by John Donne
At the Marriage of the Earl of Sommerset
1613. December 26Allophanes 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.