Home  »  Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the Seventeenth Century  »  124. To Sir H. W. at his going Ambassador to Venice

Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C. 1921.

John Donne

124. To Sir H. W. at his going Ambassador to Venice

AFTER those reverend papers, whose soule is
  Our good and great Kings lov’d hand and fear’d name,
By which to you he derives much of his,
  And (how he may) makes you almost the same,
A Taper of his Torch, a copie writ          5
  From his Originall, and a faire beame
Of the same warme, and dazeling Sun, though it
  Must in another Sphere his vertue streame:
After those learned papers which your hand
  Hath stor’d with notes of use and pleasure too,   10
From which rich treasury you may command
  Fit matter whether you will write or doe:
After those loving papers, where friends send
  With glad griefe, to your Sea-ward steps, farewel,
Which thicken on you now, as prayers ascend   15
  To heaven in troupes at’a good mans passing bell:
Admit this honest paper, and allow
  It such an audience as your selfe would aske;
What you must say at Venice this meanes now,
  And hath for nature, what you have for taske:   20
To sweare much love, not to be chang’d before
  Honour alone will to your fortune fit;
Nor shall I then honour your fortune, more
  Then I have done your honour wanting it.
But’tis an easier load (though both oppresse)   25
  To want, then governe greatnesse, for wee are
In that, our owne and onely businesse,
  In this, wee must for others vices care;
‘Tis therefore well your spirits now are plac’d
  In their last Furnace, in activity;   30
Which fits them (Schooles and Courts and Warres o’rpast)
  To touch and test in any best degree.
For mee, (if there be such a thing as I)
  Fortune (if there be such a thing as shee)
Spies that I beare so well her tyranny,   35
  That she thinks nothing else so fit for mee;
But though she part us, to heare my oft prayers
  For your increase, God is as neere mee here;
And to send you what I shall begge, his staires
  In length and ease are alike every where.   40