Saturday, 25 September 2010

Too Pre-occupied With The Vanity of The World

As if I were not usually pre-occupied enough with the vanity of the world, the last few days have seen me over-stretched: termites eating the basement; too many cats (as if there could ever be too much pussy); watering the dusty garden and things like that. It all set me thinking or remembering of when I had time to sit in a tree and memorize the poems of W B Yeats and John Donne. No Yeats today. And don't buy any of my books today either. This is not a Jeffrey Archer marketing ploy. I don't drink pina coladas on the beach either and the Sunday Times does not equate me with Alexander Dumas. Jeff says that's what they say about him. I'm just surprised that the old windbag can even spell 'Alexander Dumas'. Still, Tally-ho! d'Artagnan. I expect that Fragrant Mary helps him with the old spelling.

Don't even log into one of those blogs that you always hope will answer the question: "Does my bum look big in this?" or (as you stand there, frozen in an unnatural pose, in a joke of a suit), answer the question "How do I look?" other than with the answer: "Very pleased".


Instead, today, revisit John Donne: Go and catch a falling star and all that jazz or even just tune in to his Hymn to God The Father. You'll feel much better for it and don't miss the pun on his name:

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I began
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin; through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou has done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

Offered the Deanery of St Paul's Cathedral (old St Paul's), he agonized over whether he was fit for the post. Imagine a modern British C of E cleric doing that (bunch of wimps). They'd be tripping over their beards for the post and stabbing each other in the back (and even the front), as the glass-shattering voices of their wives urged them on...

One of the few things to survive the Fire of London is John Donne's monument preserved in the Wren Cathedral. Worth seeing.

1 comment:

    by John Donne

    BLASTED with sighs, and surrounded with tears,
    Hither I come to seek the spring,
    And at mine eyes, and at mine ears,
    Receive such balms as else cure every thing.
    But O ! self-traitor, I do bring
    The spider Love, which transubstantiates all,
    And can convert manna to gall ;
    And that this place may thoroughly be thought
    True paradise, I have the serpent brought.

    'Twere wholesomer for me that winter did
    Benight the glory of this place,
    And that a grave frost did forbid
    These trees to laugh and mock me to my face ;
    But that I may not this disgrace
    Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
    Some senseless piece of this place be ;
    Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
    Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.

    Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
    And take my tears, which are love's wine,
    And try your mistress' tears at home,
    For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
    Alas ! hearts do not in eyes shine,
    Nor can you more judge women's thoughts by tears,
    Than by her shadow what she wears.
    O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
    Who's therefore true, because her truth kills me.