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THE LAND OF THE WEST.

117

Here, in the midst of comparing himself to a map, and his physicians to cosmographers consulting the map, he changes without warning into a navigator whom they are trying to follow upon the map as he passes through certain straits-namely, those of the fever — towards his south-west discovery, Death. Grotesque as this is, the absurdity deepens in the end of the next stanza by a return to the former idea. He is alternately a map and a man sailing on the map of himself. But the first half of the stanza is lovely : my reader must remember that the region of the West was at that time the Land of Promise to England.

I joy that in these straits I see my West ;

For though those 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.

It is hardly worth while, except for the strangeness of the phenomenon, to spend any time in elucidating this. Once more a map, he is that of the two hemispheres, in which the east of the one touches the west of the other. Could anything be much more unmusical than the line, “In all flat maps (and I am one) are one"? But the next stanza is worse.

Is the Pacific sea my home? Or are

The eastern riches ? Is Jerusalem ?
Anvan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar ?

All straits, and none but straits are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Sem.

The meaning of the stanza is this: there is no earthly home: all these places are only straits that lead home, just as they themselves cannot be reached but through straits.

Let my reader now forget all but the first stanza, and take it along with the following, the last two:

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 wrapped, receive me, Lord ;

By these his thorns give me his other crown;
And to others' souls I preached thy word,

Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
Therefore, that he may raise, the Lord throws down.

Surely these are very fine, especially the middle verse of the former and the first verse of the latter stanza. The three stanzas together make us lovingly regret that Dr. Donne should have ridden his Pegasus over quarry and housetop, instead of teaching him

his paces.

The next I quote is artistic throughout. Perhaps the fact, of which we are informed by Izaak Walton, “that he caused it to be set to a grave and solemn tune, and to be often sung to the organ by the choristers of St. Paul's church in his own hearing, especially at the evening service,” may have something to do with its degree of perfection. There is no sign of his usual haste about it. It is even elaborately rhymed after Norman fashion, the rhymes in each stanza being consonant with the rhymes in every stanza.

DR. DONNE'S EVENING HYMN.

119

A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHIER.

2

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,

Which was my sin, though it were done before ?1
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore ? —
When thou hast done, thou hast not done;

For I have more.
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won

Others to sin, and made my sins their door ? 3
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score ? —
When thou hast done, thou hast not done;

For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine, as he shines now and heretofore ;
And having done that, thou hast done :

I fear no more.

In those days even a pun might be a serious thing : witness the play in the last stanza on the words son and sunnot a mere pun, for the Son of the Father is the Sun of Righteousness : he is Life and Light.

What the Doctor himself says concerning the hymn, appears to me not only interesting but of practical value. He “did occasionally say to a friend, • The words of this hymn have restored to me the same thoughts of joy that possessed my soul in my sickness, when I composed it.'” What a help it

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i The guilt of Adam's first sin, supposed by the theologians of Dr. Donne's time to be imputed to Adam's descendants.

2 The past tense: ran.
3 Their door to enter into sin—by his example.

would be to many, if in their more gloomy times they would but recall the visions of truth they had, and were assured of, in better moments !

Here is a somewhat strange hymn, which yet possesses, rightly understood, a real grandeur:

A HYMN TO CHRIST

1

At the Author's last going into Germany.?
In what torn ship soever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of thy ark ;
What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood.
Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,
Which, though they turn away sometimes-

They never will despise.
I sacrifice this island unto thee,
And all whom I love here and who love me :
When I have put this flood 'twixt them and me,
Put thou thy blood betwixt my sins and thee.
As the tree's sap doth seek the root below
In winter, in my winter 2

now I go
Where none but thee, the eternal root
Of true love, I may know,

Ι
Nor thou, nor thy religion, dost control
The amorousness of an harmonious soul;
But thou wouldst have that love thyself: as thou
Art jealous, Lord, so I am jealous now.
Thou lov'st not, till from loving more thou free
My soul : who ever gives, takes liberty:
Oh, if thou car'st not whom I love,

Alas, thou lov'st not me!

1 He was sent by James I. to assist an embassy to the Elector Palatine, who had married his daughter Elizabeth.

2 He had lately lost his wife, for whom he had a rare love.

DR. DONNE: HIS HOLY SONNETS.

121

Seal then this bill of my divorce to all
On whom those fainter beams of love did fall;
Marry those loves, which in youth scattered be
On face, wit, hopes, (false mistresses), to thee.
Churches are best for prayer that have least light :
To see God only, I go out of sight ;
And, to 'scape stormy days, I choose

An everlasting night.

To do justice to this poem, the reader must take some trouble to enter into the poet's mood.

It is in a measure distressing that, while I grant with all my heart the claim of his “Muse's white sincerity," the taste in—I do not say ofsome of his best poems should be such that I will not present them.

Out of twenty-three Holy Sonnets, every one of which, I should almost say, possesses something remarkable, I choose three. Rhymed after the true Petrarchian fashion, their rhythm is often as bad as it can be to be called rhythm at all. Yet these are

very fine.

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay ?

Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste ;

I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,

Despair behind, and death before doth cast

Such terror; and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee

By thy leave I can look, I rise again ;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,

That not one hour myself I can sustain :
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

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