Home  »  Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse  »  Good Friday—Riding Westward

Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By John Donne (1573–1631)

Good Friday—Riding Westward

HENCE is’t that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form 1 bends to the east;
Yet dare I almost be glad I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees God’s face, that is self-life, must die;        5
What a death were it then to see God die!
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink;
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?        10
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our souls, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust? or that flesh, which was worn        15
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory;
For that looks toward them, and Thou look’st towards me
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.        20
I turn my back to Thee but to receive
Corrections; till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust and my deformity;
Restore Thine image so much by Thy grace,        25
That Thou may’st know me, and I’ll turn my face.
Note 1. By “my soul’s form” Donne means “the natural motion of the soul”: this is overruled by the business that takes him westward. [back]