Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward
By John Donne
LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.
Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul's form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face.
Am using a slightly modernized-spelling version of Donne because people seem to get hung up on Es and Ls in places to which they are unaccustomed to such letters, but there's an earlier version at Bartleby. This one is edited by E.K. Chambers from the 1896 edition of Donne's poems.
And I am driving westward, though only to Hanover, and Good Friday does not have any special spiritual significance for me, though the Tenebrea service is beautiful; this year, between The Passion and the antisemitic Google bombing, I'm actually rather not in the mood to have Christianity shoved down my throat by the decorations at department stores and the hundred varieties of candy eggs for Easter baskets at the big-box stores. When did Easter become Valentine's Day? I always thought of it as a religious holiday, as opposed to Christmas which for the majority of celebrants I know is rather more cultural/commercial. Given this mood it's kind of funny that I am looking forward to celebrating a completely non-religious Easter with my very Christian in-laws with whom I celebrated a rather more religious Passover earlier this week.
And I am going to see Gettysburg, and maybe Boyd's Bears, and totallykate! And it's gorgeous outside right now. So have a good Good Friday (a peaceful one at least if you stay indoors and pray/meditate) and I probably won't be around much, except with groundhog photos...will have little time to read the flist on the dial-up in Pennsylvania. Off with a snitch from eiluned because I liked the quiz: