John Donne
Decubitus sequitur tandem.
The Patient takes his bed.

WEE attribute but one priviledge and advantage to Mans body, above other moving creatures, that he is not as others, groveling, but of an erect, of an upright form, naturally built, and disposed to the contemplation of Heaven. Indeed it is a thankfull forme, and recompences that soule, which gives it, with carrying that soule so many foot higher, towards heaven. Other creatures look to the earth; and even that is no unfit object, no unfit contemplation for Man; for thither hee must come; but because, Man is not to stay there, as other creatures are, Man in his naturall forme, is carried to the contemplation of that place, which is his home, Heaven. This is Mans prerogative; but what state hath he in this dignitie? A fever can fillip him downe, a fever can depose him; a fever can bring that head, which yesterday caried a crown of gold, five foot towards a crown of glory, as low as his own foot, today. When God came to breath into Man the breath of life, he found him flat upon the ground; when he comes to withdraw that breath from him againe, hee prepares him to it, by laying him flat upon his bed. Scarse any prison so close, that affords not the prisoner two, or three steps. The Anchorites that barqu'd themselves up in hollowe trees, and immur'd themselves in hollow walls; that perverse man, that barrell'd himselfe in a Tubb, all could stand, or sit, and enjoy some change of posture. A sicke bed, is a grave; and all that the patient saies there, is but a varying of his owne Epitaph. Every nights bed is a Type of the grave: At night wee tell our servants at what houre wee will rise; here we cannot tell our selves, at what day, what week, what moneth. Here the head lies as low as the foot; the Head of the people, as lowe as they, whome those feete trod upon; And that hande that signed Pardons, is too weake to begge his owne, if he might have it for lifting up that hand: Strange fetters to the feete, strange Manacles to the hands, when the feete, and handes are bound so much the faster, by how much the coards are slacker; So much the lesse able to doe their Offices, by how much more the Sinews and Ligaments are the looser. In the Grave I may speak through the stones, in the voice of my friends, and in the accents of those wordes, which their love may afford my memory; Here I am mine owne Ghost, and rather affright my beholders, than instruct them; they conceive the worst of me now, and yet feare worse; they give me for dead now, and yet wonder how I doe, when they wake at midnight, and aske how I doe to morrow. Miserable and, (though common to all) inhuman posture, where I must practise my lying in the grave, by lying still, and not practise my Resurrection, by rising any more. 

Source :
Donne, John. The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 417-418.
The Latest (1994) Reprint for Sale at Amazon.

to Works of John Donne

Site copyright ©1996-2003 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on October 22, 2001.

Background by the kind permission of Stormi Wallpaper Boutique.