be put out in death and a new joy kindled in me in heaven. But as my soul, as soon as it is out of my body, is in heaven, and does not stay for the possession of heaven nor for the fruition of the sight of God till it be ascended through air, and fire, and moon, and sun, and planets, and firmament to that place which we conceive to be heaven, but without the thousandth part of a minute’s stop, as soon as it issues, is in a glorious light, which is heaven…The true joy of a good soul in this world is the very joy of heaven. And we go thither, not that being without joy we might have joy infused into us, but that, as Christ says, ‘our joy might be full’ (John 16:24), perfected, sealed with an everlastingness. For as he promises that ‘no man shall take our joy from us’ (v. 22), so neither shall Death itself take it away, nor so much as interrupt it or discontinue it. But as in the face of Death, when he lays hold upon me, and in the face of the devil, when he attempts me, I shall see the face of God (for everything shall be a glass, to reflect God upon me), so in the agonies of death, in the anguish of that dissolution, in the sorrows of that valediction, in the irreversibleness of that transmigration, I shall have a joy which shall no more evaporate than my soul shall evaporate—a joy that shall pass up and put on a more glorious garment above and be joy super-invested in glory. Amen.”7

A Poem by John Donne: Nativity

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

We’re All Involved

Some of you probably saw this one coming–you know I love John Donne.

Image result for no man is an island

John Donne on the Trinity

This is only the first part of a litany by John Donne (my English major moment) that  deals with the trinity.

A LITANY.I.

THE FATHER.

FATHER of Heaven, and Him, by whom
It, and us for it, and all else for us,
Thou madest, and govern’st ever, come
And re-create me, now grown ruinous:
My heart is by dejection, clay,
And by self-murder, red.
From this red earth, O Father, purge away
All vicious tinctures, that new-fashioned
I may rise up from death, before I’m dead.

II.THE SON.

O Son of God, who, seeing two things,
Sin and Death, crept in, which were never made,
By bearing one, tried’st with what stings
The other could Thine heritage invade ;
O be Thou nail’d unto my heart,
And crucified again ;
Part not from it, though it from Thee would part,
But let it be by applying so Thy pain,
Drown’d in Thy blood, and in Thy passion slain.

III.

THE HOLY GHOST.

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls , and condensèd dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires of pride and lust,
Must with new storms be weather-beat,
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend, and let—
Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim—
Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.

IV.

THE TRINITY.

O blessed glorious Trinity,
Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith,
Which, as wise serpents, diversely
Most slipperiness, yet most entanglings hath,
As you distinguish’d, undistinct,
By power, love, knowledge be,
Give me a such self different instinct,
Of these let all me elemented be,
Of power, to love, to know you unnumbered three.

A Quote By John Donne

It’s my English major moment for the month:

“Though so disobedient a servant as I may be afraid to die, yet to so merciful a master as thou I cannot be afraid to come.”

John Donne

John Donne
John Donne was an English poet and cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets.

John Donne on the Church

Do you like this metaphor?  I like the idea that the church is a book that will one day be completely translated into a new and better language (but then I love books and libraries).
Engraving from Thomas More's 'Utopia'
fromDevotions Upon Emergent OccasionsMEDITATION XVII.

NUNC LENTO SONITU DICUNT, MORIERIS.

Now this bell tolling softly for another,
says to me, Thou must die.

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him.  And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.  The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all.  When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.  And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

A John Donne Sonnet on Freedom

HOLY SONNETS. XIV.

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ; That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end. Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betroth’d unto your enemy ; Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Source: Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I. E. K. Chambers, ed. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 165.

 

 As you can see, according to Donne, Christian freedom is a paradox:  we are only free when Christ “imprisons” or “enthralls” us.  What do you think?