Verse > Anthologies > Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. > Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th c.
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Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C.  1921.
 
John Donne
 
123. Satyre
 
KINDE pitty chokes my spleene; brave scorn forbids 
Those tears to issue which swell my eye-lids; 
I must not laugh, nor weepe sinnes, and be wise, 
Can railing then cure these worne maladies? 
Is not our Mistresse faire Religion,         5
As worthy of all our Soules devotion, 
As vertue was to the first blinded age? 
Are not heavens joyes as valiant to asswage 
Lusts, as earths honour was to them? Alas, 
As wee do them in meanes, shall they surpasse  10
Us in the end, and shall thy fathers spirit 
Meete blinde Philosophers in heaven, whose merit 
Of strict life may be imputed faith, and heare 
Thee, whom hee taught so easie wayes and neare 
To follow, damn'd? O if thou dar'st, feare this;  15
This feare great courage, and high valour is. 
Dar'st thou ayd mutinous Dutch, and dar'st thou lay 
Thee in ships woodden Sepulchers, a prey 
To leaders rage, to stormes, to shot, to dearth? 
Dar'st thou dive seas, and dungeons of the earth?  20
Hast thou couragious fire to thaw the ice 
Of frozen North discoueries? and thrise 
Colder then Salamanders, like divine 
Children in th'oven, fires of Spaine, and the line, 
Whose countries limbecks to our bodies bee,  25
Canst thou for gaine beare? and must every hee 
Which cryes not, Goddesse, to thy Mistresse, draw, 
Or eate thy poysonous words? courage of straw! 
O desperate coward, wilt thou seeme bold, and 
To thy foes and his (who made thee to stand  30
Sentinell in his worlds garrison) thus yeeld, 
And for forbidden warres, leave th'appointed field? 
Know thy foes: The foule Devill (whom thou 
Strivest to please,) for hate, not love, would allow 
Thee faine, his whole Realme to be quit; and as  35
The worlds all parts wither away and passe, 
So the worlds selfe, thy other lov'd foe, is 
In her decrepit wayne, and thou loving this, 
Dost love a withered and worne strumpet; last, 
Flesh (it selfes death) and joyes which flesh can taste,  40
Thou lovest; and thy faire goodly soule, which doth 
Give this flesh power to taste joy, thou dost loath. 
Seeke true religion. O where? Mirreus 
Thinking her unhous'd here, and fled from us, 
Seekes her at Rome; there, because hee doth know  45
That shee was there a thousand yeares agoe, 
He loves her ragges so, as wee here obey 
The statecloth where the Prince sate yesterday. 
Crantz to such brave Loves will not be inthrall'd, 
But loves her onely, who at Geneva is call'd  50
Religion, plaine, simple, sullen, yong, 
Contemptuous, yet unhansome; As among 
Lecherous humors, there is one that judges 
No wenches wholsome, but course country drudges, 
Graius stayes still at home here, and because  55
Some Preachers, vile ambitious bauds, and lawes 
Still new like fashions, bid him thinke that shee 
Which dwels with us, is onely perfect, hee 
Imbraceth her, whom his Godfathers will 
Tender to him, being tender, as Wards still  60
Take such wives as their Guardians offer; or 
Pay valewes. Carelesse Phrygius doth abhorre 
All, because all cannot be good, as one 
Knowing some women whores, dares marry none. 
Graccus loves all as one, and thinkes that so  65
As women do in divers countries goe 
In divers habits, yet are still one kinde, 
So doth, so is Religion; and this blind- 
nesse too much light breeds; but unmoved thou 
Of force must one, and forc'd but one allow;  70
And the right; aske thy father which is shee, 
Let him aske his; though truth and falshood bee 
Neare twins, yet truth a little elder is; 
Be busie to seeke her, beleeve mee this, 
Hee 's not of none, nor worst, that seekes the best  75
To adore, or scorne an image, or protest, 
May all be bad; doubt wisely; in strange way 
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray; 
To sleepe, or runne wrong, is. On a huge hill, 
Cragged, and steep, Truth stands, and hee that will  80
Reach her, about must, and about must goe; 
And what the hills suddennes resists, winne so; 
Yet strive so, that before age, deaths twilight, 
Thy Soule rest, for none can worke in that night. 
To will, implyes delay, therefore now doe:  85
Hard deeds, the bodies paines; hard knowledge too 
The mindes indeavours reach, and mysteries 
Are like the Sunne, dazling, yet plaine to all eyes. 
Keepe the truth which thou hast found; men do not stand 
In so ill case here, that God hath with his hand  90
Sign'd Kings blanck-charters to kill whom they hate, 
Nor are they Vicars, but hangmen to Fate. 
Foole and wretch, wilt thou let thy Soule be tyed 
To mans lawes, by which she shall not be tryed 
At the last day? Oh, will it then boot thee  95
To say a Philip, or a Gregory, 
A Harry, or a Martin taught thee this? 
Is not this excuse for mere contraries, 
Equally strong? cannot both sides say so? 
That thou mayest rightly obey power, her bounds know; 100
Those past, her nature, and name is chang'd; to be 
Then humble to her is idolatrie. 
As streames are, Power is; those blest flowers that dwell 
At the rough streames calme head, thrive and do well, 
But having left their roots, and themselves given 105
To the streames tyrannous rage, alas, are driven 
Through mills, and rockes, and woods, and at last, almost 
Consum'd in going, in the sea are lost: 
So perish Soules, which more chuse mens unjust 
Power from God claym'd, then God himselfe to trust. 110
 
 
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