John Donne Poems >>
An Anatomy Of The World...
AN ANATOMY OF THE WORLD Wherein, by occasion of the untimely death of
Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the frailty and the decay of this whole world is
represented THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY
When that rich soule which to her heauen is gone,
Whom all doe celebrate, who know they haue one
(For who is sure he hath a soule, vnlesse
It see, and Iudge, and follow worthinesse,
And by Deedes praise it; Hee who doth not this,
May lodge an Inmate soule, but tis not his.)
When that Queene ended here her progresse time.
And, as t'her standing house, to heauen did clymbe,
Where loath to make the Saints attend her long,
Shee's now a part both of the Quire, and Song.
This, world, in that great earthquake languished;
For in a common Bath of teares it bled,
Which drew the strongest vitall spirits out:
But succour'd then with a perplexed doubt,
Whether the world did loose or gaine in this,
(Because since now no other way there is,
But goodnesse, to see her, whom all would see,
All must endeauour to bee good as shee.)
This great consumption to a feuer turn'd,
And so the world had fits; it ioy'd, it mournd,
And, as men thinke, that Agues Physicke are,
And the Ague being spent, giue ouer care,
So thou sicke world, mistak'st thy selfe to bee
Well, when alas, thou'rt in a Letargee.
Her death did wound and tame thee than, and than
Thou might'st haue better spar'd the Sunne, or Man.
That wound was deepe, but 'tis more misery,
That thou hast lost thy sense and memory.
T'was heauy then to heare thy voice of mone,
But this is worse, that thou art speechlesse growne.
Thou hast forgot thy name, thou hadst; thou wast
Nothing but she, and her thou hast o'repast.
For as a child kept from the Fount, vntill
A Prince, expected long, come to fulfill
The Cermonies, thou vnnam'd hadst laid,
Had not her comming, thee her Palace made:
Her name defin'd thee, gaue thee forme and frame,
And thou forget'st to celebrate thy name.
Some moneths shee hath bene dead (but being dead,
Measures of times are all determined)
But long shee'ath beene away, long, long, yet none
Offers to tell vs who it is that's gone.
But as in states doubtfull of future heyres,
When sicknesse without remedy, empayres
The present Prince, they're loth it should be said,
The Prince doth languish, or the Prince is dead:
So mankinde feeling now a generall thaw,
A strong example gone equall to law.
The Cyment which did faithfully compact
And glue all vertues, now resolu'd, and slack'd,
Thought it was some blasphemy to say sh' was dead;
Or that our weakness was discouered
In that confession; therefore spoke no more
Then tongues, the soule being gonne, the losse deplore.
But though it be too late to succour thee,
Sicke world, yea dead, yea putrified, since shee
Thy'ntrinsique Balme, and thy preseruatiue,
Can neuer be renew'd, thou neuer liue,
I (since no man can make thee liue) will trie,
What we may gaine by thy Anatomy.
Her death hath taught vs dearely, that thou art
Corrupt and mortall in thy purest part.
Let no man say, the world it selfe being dead,
Tis labour lost to haue discouered.
The worlds infirmities, since there is none
Aliue to study this dissection; [VVhat life the vvorld hath stil.]
For there's a kind of world remaining still,
Though shee which did inanimate and fill
The world, begone, yet in this last long night,
Her Ghost doth walke, that is, a glimmering light,
A faint weake loue of vertue and of good
Reflects from her, on them which vnderstood
Her worth; And though she haue shut in all day,
The twi-light of her memory doth stay;
Which, from the carkasse of the old world, free
Creates a new world; and new creatures bee
Produc'd: The matter and the stuffe of this,
Her vertue, and the forme our practise is.
And thought to be thus Elemented, arme
These creatures, from hom-borne intrinsique harme,
(For all assumed vnto this Dignitee,
So many weedlesse Paradises bee,
Which of themselues produce no venemous sinne,
Except some forraine Serpent bring it in)
Yet, because outward stormes the strongest breake,
And strength it selfe by confidence growes weake,
This new world may be safer, being told. [The sickenesse of the vvorld]
The dangers and diseases of the old:
For with due temper men doe then forgoe,
Or couet things, when they their true worth know.
There is no health; Phisitians say that we
At best, enioy, but a neutralitee.
And can there be worse sicknes, then to know [Impossibility of health.]
That we are neuer well, nor can be so?
We are borne ruinous: poore mothers cry,
That children come not right, nor orderly:
Except they headlong come and fall vpon
An ominous precipitation.
How witty's ruine? how impotunate
Vpon mankinde? It labour'd to frustrate
Euen Gods purpose; and made woman, sent
For mans reliefe, cause of his languishment.
They were to good ends, and they are so still,
But accessory, and principall in ill.
For that first mariage was our funerall:
One woman at one blow, then kill'd vs all,
And singly, one by one, they kill vs now.
We doe delightfully our selues allow
To that consumption; and profusely blinde,
We kill ourselues, to propagate our kinde.
And yet we doe not that; we are not men:
There is not now that mankinde, which was then
When as the Sun, and man, did seeme to striue, [Shortnesse of life.]
(Ioynt tena[n]ts of the world) who should surui[u]e.
When Stag, and Rauen, and the long liu'd tree,
Compar'd with man, dy'de in minoritee.
When, if a slow-pac'd starre had stolne away
From the obseruers marking, he might stay
Two or three hundred yeeres to see't againe,
And then make vp his obseruation plaine;
When, as the age was long, the sise was great:
Mans grouth conf[e]ss'd, and recompenc'd the meat:
So spacious and large, that euery soule
Did a faire Kingdome, and large Realme controule:
And when the very stature thus erect,
Did that soule a good way towards Heauen direct.
Where is this mankind now? who liues to age,
Fit to be made Methusalem his page?
Alas, we scarse liue long enough to trie;
Whether a true made clocke run right, or lie.
Old Grandsires talke of yesterday with sorrow,
And for our children we reserue to morrow.
So short is life, that euery peasant striues,
In a torne house, or field, to haue three liues,
And as in lasting, so in length is man. [Smalenesse of stature.]
Contracted to an inch, who was a span,
For had a man at first, in Forrests stray'd,
Or shipwrack'd in the Sea, one would haue laid
A wager that an Elephant, or Whale
That met him, would not hastily assaile
A th[in]g so equall to him: now alasse.
The Fayries, and the Pigmies well may passe
As credible; mankind decayes so soone,
We're s[c]arse our Fathers shadowes cast at noone.
Onely death addes t'our length: nor are we growne
In stature to be men, till we are none.
But this were light, did our lesse volumes hold
All the old Text; or had we chang'd to gold
Their siluer or dispos'd into lesse glas,
Spirits of vertue, which then scattred was.
But 'tis not so: w'are not retir'd, but dampt?
And as our bodies, so our minds are crampt:
Tis shrinking, not close weaning that hath thus,
In minde and body both be-dwarfed vs.
We seeme ambitious, Gods whole worke t'vndoe;
Of nothing he made vs, and we striue too,
To bring our selues to nothing backe; and we
Doe what we can, to do't so soone as he.
With new diseases on our selues we warre,
And with new Physicke, a worse Engin farre.
Thus man, this worlds Vice-Emperor, in whom
All faculties, all graces are at home;
And if in other creatures they appeare,
They're but mans Ministers, and Legats ther[e],
To worke on their rebellions, and reduce
Them to Ciuility, and to mans vse.
This man, whom God did woo, and loth t'attend
Till man came vp, did downe to man descend,
This man so great, that all that is, is his,
Oh what a trifle, and poore thing he is?
If man were any thing; he's nothing now:
Helpe, or at least some time to wast, allow
T'his other wants, yet when he did depart
With her whom we lament, he lost his heart.
She, of whom th'Ancients seem'd to prophesie,
When they call'd vertues by the name of shee,
She in whom vertue was so much refin'd,
That for Allay vnto so pure a minde
She tooke the weaker Sex, she that could driue
The poysonous tincture, and the stayne of Eue,
Out of her thought, and deedes, and purifie
All, by a true religious Alchemy;
See, shee is dead; shee's dead: when thou knowest this,
Thou knowest how poore a trifling thing man is.
