Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  200. The Funeral

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

John Donne. 1573–1631

200. The Funeral

WHOEVER comes to shroud me, do not harm 
        Nor question much 
That subtle wreath of hair about mine arm; 
The mystery, the sign you must not touch, 
      For ’tis my outward soul,         5
Viceroy to that which, unto heav’n being gone, 
      Will leave this to control 
And keep these limbs, her provinces, from dissolution. 
For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall 
        Through every part  10
Can tie those parts, and make me one of all; 
Those hairs, which upward grew, and strength and art 
      Have from a better brain, 
Can better do ‘t: except she meant that I 
      By this should know my pain,  15
As prisoners then are manacled, when they’re condemn’d to die. 
Whate’er she meant by ‘t, bury it with me, 
        For since I am 
Love’s martyr, it might breed idolatry 
If into other hands these reliques came.  20
      As ’twas humility 
T’ afford to it all that a soul can do, 
      So ’tis some bravery 
That, since you would have none of me, I bury some of you.