…from the quills of the dead white poets
John Donne (1573 – 1631)
Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm
Nor question much
That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my 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 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,
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 others’ hands these relics came.
As ’twas humility
To afford to all that a soul can do,
So ’tis some bravery,
That since you would save none of me, I bury some of you.