And learn'st thus much by our Anatomee,
The heart being perish'd, [no] part can be free.
And that except thou feed (not banquet) on
The supernaturall food, Religion.
Thy better growth growes whithered, and scant;
Be more than man, or thou'rt lesse then an Ant.
Then, as mankinde, so is the worlds whole frame
Quite out of ioynt, almost created lame:
For, before God had made vp all the rest,
Corruption entred, and deprau'd the best:
It seis'd the Angels, and then first of all
The world did in her Cradle take a fall,
And turn'd her brains, and tooke a generall maime
Wronging each ioynt of th'vniuersall frame. [Decay of Nature in other parts.]
The noblest part, man, felt it first; and than
Both beasts and plants, curst in the curse of man.
So did the world from the first houre decay,
That euening was beginning of the day,
And now the Springs and Sommers which we see,
Like sonnes of women after fifty bee.
And new Philosophy cals all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;
The Sunne is lost, and th'earth, and no mans wit
Can well direct him where to looke for it.
And freely men confesse that this world's spent,
When in the Planets, and the Firmament
They seeke so many new; they see that this
Is crumbled out againe to his Atomis.
'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone;
All iust supply, and all Relation:
Prince, Subiect, Father, Sonne, are things forgot,
[F]or euery man alone thinkes he hath got
To be a Phoenix, and that then can be
None of that kinde, of which he is, but he.
This is the worlds condition now, and now
She that should all parts to reunion bow,
She that had all Magnetique force alone,
To draw, and fasten sundred parts in one;
She whom wise nature had in[u]ented then
When she obseru'd that euery sort of men
Did in their voyage in this worlds Sea stray,
And needed a new compasse for their way;
Shee that was best, and first originall
Of all faire copies and the generall
Steward to Fate; shee whose rich eyes, and brest:
Guilt the West-Indies, and perfum'd the East;
Whose hauing breath'd in this world, did bestow
Spice on those Isles, and bad them still smell so,
And that rich Indie which doth gold interre,
Is but as single money, coyn'd from her:
She to whom this world must it selfe refer,
As Suburbs, or the Microcosme of her,
Shee, shee is dead; shee's dead: when thou knowest this,
Thou knowst how lame a cripple this world is.
And learnst thus much by our Anatomy,
That this worlds generall sicknesse doth not lie
In any humour, or one certaine part;
But as thou sawest it rotten at the heart,
Thou seest a Hectique feuer hath got hold
Of the whole substance, not to be contrould.
And that thou hast but one way, not t'admit
The worlds infection, to be none of it.
For the worlds subtill immaterial parts
Feele this consuming wound, and ages darts.
[F]or the worlds beauty is decayd, or gone, [Disformity of parts.]
Beauty, that's colour, and proportion.
We thinke the heauens enioy their Sphericall
Their round proportion embracing all.
But yet their various and perplexed course,
Obseru'd in diuerse ages doth enforce
Men to find out so many Eccentrique parts,
Such diuers downe-right lines, such ouerthwarts,
As disproportion that pure forme. It teares
The Firmament in eight and forty sheeres,
And in these constillations then arise
New starres, and old doe vanish from our eyes:
As though heau[']n suffered earth quakes, peace or war,
When new Towers rise, and old demolish't are.
They haue impayld within a Zodiake
The free-borne Sun, and keepe twelue signes awake
To watch his stepps; the Goat and Crabbe controule,
And fright him backe, who els to either Pole,
(Did not these Tropiques fetter him) might runne:
For his course is not round; nor can the Sunne
Perfit a Circle, or maintaine his way
One inche direct; but where he rose to day
He comes no more, but with a cousening line,
Steales by that point, and so is Serpentine:
And seeming weary with his reeling thus,
He meanes to sleepe, being now falne nearer vs.
So, of the Starres which boast that they doe runne.
In Circle still, none ends where he begunne.
All their proportion's lame, it sinckes, it swels.
For of Meridians, and Parallels,
Man hath weaued out a net, and this net throwne
Vpon the Heauens, and now they are his owne.
