Meditation 1 – John Donne

John_Donne

                              John Donne
 
                                 _______
 

to my utter embarrassment, my
profound dismay, I attributed in
my last title John Donne‘s No
inadvertently, a somewhat later 
though nearly contemporary 
poet of Donne‘s, equally as 
noteworthy, thereby accounting, 
maybe, for my confusion, my 
lapse, my infelicity, however still 
unforgivable
 
once I mistook Schubert for 
Beethoven, and, however similar
these might become in their 
euphoric musical explorations
despite their obvious rhythmic 
differences, never a sufficient 
excuse, though, for that flagrant 
flaw – still blush at the memory 
of that faux pas, among French 
intellectuals no less, the worst, 
the least forgiving   
 
John Donne, I’ve found since, is
not only noteworthy for his ribald 
poems, the ones we studied mostly 
at school, but his “Devotions upon
Emergent Occasions, from which 
No man is an island” is but one
inspirational bit, is replete with 
other gems 
 
he’d composed them after having
survived a brush with death, they 
are wise, and worth individually
considering for their spiritual 
illumination, their metaphysical 
light, their sage and sober 
guidance
 
here’s Meditation 1, or
 
                                   The first grudging of, the sicknesse.
 
“Variable, and therfore miserable condition of Man; this minute I was well, and am ill, this minute. I am surpriz’d with a sodaine change, and alteration to worse, and can impute it to no cause, nor call it by any name. We study Health, and we deliberate upon our meats, and drink, and ayre, and exercises, and we hew, and wee polish every stone, that goes to that building; and so our Health is a long and regular work; But in a minute a Canon batters all, overthrowes all, demolishes all; a Sicknes unprevented for all our diligence, unsuspected for all our curiositie; nay, undeserved, if we consider only disorder, summons us, seizes us, possesses us, destroyes us in an instant. O miserable condition of Man, which was not imprinted by God, who as hee is immortall himselfe, had put a coale, a beame of Immortalitie into us, which we might have blowen into a flame, but blew it out, by our first sinne; wee beggard our selves by hearkning after false riches, and infatuated our selves by hearkning after false knowledge. So that now, we doe not onely die, but die upon the Rack, die by the torment of sicknesse; nor that onely, but are preafflicted, super-afflicted with these jelousies and suspitions, and apprehensions of Sicknes, before we can cal it a sicknes; we are not sure we are ill; one hand askes the other by the pulse, and our eye asks our urine, how we do. O multiplied misery! we die, and cannot enjoy death, because wee die in this torment of sicknes; we art tormented with sicknes, and cannot stay till the torment come, but preapprehensions and presages, prophecy those torments, which induce that death before either come; and our dissolution is conceived in these first changes, quickned in the sicknes it selfe, and borne in death, which beares date from these first changes. Is this the honour which Man hath by being a litle world, That he hath these earthquakes in him selfe, sodaine shakings; these lightnings, sodaine flashes; these thunders, sodaine noises; these Eclypses, sodain offuscations, and darknings of his senses; these Blazing stars, sodaine fiery exhalations; these Rivers of blood, sodaine red waters? Is he a world to himselfe onely therefore, that he hath inough in himself, not only to destroy, and execute himselfe, but to presage that execution upon himselfe; to assist the sicknes, to antidate the sicknes, to make the sicknes the more irremediable, by sad apprehensions, and as if he would make a fire the more vehement, by sprinkling water upon the coales, so to wrap a hote fever in cold Melancholy, least the fever alone should not destroy fast enough, without this contribution nor perfit the work (which is destruction) except we joynd an artificiall sicknes, of our owne melancholy, to our natural, our unnaturall fever. O perplex’d discomposition, O ridling distemper, O miserable condition of Man!”
  
                                                                                      John Donne
 
 
in other words, carpe diem, seize 
the day, don’t worry, be happy,
something too many of us learn 
too late 
 
Richard
 
psst: thanks, Guy, for the heads up,
         Guy is a librarian friend of mine 
         with the goods on the Tudors

 

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