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John Donne

a 1631


on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines day

H A I L E Bishop Valentine, whose day this is,
                All the Aire is thy Diocis,
                And all the chirping Choristers
And other birds are thy Parishioners,
                  Thou marryest every yeare
The Lirique Larke, and the grave whispering Dove,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for love,
The household Bird, with the red stomacher,
            Thou mak'st the black bird speed as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon;
The husband cocke lookes out, and straight is sped,
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine,
This day, which might enflame thy self, Old Valentine.

Till now, Thou warmd'st with multiplying loves
              Two larkes, two sparrowes, or two Doves,
                All that is nothing unto this,
For thou this day couplest two Phoenixes;
                Thou mak'st a Taper see
What the sunne never saw, and what the Arke
(Which was of foules, and beasts, the cage, and park,)
Did not containe, one bed containes, through Thee,
                  Two Phoenixes, whose joyned breasts
Are unto one another mutuall nests,
Where motion kindles such fires, as shall give
Young Phoenixes, and yet the old shall live.
Whose love and courage never shall decline,
But make the whole year through, thy day, O Valentine.

Up then faire Phoenix Bride, frustrate the Sunne,
            Thy selfe from thine affection
            Takest warmth enough, and from thine eye
All lesser birds will take their Jollitie.
                    Up, up, faire Bride, and call,
Thy starres, from out their severall boxes, take
Thy Rubies, Pearles, and Diamonds forth, and make
Thy selfe a constellation, of them All,
                  And by their blazing, signifie,
That a Great Princess falls, but doth not die;
Bee thou a new starre, that to us portends
Ends of much wonder; And be Thou those ends.
Since thou dost this day in new glory shine,
May all men date Records, from this thy Valentine.

Come forth, come forth, and as one glorious flame
            Meeting Another, growes the same,
            So meet thy Fredericke, and so
To an unseparable union growe.
                Since separation
Falls not on such things as are infinite,
Nor things which are but one, can disunite,
You'are twice inseparable, great, and one;
            Goe then to where the Bishop staies,
To make you one, his way, which divers waies
Must be effected; and when all is past,
And that you'are one, by hearts and hands made fast,
You two have one way left, your selves to'entwine,
Besides this Bishops knot, or Bishop Valentine.

But oh, what ailes the Sunne, that here he staies,
            Longer to day, than other daies?
            Staies he new light from these to get?
And finding here such store, is loth to set?
                  And why doe you two walke,
So slowly pac'd in this procession?
Is all your care but to be look'd upon,
And be to others spectacle, and talke?
            The feast, with gluttonous delaies,
Is eaten, and too long their meat they praise,
The masquers come too late, and'I thinke, will stay,
Like Fairies, till the Cock crow them away.
Alas, did not Antiquity assigne
A night, as well as day, to thee, O Valentine?

They did, and night is come; and yet wee see
            Formalities retarding thee.
            What meane these Ladies, which (as though
They were to take a clock in peeces,) goe
            So nicely about the Bride;
A Bride, before a good night could be said,
Should vanish from her cloathes, into her bed,
As Soules from bodies steale, and are spy'd.
            But now she is laid; What though shee bee?
Yet there are more delayes, For, where is he?
He comes, and passes through Spheare after Spheare,
First her sheetes, then her Armes, then any where.
Let not this day, then, but this night be thine,
Thy day was but the eve to this, O Valentine.

Here lyes a shee Sunne, and a hee Moone here,
            She gives the best light to his Spheare,
            Or each is both, and all, and so
They unto one another nothing owe,
            And yet they doe, but are
So just and rich in that coyne which they pay,
That neither would, nor needs forbeare nor stay;
Neither desires to be spar'd, nor to spare,
              They quickly pay their debt, and then
Take no acquittances, but pay again;
They pay, they give, they lend, and so let fall
No such occasion to be liberall.
More truth, more courage in these two do shine,
Than all thy turtles have, and sparrows, Valentine.

And by this act these two Phenixes
            Nature againe restored is,
            For since these two are two no more,
Ther's but one Phenix still, as was before.
            Rest now at last, and wee
As Satyres watch the Sunnes uprise, will stay
Waiting, when your eyes opened, let out day,
Onely desir'd, because your face wee see;
            Others neare you shall whispering speake,
And wagers lay, at which side day will breake,
And win by'observing, then, whose hand it is
That opens first a curtaine, hers or his;
This will be tryed to morrow after nine,
Till which houre, wee thy day enlarge, O Valentine


1613. December 26

    Allophanes finding Idios in the country in Christmas time, reprehends his absence from court, at the marriage of the Earle of Sommerset, Idios gives an account of his purpose therein, and of his absence thence.

Unseasonable man, statue of ice,
    What could to countries solitude entice
Thee, in this yeares cold and decrepit time?
    Natures instinct drawes to the warmer clime
Even small birds, who by that courage dare,
    In numerous fleets, saile through their Sea, the aire.
What delicacie can in fields appeare,
    Whil'st Flora'herselfe doth a freeze jerkin weare?
Whil'st windes do all the trees and hedges strip
    Of leafes, to furnish roddes enough to whip
Thy madnesse from thee; and all springs by frost
    Have taken cold, and their sweet murmure lost;
If thou thy faults or fortunes would'st lament
    With just solemnity, do it in Lent;
At Court the spring already advanced is,
    The Sunne stayes longer up; and yet not his
The glory is, farre other, other fires.
    First, zeale to Prince and State; then loves desires
Burne in one brest, and like heavens two great lights,
    The first doth governe dayes, the other nights.
And then that early light, which did appeare
    Before the Sunne and Moone created were,
The princes favour is defus'd o'r all,
    From which all Fortunes, Names, and Natures fall;
Then from those wombes of starres, the Brides bright eyes,
    At every glance, a constellation flyes,
And sowes the Court with starres, and doth prevent
    In light and power, the all-ey'd firmament;
First her eyes kindle other Ladies eyes,
    Then from their beames their jewels lusters rise,
And from their jewels torches do take fire,
    And all is warmth, and light, and good desire;
Most other Courts, alas, are like to hell,
    Where in darke plotts, fire without light doth dwell:
Or but like Stoves, for lust and envy get
    Continuall, but artificiall heat;
Here zeale and love growne one, all clouds disgest,
    And make our Court an everlasting East.
And can'st thou be from thence?

Idios                                                              No, I am there.
As heaven, to men dispos'd, is every where,
So are those Courts, whose Princes animate
    Not onely all their house but all their State.
Let no man thinke, because he is full, he hath all,
    Kings (as their patterne, God) are liberall
Not onely in fulnesse, but capacitie,
    Enlarging narrow men, to feele and see,
And comprehend the blessings they bestow.
    So, reclus'd hermits often times do know
More of heavens glory, than a worldling can.
    As man is of the world, the heart of man,
Is an epitome of Gods great booke
    Of creatures, and man need no farther looke;
So is the Country of Courts, where sweet peace doth,
    As their one common soule, give life to both,
I am not then from Court.

Allophanes                                        Dreamer, thou art.
    Think'st thou fantastique that thou hast a part
In the East-Indian fleet, because thou hast
    A little spice, or Amber in thy taste?
Because thou art not frozen, art thou warme?
    Seest thou all good because thou seest no harme?
The earth doth in her inward bowels hold
    Stuffe well dispos'd, and which would faine be gold,
But never shall, except it chance to lye,
    So upward, that heaven gild it with his eye;
As, for divine things, faith comes from above,
    So, for best civill use, all tinctures move
From higher powers; From God religion springs,
    Wisdome, and honour from the use of Kings.
Then unbeguile thy selfe, and know with mee,
    That Angels, though on earth employd they bee,
Are still in heav'n, so is hee still at home
    That doth, abroad, to honest actions come.
Chide thy selfe then, O foole, which yesterday
    Might'st have read more than all thy books bewray;
Hast thou a history, which doth present
    A Court, where all affections do assent
Unto the Kings, and that, that Kings are just?
    And where it is no levity to trust?
Where there is no ambition, but to'obey,
    Where men need whisper nothing, and yet may;
Where the Kings favours are so plac'd, that all
    Finde that the King therein is liberall
To them, in him, because his favours bend
    To vertue, to the which they all pretend?
Thou hast no such; yet here was this, and more,
    An earnest lover, wise then, and before.
Our little Cupid hath sued Livery,
    And is no more in his minority,
Hee is admitted now into that brest
    Where the Kings Counsells and his secrets rest.
What hast thou lost, O ignorant man?

Idios                                                            I knew
    All this, and onely therefore I withdrew.
To know and feele all this, and not to have
    Words to expresse it, makes a man a grave
Of his owne thoughts; I would not therefore stay
    At a great feast, having no grace to say.
And yet I scap'd not here; for being come
    Full of the common joy, I utter'd some;
Reade then this nuptiall song, which was not made
    Either the Court or mens hearts to invade,
But since I'am dead, and buried, I could frame
    No Epitaph, which might advance my fame
So much as this poor song, which testifies
    I did unto that day some sacrifice.



T H O U are repriv'd old yeare, thou shalt not die,
Though thou upon thy death bed lye,
        And should'st within five dayes expire,
Yet thou art rescu'd by a mightier fire,
        Than thy old Soule, the Sunne,
When he doth in his largest circle runne.
The passage of the West or East would thaw,
And open wide their easie liquid jawe
To all our ships, could a Promethean art
Either unto the Northerne Pole impart
The fire of these inflaming eyes, or of this loving heart.



