To Mr. Tilman After He Had Taken Orders

John Donne 1572 (London) – 1631 (London)

THOU, whose diviner soul hath caused thee now
To put thy hand unto the holy plough,
Making lay-scornings of the ministry
Not an impediment, but victory ;
What bring'st thou home with thee ? how is thy mind
Affected since the vintage ? Dost thou find
New thoughts and stirrings in thee ? and, as steel
Touch'd with a loadstone, dost new motions feel ?
Or, as a ship after much pain and care
For iron and cloth brings home rich Indian ware,
Hast thou thus traffick'd, but with far more gain
Of noble goods, and with less time and pain ?
Thou art the same materials, as before,
Only the stamp is changèd, but no more.
And as new crowned kings alter the face,
But not the money's substance, so hath grace
Changed only God's old image by creation,
To Christ's new stamp, at this thy coronation ;
Or, as we paint angels with wings, because
They bear God's message and proclaim His laws,
Since thou must do the like and so must move,
Art thou new feather'd with celestial love ?
Dear, tell me where thy purchase lies, and show
What thy advantage is above, below.
But if thy gainings do surmount expression,
Why doth the foolish world scorn that profession,
Whose joys pass speech ? Why do they think unfit
That gentry should join families with it ?
As if their day were only to be spent
In dressing, mistressing and compliment.
Alas ! poor joys, but poorer men, whose trust
Seems richly placèd in sublimèd dust,
—For such are clothes and beauty, which though gay,
Are, at the best, but of sublimèd clay—
Let then the world thy calling disrespect,
But go thou on, and pity their neglect.
What function is so noble, as to be
Ambassador to God, and destiny ?
To open life ? to give kingdoms to more
Than kings give dignities? to keep heaven's door ?
Mary's prerogative was to bear Christ, so
'Tis preachers' to convey Him, for they do,
As angels out of clouds, from pulpits speak ;
And bless the poor beneath, the lame, the weak.
If then th' astronomers, whereas they spy
A new-found star, their optics magnify,
How brave are those, who with their engine can
Bring man to heaven, and heaven again to man ?
These are thy titles and pre-eminences,
In whom must meet God's graces, men's offences ;
And so the heavens which beget all things here,
And the earth, our mother, which these things doth bear ;
Both these in thee, are in thy calling knit
And make thee now a blest hermaphrodite.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 27, 2023

2:10 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,391
Words 424
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 54

John Donne

John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. more…

All John Donne poems | John Donne Books

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