John Donne Poems >>
The Progres Of The Soule

Wherein,
BY OCCASION OF
The Religious death of Mistris
E L I Z A B E T H D R V R Y,
the incommodities of the Soule
in this life, and her exaltation in
the next, are Contemplated.
The Second Anniversarie.


NOthing could make me sooner to confesse. [The entrance.]
That this world had an euerlastingnesse,
Then to consider, that a yeare is runne,
Since both this lower worlds, and the Sunnes, Sunne,
The Lustre, and the vigor of this All,
Did set; t'were Blasphemy, to say, did fall.
But as a ship which hath strooke saile, doth runne,
By force of that force which before, it wonne:
Or as sometimes in a beheaded man,
Though at those two Red seas, which freely ran,
One from the Trunke, another from the Head,
His soule he saild, to her eternall bed,
His eies will twinckle, and his tongue will roll,
As though he beckned, and cal'd backe his Soul,
He graspes his hands, and he puls vp his feet,
And seemes to reach, and to step forth to meet
His soule; when all these motions which we saw,
Are but as Ice, which crackles at a thaw:
Or as a lute, which in moist weather, rings
Her knell alone, by cracking of her strings.
So strugles this dead world, now shee is gone;
For there is motion in corruption.
As some Daies are, at the Creation nam'd,
Before the Sunne, the which fram'd Daies, was fram'd,
So after this Sunnes set some show appeares,
And orderly vicissitude of yeares.
Yet a new Deluge, and of Lethe flood,
Hath drown'vs all, All haue forgot all good,
Forgetting her, the m[ai]ne Reserue of all,
Yet in this Deluge, grosse and generall,
Thou seest me striue for life; my life shall be,
To bee hereafter prais'd, for praysing thee,
Immortall Maid, who though thou wouldst refuse
The name of Mother, be vnto my Muse,
A Father since her chaste ambition is,
Yearely to bring forth such a child as this.
These Hymnes may worke on future wits, and so
May great Grand-children of thy praises grow.
And so, though not Reuiue, enbalme, and spice
The world which else would putrifie with vice.
For thus, Man may extend thy progeny,
Vntill man doe but vanish, and not die.
These Hymns they issue, may encrease so long,
As till Gods great Venite change the song.
Thirst for that time, O my initiate soule, [A iust dis-estimation of

this vvorld.]

And serue thy thirst, with Gods safe-sealing Bowle.
Bee thirsty still, and drinke still till thou goe;
To th'onely Health, to be Hydroptique so.
Forget this rotten world; And vnto thee,
Let thine owne times as an old story be[.]
Be not concern'd: study not why, nor whan;
Doe not so much, as not beleeue a man.
For though to erre, be worst, to try truths forth,
Is far more busines, then this world is worth.
The world is but a carcasse; thou art fed
By it, but as a worme, that carcas bred;
And why shouldst thou, poore worme, consider more,
When this world will grow better then before,
Then those thy fellow-wormes doe thinke vpone
That carcasses last resurrectione.
Forget this world, and scarse thinke of it so,
As of old cloaths, cast off a yeere agoe.
To be thus stupid as Alacrity;
Men thus lethargique haue best Memory.
Looke vpward; that's towards her, whose happy state
We now lament not, but congratulate.
Shee, to whom all this world twas but a stage,
Where all sat harkning how her youthfull age
Should be emploid, because in all, shee did,
Some Figure of the Golden times, was hid.
Who could not lacke, what ere this world could giue,
Because shee was the forme, that made it liue;
Nor could complaine, that this world was vnfit,
To be staid in, then when shee was in it;
Shee that first tried indifferent desires
By vertue, and vertue by religious fires,
Shee to whose person Paradise adhear'd,
As Courts to Princes, she whose eies enspheard
Star-light inough, t'haue made the South controll,
(Had shee beene there) the Starfull Northern Pole,
Shee, shee is gone; shee is gone; when thou knowest this,
What fragmentary rubbidge this world is.
Thou knowest, and that it is not worth a thought;
He honours it too much that thinkes it nought.
Thinke then, My soule, that death is but a Groome, [Contemplation of

our state in our death-bed.]