B U T undiscerning Muse, which heart, which eyes,
          In this new couple, dost thou prize,
          When his eye as inflaming is
As hers, and her heart loves as well as his?
          Be tryed by beauty, and then
The bridegroome is a maid, and not a man.
If by that manly courage they be tryed,
Which scornes unjust opinion; then the bride
Becomes a man. Should chance or envies Art
Divide these two, whom nature scarce did part?
Since both have both th'enflaming eyes, and both the loving heart.



T H O U G H it be some divorce to thinke of you
          Singly, so much one are you two,
          Yet let me here contemplate thee,
First cheerfull Bridegroome, and first let mee see,
          How thou prevent'st the Sunne,
And his red foming horses dost outrunne,
How, having laid downe in thy Soveraignes brest
All businesses, from thence to reinvest
Them, when these triumphs cease, thou forward art
To shew to her, who doth the like impart,
The fire of thy inflaming eyes, and of thy loving heart.



B U T now, to Thee, faire Bride, it is some wrong,
          To thinke thou wert in Bed so long,
          Since Soone thou lyest downe first, tis fit
Thou in first rising should'st allow for it.
          Ponder thy Radiant haire,
Which if without such ashes thou would'st weare,
Thou, which to all which come to looke upon,
Art meant for Phoebus, would'st be Phaëton.
For our ease, give thine eyes th'unusual part
Of joy, a Teare; so quencht, thou maist impart,
To us that come, thy inflaming eyes, to him, thy loving heart.



T H U S thou descend'st to our infirmitie,
          Who can the Sun in water see.
          Soe dost thou, when in silke and gold,
Thou cloudst thy selfe; since wee which doe behold,
          Are dust, and wormes, 'tis just
Our objects be the fruits of wormes and dust;
Let every Jewell be a glorious starre,
Yet starres are not so pure, as their spheares are.
And though thou stoope, to'appeare to us in part,
Still in that Picture thou intirely art,
Which thy inflaming eyes have made within his loving heart.



N O W from your Easts you issue forth, and wee,
          As men which through a Cipres see
          The rising sun, doe thinke it two,
Soe, as you goe to Church, doe thinke of you,
          But that vaile being gone,
By the Church rites you are from thenceforth one.
The Church Triumphant made this match before,
And now the Militant doth strive no more;
Then, reverend Priest, who Gods Recorder art,
Doe, from his Dictates, to these two impart
All blessings, which are seene, or thought, by Angels eye or heart.



B L E S T payre of Swans, Oh may you interbring
          Daily new joyes, and never sing;
          Live, till all grounds of wishes faile,
Till honor, yea till wisedome grow so stale,
          That, new great heights to trie,
It must serve your ambition, to die;
Raise heires, and may here, to the worlds end, live
Heires from this King, to take thankes, you, to give,
Nature and grace doe all, and nothing Art.
May never age, or error overthwart
With any West, these radiant eyes, with any North, this heart.



B U T you are over-blest. Plenty this day
          Injures; it causeth time to stay;
          The tables groane, as though this feast
Would, as the flood, destroy all fowle and beast.
            And were the doctrine new
That the earth mov'd, this day would make it true;
For every part to dance and revell goes.
They tread the ayre, and fal not where they rose.
Though six houres since, the Sunne to bed did part,
The masks and banquets will not yet impart
A sunset to these weary eyes, A Center to this heart.



W H A T mean'st thou Bride, this companie to keep?
          To sit up, till thou faine wouldst sleep?
          Thou maist not, when thou art laid, doe so.
Thy selfe must to him a new banquet grow,
          And you must entertains
And doe all this daies dances o'er againe.
Know that if Sun and Moone together doe
Rise in one point, they doe not set so too;
Therefore thou maist, faire Bride, to bed depart,
Thou art not gone, being gone; where e'r thou Art,
Thou leav'st in him thy watchfull eyes, in him thy loving heart.



A S he that sees a starre fall, runs apace,
          And findes a gellie in the place,
          So doth the Bridegroome haste as much,
Being told this starre is falne, and findes her such.
          And as friends may looke strange,
By a new fashion, or apparrells change,
Their soules, though long acquainted they had beene,
These clothes, their bodies, never yet had seene;
Therefore at first shee modestly might start,
But must forthwith surrender every part,
As freely, as each to each before, gave either eye or heart.



N O W, as in Tullias tombe, one lampe burnt cleare,
          Unchang'd for fifteene hundred yeare,
          May these love-lamps we here enshrine,
In warmth, light, lasting, equall the divine.
          Fire ever doth aspire,
And makes all like it selfe, turnes all to fire,
But ends in ashes, which these cannot doe,
For none of these is fuell, but fire too.
This is joyes bonfire, then, where loves strong Arts
Make of so noble individuall parts
One fire of foure inflaming eyes, and of two loving hearts.