Loth to goe vp the hill, or labour thus
To goe to heauen, we make heauen come to vs.
We spur, we raigne the stars, and in their race
They're diuersly content t'obey our peace,
But keepes the earth her round proportion still?
Doth not a Tenerif, or higher Hill
Rise so high like a Rocke, that one might thinke
The floating Moone would shipwracke there, and sinke?
Seas are so deepe, that Whales being strooke to day,
Perchance too morrow, scarse at middle way
Of their wish'd iorneys ende, the bottom, die.
And men, to sound depths, so much line vntie,
As one might iustly thinke, that there would rise
At end thereof, one of th'Antipodies:
If vnder all, a Vault infernall be,
(Which sure is spacious, except that we
Invent another torment, that there must
Millions into a strait hot roome be thrust)
Then solidnesse, and roundnesse haue no place.
Are these but warts, and pock-holes in the face
Of th'earth? Thinke so: But yet confesse, in this
The worlds proportion disfigured is,
That those two legges whereon it doth rely,
Reward and punishment are bent awry.
And, Oh, it can no more be questioned,
That beauties best, proportion, is dead,
Since euen griefe it selfe, which now alone
Is left vs, is without proportion.
Shee by whose lines proportion should bee
Examin'd measure of all Symmetree,
Whom had the Ancient seene, who thought soules made
Of Harmony, he would at next haue said
That Harmony was shee, and thence infer.
That soules were but Resultances from her,
And did from her into our bodies goe,
As to our eyes, the formes from obiects flow:
Shee, who if those great Doctors truely said
That the Arke to mans proportion was made,
Had beene a type for that, as that might be
A type of her in this, that contrary
Both Elements and Passions liu'd at peace
In her, who cau'd all Ciuill war to cease.
Shee, after whom, what forme soe're we see,
Is discord, and rude incongruitee,
Shee, shee is dead, she's dead; when thou knowest this,
Thou knowst how vgly a monster this world is:
And learnest thus much by our Anatomee,
That here is nothing to enamour thee:
And that, not onely faults in inward parts,
Corruptions in our brains, or in our hearts.
Poysoning the fountaines, whence our actions spring,
Endanger us: but that if euery thing
Be not done fitly'nd in proportion,
To satisfie wise, and good lookers on,
(Since most men be such as most thinke they bee)
They're lothsome too, by this Deformitee.
For good, and well, must in our actions meete;
Wicked is not much worse then indiscreet.
But beauties other second Element,
Colour, and lustre now, is as neere spent.
And had the world his iust proportion,
Were it a ring still, yet the stone is gone.
As a compassionate Turcoyse which doth tell
By looking pale, the wearer is not well,
As gold fals sicke being stung with Mercury,
All the worlds parts of such complexion bee.
When nature was most busie, the first weeke,
Swadling the new borne earth God seemd to like,
That she should sport her selfe sometimes, and play,
To mingle, and vary colours euery day.
And then, as though she could not make inow
Himselfe his various Rainbow did allow,
Sight is the noblest sense of any one,
Yet sight hath onely colour to feede on,
And colour is decayd: summers robe growes
Duskie, and like an oft dyed garment showes.
Our blushing redde, which vs'd in cheekes to spred,
Is inward sunke and onely our soules are redde.
Perchance the world might haue recouered,
If shee whom we lament had not bene dead:
But she, in whom all white, and red, and blew
(Beauties ingredients) voluntary grew,
As in an vnuext Paradise; from whom
Did all things verdure, and their lustre come,
Whose composition was miraculous,
Being all colour, all Diaphanous,
(For Ayre, and Fire but thinke grosse bodies were,
And liueliest stones but drowsie, and pale to her,)
Shee, shee, is dead; she's dead: when thou knowest this,
Thou knowest how wan a Ghost this our world is:
And learnst thus much by our Anatomee,
That it should more affright, then pleasure thee.
And that, since all faire colour then did sinke,
'Tis now but wicked vanitie to thinke, [Weakenesse in the vvant of correspondence of heauen & earth.]
To colour vicious deeds with good pretence,
Or with bought colors to illude mens sense.