Which brings a Taper to the outward roome,
Whence thou spiest first a glimmering light,
And after brings it nearer to thy sight:
For such approches doth heauen make it in death.
Thinke thy selfe labouring now with broken breath,
And thinke those broken & soft Notes to bee
Diuision, and thy happiest Harmonee.
Thinke thee laid on thy death-bed, loose and slacke;
And thinke that but vnbinding of a packe,
To take one precious thing, thy soule, from thence.
Thinke thy selfe parch'd with feuers violence,
Anger thine Ague more, by calling it
Thy Physicke; chide the slacknes of the fit.
Thinke that thou hear'st thy knell, and thinke no more,
But that, as Bels cal'd thee to Church before,
So this, to the Triumphant Church, cals thee.
Thinke Satans Sergeants round about thee bee,
And thinke that but for Legcies they thrust;
Giue one thy Pride, to 'another giue thy Lust:
Giue them those sinnes which they gaue before,
And trust th'immaculate blood to wash thy score.
Thinke thy friends weeping round, and thinke that thay
Weepe but because they goe not yet thy way.
Thinke they confesse much in the world, amisse
Who dare not trust a dead mans eye with that,
Which they from God, and Angels couer not.
Thinke that they shourd thee vp, and thinke from thence
They reinuest thee in white innocence.
Thinke that thy body rots, and (if so lowe,
Thy soule exhalted so, thy thoughts can goe.)
Thinke thee a Prince, who of themselues create
Wormes which insensibly deuoure their state.
Thinke that they bury thee, and thinke that right
Laies thee to sleepe but a Saint Lucies night.
Thinke these things cheerfully: and if thou bee
Drowsie or slacke, remember then that shee,
She whose Complexion was so euen made,
That which of her Ingredients should inuade
The other three, no Feare, no Art could guesse:
So farre were all remou'd from more or lesse.
But as in Mithridate, or iust perfumes,
Where all good things being met, no one presumes
To gouerne, or to triumph on the rest,
Onely because all were, no part was best.
And as, though all doe know, that quantities
Are made of lines, and lines from Points arise,
None can these lines or quantities vnioynt,
And say this is a line, or this a point,
So though the Elements and Humors were
In her, one could not say, this gouerns there.
Whose euen constitution might haue worne
Any disease to venter on the Sunne,
Rather then her: and make a spirit feare
That he to disuniting subiect were.
To whose proportions if we would compare
Cubes, th'are vnstable, Circles, Angulare,
Shee who was such a Chaine, as Fate emploies
To bring mankind, all Fortunes it enioyes,
So fast, so euen wrought, as one would thinke,
No accident, could threaten any linke,
Shee, shee embrac'd a sicknesse, gaue it meat,
The purest Blood, and Breath, that ere it eat.
And hath taught vs that though a good man hath
Title to Heauen, and plead it by his Faith,
And though he may pretend a conquest, since
Heauen was content to suffer violence,
Yea though he plead a long possesion too,
(For they're in heauen on earth, who heauens workes do,)
Though he had right, & power and place before,
Yet Death must vsher, and vnlocke the doore.
Thinke further on thy selfe, my soule, and thinke;
How thou at first was made but in a sinke;
Thinke that it argued some infermitee,
That those two soules, which then thou foundst in mee,
Thou fedst upon, and drewst into thee, both
My second soule of sence, and first of growth.
Thinke but how poore thou wast, how obnoxious;
Whom a small lumpe of flesh could poyson thus.
This curded milke, this poore vnlittered whelpe
My body, could, beyound escape, or helpe,
Infect thee with originall sinne, and thou
Couldst neither then refuse, nor leaue it now.
Thinke that no stubborne sullen Anchorit,
Which fixt to'a Pillar, or a Graue doth sit
Bedded and Bath'd in all his Ordures, dwels
So fowly as our soules, in their first-built Cels.
Thinke in how poore a prison thou didst lie
After, enabled but to sucke, and crie.
Thinke, when t'was growne to most, t'was a poore Inne,
A Prouince Pack'd vp in two yards of skinne.
And that vsurped, or threatned with the rage
Of sicknesses, or their true mother, Age.
But thinke that Death hath now enfranchis'd thee, [Her liberty by

death.]

