c. 1623 | London


John Donne’s hymn to God.

Since I am coming to that holy room,
    Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
    I tune the instrument here at the door,
    And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
    Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
    That this is my south-west discovery,
    Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
    For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
    In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
    So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
    The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
    All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
    Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Ham, or Shem.

We think that paradise and Calvary,
    Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
    As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
    May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord;
    By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,
    Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”


John Donne

“Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness.” As a young man in the 1590s, Donne read law, studied theology, hunted for Spanish treasure with Sir Walter Raleigh, and wrote love lyrics. His scandalous marriage in 1602 dashed his hopes for a life in public service and left him in poverty for a decade. The metaphysical poet was ordained an Anglican priest in 1615, later becoming a favorite preacher of kings James I and Charles I.