Nor in ought more this worlds decay appeares,
Then that her influence the heau'n forbeares,
Or that the Elements doe not feele this,
The father, or the mother barren is.
The clouds conceiue not raine, or doe not powre
In the due birth-time, down the balmy showre.
Th'Ayre doth not motherly sit on the earth,
To hatch her seasons, and giue all things birth.
Spring-times were common cradles, but are toombes,
And false conceptions fill the generall wombes.
Th'ayre showes such Meteors, as none can see,
Not onely what they meane, but what they bee.
Earth such new wormes, as would haue troubled much,
Th'Egyptian Mages to haue made more such.
What Artist now dares boast that he can bring
Heauen hither, or constellate any thing,
So as the influence of those starres may bee
Imprisoned in an Hearbe, or Charme, or Tree.
And doe by touch, all which those starres could doe?
The art is lost, and correspondence too.
For heauen giues little, and the earth takes lesse,
And man least knowes their trades and purposes.
If this commerce twixt heauen and earth were not
Embarr'd, and all this trafique quite forgot,
Shee, for whose losse we haue lamented thus,
Would worke more fully and pow'rfully on vs.
Since herbes and roots by dying, lose not all,
But they, yea Ashes too, are medicinall,
Death could not quench her vertue so, but that
It would be (if not follow'd) wondred at:
And all the world would be one dying Swan,
To sing her generall praise, and vanish than.
But as some Serpents poyson hurteth not,
Except it be from the liue Serpent shot,
So doth her vertue need her here, to fit
That unto vs; she working more then it.
But she, in whom, to such maturity,
Verue was grown, past gtrouth, that it must die,
She from whose influence all Impresion came,
But by receiuers impotencies, lame,
Who, though she could not transubstantiate
All states to gold, yet guilded euery state,
So that some Princes haue some temperance;
Some Counsellors some purpose to aduance
The common profite; and some people haue
Some stay, no more then Kings should giue, to craue;
Some women haue some taciturnity,
Some Nunneries, some graines of chastity.
She that did thus much, & much more could doe,
But that our age was Iron, and rusty too,
Shee, shee is dead; shee's dead: when thou knowest this,
Thou knowest how drie a Cinder this world is.
And learnst thus much by our Anatomy,
That 'tis in vaine to dew, or mollifie
It with thy Teares, or Sweat, or Blood: no thing
Is worth our trauaile, griefe, or perishing,
But those rich ioyes, which did possesse her heart,
Of which shee's now partaker, and a part. [Conclusion.]
But as in cutting vp a man that's dead,
The body will not last out to haue read
On euery part, and therefore men direct
Their speech to parts, that are of most effect;
So the worlds carcasse would not last, if I
Were punctuall in this Anatomy.
Nor smels it well to hearers, if one tell
Them their disease, who faine would thinke they're well.
Here therefore be the end: And, blessed maid,
Of whom is meant what euer hath beene said,
Or shall be spoken well by any tongue,
Whose name refines course lines, and makes prose song,
Accept this tribute, and his first yeeres rent,
Who till his darke short tapers end be spent,
As oft as thy feast sees this widowed earth,
Will yeerely celebrate thy second birth,
That is, thy death. For though the soule of man
Be got when man is made, 'tis borne but than
When man doth die, Our bodi's as the wombe,
And as a Mid-wife death directs it home.
And you her creatures, whom she workes vpon
And haue your last, and best concoction
From her example, and her vertue, if you
In reuerence to her, doe thinke it due,
That no one should her prayses thus reherse,
As matter fit for Chronicle, not verse,
Vouchsafe to call to minde, that God did make
A last, and lastingst peece, a song. He spake
To Moses, to deliuer vnto all,
That song: because he knew they would let fall,
The Law, the Prophets, and the History,
But keepe the song still in their memory.
Such an opinion (in due measure) made
Me this great Office boldly to inuade.
Nor could incomprehensiblenesse deterre
Me, from thus trying to emprison her.
Which when I saw that a strict graue could doe,
I saw not why verse might not doe so too.
Verse hath a middle nature: Heauen keepes soules,
The Graue keepes bodies, Verse the fame enroules.
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