As I have brought this song, that I may doe
          A perfect sacrifice, I'll burne it too.

No Sir. This paper I have justly got,
    For, in burnt incense, the perfume is not
His only that presents it, but of all;
    What ever celebrates this Festivall
Is common, since the joy thereof is so.
    Nor may your selfe be Priest: But let me goe,
Backe to the Court, and I will lay'it upon
    Such Altars, as prize your devotion.


T H E Sun-beames in the East are spred,
Leave, leave, faire Bride, your solitary bed,
    No more shall you returne to it alone,
It nourseth sadnesse, and your bodies print,
Like to a grave, the yielding downe doth dint;
    You and your other you meet there anon;
    Put forth, put forth that warme balme-breathing thigh,
Which when next time you in these sheets wil smother,
    There it must meet another,
        Which never was, but must be, oft, more nigh;
Come glad from thence, goe gladder than you came,
To day put on perfection, and a womans name.

Daughters of London, you which bee
Our Golden Mines, and furnish'd Treasurie,
    You which are Angels, yet still bring with you
Thousands of Angels on your mariage daies,
Help with your presence and devise to praise
    These rites, which also unto you grow due;
    Conceitedly dresse her, and be assign'd,
By you, fit place for every flower and jewell,
    Make her for love fit fewell
          As gay as Flora, and as rich as Inde;
So may shee faire, rich, glad, and in nothing lame,
To day put on perfection, and a womans name.

And you frolique Patricians,
Sonnes of these Senators wealths deep oceans,
    Ye painted courtiers, barrels of others wits,
Yee country men, who but your beasts love none,
Yee of those fellowships whereof hee's one,
    Of study and play made strange Hermaphrodits,
    Here shine; This Bridegroom to the Temple bring
Loe, in yon path which store of straw'd flowers graceth
    The sober virgin paceth;
          Except my sight faile, 'tis no other thing;
Weep not nor blush, here is no griefe nor shame,
To day put on perfection, and a womans name.

Thy two-leav'd gates faire Temple unfold,
And these two in thy sacred bosome hold,
    Till, mystically joyn'd, but one they bee;
Then may thy leane and hunger-starved wombe
Long time expect their bodies and their tombe,
    Long after their owne parents fatten thee.
    All elder claimes, and all cold barrennesse,
All yeelding to new loves bee far for ever,
    Which might these two dissever,
          All wayes all th'other may each one possesse:
For, the best Bride, best worthy of praise and fame,
To day puts on perfection, and a womans name.

Oh winter dayes bright much delight,
Not for themselves, but for they soon bring night;
    Other sweets wait thee than these diverse meats,
Other disports than dancing jollities,
Other love tricks than glancing with the eyes,
    But that the Sun still in our halfe Spheare sweates;
          Hee flies in winter, but he now stands still.
Yet shadowes turne; Noone point he hath attain'd,
    His steeds nill bee restrained, the Westerne hill;
          But gallop lively downe the Westerne hill;
Thou shalt, when he hath runne the worlds half frame,
To night put on perfection, and a womans name.

The amorous evening starre is rose,
Why then should not our amorous starre inclose
    Her selfe in her wish'd bed? Release your strings
Musicians, and dancers take some truce
With these your pleasing labours, for great use
    As much wearinesse as perfection brings;
          You, and not only you, but all toyl'd beasts
Rest duly; at night all their toyles are dispensed;
But in their beds commenced
          Are other labours, and more dainty feasts;
She goes a maid, who, lest she turne the same
To night puts on perfection, and a womans name.

Thy virgins girdle now untie,
And in thy nuptiall bed (loves altar) lye
    A pleasing sacrifice; now dispossesse
Thee of these chaines and robes which were put on
T'adorne the day, not thee; for thou, alone,
    Like vertue'and truth, art best in nakednesse;
          This bed is onely to virginitie
A grave, but, to a better state, a cradle;
Till now thou wast but able
    To be what now thou art; then that by thee
No more be said, I may bee, but, I am,
To night put on perfection, and a womans name.

Even like a faithfull man content,
That this life for a better should be spent,
    So, shee a mothers rich stile doth preferre,
And at the Bridegroomes wish'd approach doth lye,
Like an appointed lambe, when tenderly
    The priest comes on his knees t'embowell her;
          Now sleep or watch with more joy; and O lignt
Of heaven, to morrow rise thou hot, and early;
This Sun will love so dearely
          Her rest, that long, long we shall want her sight;
Wonders are wrought, for shee which had no maime,
To night puts on perfection, and a womans name.