Home  »  The Book of Elizabethan Verse  »  John Donne (1572–1631)

William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

The Funeral

John Donne (1572–1631)

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,

Viceroy to that which, unto heaven 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,

Can tie those parts, and make me one of all;

Those hairs, which upward grow, and strength and art

Have from a better brain,

Can better do ’t: except she meant that I

By this should know my pain,

As prisoners then are manacled, when they’re condemn’d to die.

Whate’er she meant by it, bury it with me,

For since I am

Love’s martyr, it might breed idolatry

If into other hands these reliques came.

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.