Sunday, May 26, 2013


Manure Thyself

John Donne (1572-1631), "To Mr. Rowland Woodward," lines 19-36:
Seeke wee then our selves in our selves; for as
Men force the Sunne with much more force to passe,        20
By gathering his beames with a christall glasse;

So wee, If wee into our selves will turne,
Blowing our sparkes of vertue, may outburne
The straw, which doth about our hearts sojourne.

You know, Physitians, when they would infuse        25
Into an oyle, the Soules of Simples, use
Places, where they may lie still warme, to chuse.

So workes retirednesse in us; To rome
Giddily, and be every where, but at home,
Such freedome doth a banishment become.        30

Wee are but farmers of our selves, yet may,
If we can stocke our selves and thrive, uplay
Much, much deare treasure for the great rent day.

Manure thy selfe then, to thy selfe be approv'd,
And with vaine outward things be no more mov'd,        35
But to know, that I love thee and would be lov'd.
21 christall glasse: magnifying glass
24 Physitians: alchemists
26 Simples: "A single uncompounded or unmixed thing; a substance free from foreign elements, esp. one serving as an ingredient in a composition or mixture" (OED)
32: uplay: lay up
33 the great rent day: Judgment Day

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