May 26, 2014

Poem: Hymn to God My God, in My Sickness

I Joy, That In These Straits, I See My West

Hymn to God My God, in My Sickness is by the English poet, lawyer, and cleric in the Church of England, John Donne (1572-1631). Scholars believe it was certainly written at a time when he felt that death was imminent, but are divided as to whether it was composed in 1630/31 or during some earlier period of illness. It is included in the Poems for All Seasons Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Reading (with scriptural references)

HYMN TO GOD MY GOD, IN MY SICKNESS by John Donne (Public Domain)

Since I am coming to that holy room,
     Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
     I tune the instrument here at the door,
     And what I must do then, think here before. 

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
     Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
     That this is my south-west discovery,
     Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
     For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
     In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
     So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
     The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
     All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
     Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
     Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
     As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
     May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp'd, receive me, Lord;
     By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
     Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
"Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down."

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