By John Donne
To Mr. Christopher Brooke, From the Island
Voyage with they Earl of Essex
Thou which art I—'tis nothing to be
Thou which art still thyself, by these shalt know
Part of our passage
; and a hand or eye
By Hilliard drawn is worth a history
By a worse
painter made ; and, without pride,
When by thy judgement they are
My lines are such. 'Tis the pre-eminence
Of friendship only
to impute excellence.
England, to whom we owe what we be and have,
that her sons did seek a foreign grave
—For Fate's or Fortune's drifts none
can soothsay ;
Honor and misery have one face, and way—
From out her
pregnant entrails sigh'd a wind,
Which at th' air's middle marble room did
Such strong resistance, that itself it threw
Downward again ; and so
when it did view
How in the port our fleet dear time did leese,
like prisoners, which lie but for fees,
Mildly it kiss'd our sails, and fresh
—As to a stomach starved, whose insides meet,
Meat comes—it came
; and swole our sails, when we
So joy'd, as Sarah her swelling joy'd to
But 'twas but so kind as our countrymen,
Which bring friends one
day's way, and leave them then.
Then like two mighty kings, which dwelling
Asunder, meet against a third to war,
The south and west winds join'd,
and, as they blew,
Waves like a rolling trench before them threw.
than you read this line, did the gale,
Like shot, not fear'd till felt, our
sails assail ;
And what at first was call'd a gust, the same
Hath now a
storm's, anon a tempest's name.
Jonas, I pity thee, and curse those
Who, when the storm raged most, did wake thee then.
Sleep is pain's
easiest salve, and doth fulfil
All offices of death, except to kill.
when I waked, I saw that I saw not ;
I, and the sun, which should teach me,
East, west, day, night ; and I could only say,
If th' world had
lasted, now it had been day.
Thousands our noises were, yet we 'mongst
Could none by his right name, but thunder, call.
Lightning was all our
light, and it rain'd more
Than if the sun had drunk the sea before.
coffin'd in their cabins lie, equally
Grieved that they are not dead, and yet
must die ;
And as sin-burden'd souls from grave will creep
At the last
day, some forth their cabins peep,
And trembling ask, “ What news ?” and do
As jealous husbands, what they would not know.
Some sitting on the
hatches would seem there
With hideous gazing to fear away fear.
they the ship's sicknesses, the mast
Shaked with an ague, and the hold and
With a salt dropsy clogg'd, and all our tacklings
too-too-high-stretch'd treble strings.
And from our tatter'd sails rags drop
As from one hang'd in chains a year ago.
Even our ordnance,
placed for our defence,
Strive to break loose, and 'scape away from
Pumping hath tired our men, and what's the gain ?
Seas into seas
thrown, we suck in again ;
Hearing hath deaf'd our sailors, and if
Knew how to hear, there's none knows what to say.
Compared to these
storms, death is but a qualm,
Hell somewhat lightsome, the Bermudas
Darkness, light's eldest brother, his birthright
Claims o'er the
world, and to heaven hath chasèd light.
All things are one, and that one none
Since all forms uniform deformity
Doth cover ; so that we, except
Another Fiat, shall have no more day.
So violent, yet long,
these furies be,
That though thine absence starve me, I wish not thee.