John Donne Poems >>
Eclogue

I6I3, DECEMBER 26.

ALLOPHANES FINDING IDIOS IN THE COUNTRY IN
    CHRISTMAS TIME, REPREHENDS HIS ABSENCE
    FROM COURT, AT THE MARRIAGE OF THE EARL
    OF SOMERSET ; IDIOS GIVES AN ACCOUNT OF
    HIS PURPOSE THEREIN, AND OF HIS ACTIONS
    THERE.

 ALLOPHANES.
UNSEASONABLE man, statue of ice,
What could to countries solitude entice
Thee, in this year's cold and decrepit time ?
Nature's instinct draws to the warmer clime
Even smaller birds, who by that courage dare
In numerous fleets sail through their sea, the air.
What delicacy can in fields appear,
Whilst Flora herself doth a frieze jerkin wear ?
Whilst winds do all the trees and hedges strip
Of leaves, to furnish rods enough to whip
Thy madness from thee, and all springs by frost
Have taken cold, and their sweet murmurs lost?
If thou thy faults or fortunes wouldst lament
With just solemnity, do it in Lent.
At court the spring already advanced is,
The sun stays longer up ; and yet not his
The glory is ; far other, other fires.
First, zeal to prince and state, then love's desires
Burn in one breast, and like heaven's two great lights,
The first doth govern days, the other, nights.
And then that early light which did appear
Before the sun and moon created were,
The princes favour is diffused o'er all,
From which all fortunes, names, and natures fall.
Then from those wombs of stars, the bride's bright eyes,
At every glance, a constellation flies,
And sows the court with stars, and doth prevent
In light and power, the all-eyed firmament.
First her eyes kindle other ladies' eyes,
Then from their beams their jewels' lustres 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 dark places, fire without light doth dwell ;
Or but like stoves ; for lust and envy get
Continual, but artificial heat.
Here zeal and love grown one all clouds digest,
And make our court an everlasting east.
And canst thou be from thence ?

  IDIOS.               No, I am there ;
As heaven-to men disposed-is everywhere,
So are those courts, whose princes animate
Not only all their house but all their state.
Let no man think, because he's full, he hath all.
Kings-as their pattern, God-are liberal
Not only in fullness, but capacity,
Enlarging narrow men to feel and see,
And comprehend the blessings they bestow.
So, reclused hermits oftentimes do know
More of heaven's glory than a worldling can.
As man is of the world, the heart of man
Is an epitome of God's great book
Of creatures, and man need no farther look ;
So is the country of courts, where sweet peace doth,
As their one common soul, give life to both ;
And am I then from court ?

 ALLOPHANES.       Dreamer, thou art :
Think'st thou, fantastic, that thou hast a part
In the Indian fleet, because thou hast
A little spice or amber in thy taste ?
Because thou art not frozen, art thou warm ?
Seest thou all good, because thou seest no harm ?
The earth doth in her inner bowels hold
Stuff well-disposed, and which would fain be gold ;
But never shall, except it chance to lie
So upward, that heaven gild it with his eye.
As, for divine things, faith comes from above,
So, for best civil use, all tinctures move
From higher powers ; from God religion springs,
Wisdom and honour from the use of kings :
Then unbeguile thyself, and know with me,
That angels, though on earth employ'd they be,
Are still in heaven, so is he still at home
That doth abroad to honest actions come.
Chide thyself then, O fool, which yesterday
Mightst have read more than all thy books bewray ;
Hast thou a history, which doth present
A court, where all affections do assent
Unto the king's, and that that king's 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 king's favours are so placed, that all
Find that the king therein is liberal
To them, in him, because his favours bend
To virtue, 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 ;
He is admitted now into that breast
Where the king's counsels and his secrets rest.
What hast thou lost, O ignorant man ?

  IDIOS.                 I knew
All this, and only therefore I withdrew.
To know and feel all this, and not to have
Words to express it, makes a man a grave
Of his own thoughts ; I would not therefore stay
At a great feast, having no grace to say.
And yet I 'scaped not here ; for being come
Full of the common joy, I utter'd some.
Read then this nuptial song, which was not made
Either the court or men's 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.
 

I.

THE TIME OF THE MARRIAGE.

Thou art reprieved, old year, thou shalt not die ;
   Though thou upon thy death-bed lie,
   And should'st within five days expire,
Yet thou art rescued by a mightier fire,
   Than thy old soul, the sun,
When he doth in his largest circle run.
The passage of the west or east would thaw,
And open wide their easy liquid jaw
To all our ships, could a Promethean art
Either unto the northern pole impart
The fire of these inflaming eyes, or of this loving 
   heart.
 

II.

EQUALITY OF PERSONS.

But undiscerning Muse, which heart, which eyes,
   In this new couple, dost thou prize,
   When his eye as inflaming is
As hers, and her heart loves as well as his ?
   Be tried by beauty, and then
The bridegroom is a maid, and not a man ;
If by that manly courage they be tried,
Which scorns unjust opinion ; then the bride
Becomes a man. Should chance or envy's art
Divide these two, whom nature scarce did part,
Since both have the inflaming eye, and both the
   loving heart?
 

III.

RAISING OF THE BRIDEGROOM.

Though it be some divorce to think of you
   Single, so much one are you two,
   Let me here contemplate thee,
First, cheerful bridegroom, and first let me see,
   How thou prevent'st the sun,
And his red foaming horses dost outrun ;
How, having laid down in thy Sovereign's breast
All businesses, from thence to reinvest
Them when these triumphs cease, thou forward art
To show to her, who doth the like impart,
The fire of thy inflaming eyes, and of thy loving heart.
 

IV.

RAISING OF THE BRIDE.

But now to thee, fair bride, it is some wrong,
   To think thou wert in bed so long.
   Since soon thou liest down first, 'tis fit
Thou in first rising shouldst allow for it.
   Powder thy radiant hair,
Which if without such ashes thou wouldst wear,
Thou which, to all which come to look upon,
Wert meant for Phoebus, wouldst be Pha