Thou hast thy'expansion now and libertee;
Thinke that a rusty Peece, discharg'd, is flowen
In peeces, and the bullet is his owne,
And freely flies: This to thy soule allow,
Thinke thy sheell broke, thinke thy Soule hatch'd but now.
And think this slow-pac'd soule, which late did cleaue,
To a'body, and went but by the bodies leaue,
Twenty, perchance, or thirty mile a day,
Dispatches in a minute all the way,
Twixt Heauen, and Earth: shee staies not in the Ayre,
To looke what Meteors there themselues prepare;
Shee carries no desire to know, nor sense,
Whether th'Ayrs middle Region be intense,
For th'Element of fire, shee doth not know,
Whether shee past by such a place or no;
Shee baits not at the Moone, nor cares to trie,
Whether in that new world, men liue, and die.
Venus recards her not, to'enquire, now shee
Can, (being one Star) Hesper, and Vesper bee,
Hee that charm'd Argus eyes, sweet Mercury,
Workes not on her, who now is growen al Ey;
Who, if shee meete the body of the Sunne,
Goes through, not staying till his course be runne;
Who finds in Mars his Campe, no corps of Guard;
Nor is by Ioue, nor by his father bard;
But ere she can consider how she went,
At once is at, and through the Firmament.
And as these starres were but so many beades
Strunge on one string, speed vndistinguish'd leades
Her through those spheares, as through the beades, a string,
Whose quicke succession makes it still one thing:
As doth the Pith, which, least our Bodies slacke,
Strings fast the little bones of necke, and backe;
So by the soule doth death string Heauen and Earth.
For when our soule enioyes this her third birth,
(Creation gaue her one, a second, grace,)
Heauen is as neare, and present to her face,
As colours are, and obiects, in a roome
Where darkenesse was before, when Tapers come.
This must, my soule, thy long-short Progresse bee;
To'aduance these thoughts, remember then, that shee
Shee, whose faire body no such prison was,
But that a soule might well be pleas'd to passe
An age in her; she whose rich beauty lent
Mintage to others beauties, for they went
But for so much, as they were like to her;
Shee, in whose body (if we dare prefer
This low world, to so high a marke, as shee,)
The Westerne treasure, Esterne spiceree,
Europe, and Afrique, and the vnknowen rest
Were easily found, or what in them was best;
And when w'haue made this large Discoueree.
Of all in her some one part then will bee
Twenty such patts, whose plenty and riches is
Inough to make twenty such worlds as this,
Shee, whom they had knowne who did first betroth
The Tutelar Angel, and assigned one, both
To Nations, Cities, and to Companies,
To Fu[n]ctions, Offices, and Dignities,
And to each seuerall man, to him, and him,
They would haue giuen her one for euery limme;
Shee, of whose soule, if we may say, t'was Gold,
Her body was th'Electrum, and did hold
Many degrees of that; (we vnderstood
Her by the sight, her pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheekes, and so distinctly wrought,
That one might almost say, her body thought,
Shee, shee, thus richly, & largely hous'd, is gone:
& chides vs slow-pac'd snailes who crawl vpon
Our prisons prison, earth, nor thinke vs well
Longer, then whil'st we beare our brittle shell.
But t'were but little to haue chang'd our roome, [Her ignorance in

this life and knovvledge in the next.]

If, as we were in this our liuing Toombe
Oppress'd with ignorance, we still were so,
Poore soule in this thy flesh what do'st thou know.
Thou know[']st thy selfe so little, as thou know'st not,
How thou didst die, nor how thou wast begot.
Thou neither know'st, how thou at first came in,
Nor how thou took'st the poyson of mans sin.
Nor dost thou, (though thou knowst, that thou art so)
By what way thou art made immortall, know.
Thou art to narrow, wretch, to comprehend
Euen thy selfe: yea though thou wouldst but bend
To know thy body. Haue not all soules thought
For many ages, that our body'is wrought
Of Ayre, and Fire, and other Elements?
And now they thinke of new ingredients.
And one soule thinkes one, and another way
Another thinkes, and ty's an euen lay.
Know'st thou but how the stone doth enter in
The bladders Caue, and neuer brake the skin?
Knowst thou how blood, which to the heart doth flow,
Doth from one ventricle to th'other goe?
And for the putrid stuffe, which thou dost spit,
Knowst how thy lungs haue attracted it?
There are no passages so that there is
(For ought thou knowst) piercing of substances.
And of those many opinions which men raise
Of Nayles and Haires, dost thou know which to praise?
What hope haue we to know our selves, when we
Know not the least things, which for our vse be?
We see in Authors, too stiffe to recant.
A hundred controuersies of an Ant.
And yet one watches, starues, freeses, and sweats,
To know but Catechismes and Alphabets
Of vnconcerning things, matters of fact;
How others on our stage their parts did Act;
What C