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gradually passed. As he grew older he used more conventional metres, and his verse became smoother, until in his middle period very few discords appear, if he be read carefully. Coleridge was the first to note this fact. He points out that Donne has two methods of handling rhythm. In songs and purely lyrical pieces he arranges the words so that the stresses fall correctly whether the sense be much regarded or not; but in poems where he is thinking, and expects the reader to think, the sense emphasis has to be made for the verse to run properly. When allowance is made for the shockingly, corrupt state of the manuscripts this disposes of the contention that Donne had no ear. In “The Satyres,” of course, his verse is rugged of set purpose. By the time we reach his last period, that of the “Divine Poems,” it is only seldom that Donne exacts of his reader the tribute of paying attention to his meaning. There is but one example (line 9) in the sonnet from “La Corona " quoted below. The rest runs smoothly; in fact, there is something seductive about the movement of this series, in spite of the rimeclosed couplet at the end, which always, even in Shakespeare, feels like a sigh of relief for a finished task. Perhaps the impression of melody is increased by the device of connecting each sonnet with the previous one by repeating the last line with a change of accent.


Deigne at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,
Weav'd in my low devout melancholie,
Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,
All changing unchang'd Antient of dayes;
But doe not, with a vile crowne of fraile bayes,
Reward my muses white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crowne gain'd, that give mee,
A crowne of Glory, which doth flower alwayes;
The ends crowne our workes, but thou crown'st

our ends,
For, at our end begins our endlesse rest;
The first last end, now zealously possest,
With a strong sober thirst, my soule attends.
'Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high,
Salvation to all that will is nigh.

It may seem at first sight curious that Donne turned to the sonnet for his religious poetry. Yet it will be seen from his work that the instinctive artist in him chose measures suitable to the various types of poetry which he attempted -a harsh couplet for satire, a smooth one for complimentary verse, a sonorous stanza for the “Metempsychosis." By the time he came to write the “ Divine Poems ” he was long past the stage of avoiding a measure merely because it was popular. His own thought was mature, and his ideas had dissociated and become clear cut. It is unity of idea above everything that the sonnet form demands, and Donne doubtless felt its appropriateness to divinity, which


abounds in conceptions capable, for the purposes of poetry, of being isolated. The “ La Corona" series conveys a satisfying completeness, dealing as it does with points in Christ's career, the “Annunciation," "Nativity," "Temple, " “Crucifying," "Resurrection," "Ascension." This effect is increased by the interlinking already mentioned. The line which begins and ends the series is very attractive :

Deigne at my hands this crown of prayer and praise. Very appropriate too is the epithet of sincerity' in

But doe not, with a vile crowne of fraile bayes,
Reward my muses white sincerity.

The poetical standard of the whole is not high, but the last sonnet ends in an address much finer than the rest. O strong Ramme, which hast batter'd heaven for

mee, Mild Lambe, which with thy blood, hast mark'd

the path ; Bright Torch, which shin'st, that I the way may

see, Oh, with thy owne blood quench thy owne just

wrath, And if thy holy Spirit, my Muse did raise, Deigne at my hands this crowne of prayer and praise.

The “ Holy Sonnets,” which have been much more freely quoted here, though they lack the surface completeness of “La Corona," and

seem perhaps a little less carefully written, contain several things which far surpass any part of the latter series. The best of all is Sonnet VII, already quoted. The development of the idea is perfectly modulated, the movement of the octet is so dignified as to be almost Miltonic, and the normal effect of the last couplet is avoided by the happy device of beginning the period in the middle of the twelfth line. In the next sonnet he says that his

fathers soule doth see, And adds this even to full felicitie,

That valiantly I hels wide mouth o’rstride. Images like this last assure Donne of his place, in spite of much which is mere ingenuity.

Donne continued with his preaching before the King, Queen, and the Benchers until 1619, when he was so worn down by work and continual inward struggle that he was thought to be in a decline.

The King therefore appointed him chaplain to Lord Hay, who was going into Germany as ambassador. After his appointment there was a period of delay before starting, during which Donne wrote “ A Hymne to Christ.”


In what torne ship soever I embarke,
That ship shall be my embleme of thy Arke;
What sea soever swallow mee, that flood
Shall be to mee an embleme of thy blood;


Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face; yet through that maske I know those

Which, though they turne away sometimes,

They never will despise.

I sacrifice this Iland unto thee,
And all whom I lov'd there, and who lov'd

mee ;
When I have put our seas twixt them and mee,
Put thou thy sea betwixt my sinnes and thee.
As the trees sap doth seeke the root below
In winter, in my

winter now I goe,
Where none but thee, th' Eternall root

Of true Love I may know.

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Nor thou nor thy religion dost controule,
The amorousnesse of an harmonious Soule,
But thou would'st have that love thy selfe: As

Art jealous, Lord, so I am jealous now,
Thou lov'st not, till from loying more, thou free fane'a
My soule: Who ever gives, takes libertie :
O, if thou car'st not whom I love

Alas, thou lov'st not mee.

Seale then this bill of my Divorce to All,
On whom those fainter beames of love did fall;
Marry those loves, which in youth scattered bee
On Fame, Wit, Hopes (false mistresses) to thee.
Churches are best for Prayer, that have least

To see God only, I goe out of sight:
And to scape stormy dayes, I chuse

An Everlasting night.

into darkness)

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