Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne
Oceano tandem emenso,
     ascipienda resurgit
Terra;   vident,   justis,
     medici, jam cocta mederi
     se posse, indiciis.

At last, the Physitians, after a
long and stormie voyage, see
land; They have so good signes
of the concoction of the disease,
as that they may safely proceed
to purge.

ALL this while the Physitians themselves have beene patients, patiently attending when they should see any land in this Sea, any earth, any cloud, any indication of concoction in these waters. Any disorder of mine, any pretermission of theirs, exalts the disease, accelerates the rages of it; no diligence accelerates the concoction, the maturitie of the disease; they must stay till the season of the sicknesse come, and till it be ripened of it selfe, and then they may put to their hand, to gather it before it fall off, but they cannot hasten the ripening. Why should wee looke for it in a disease, which is the disorder, the discord, the irregularities the commotion, and rebellion of the body? It were scarce a disease, if it could bee ordered, and made obedient to our times. Why should wee looke for that in disorder, in a disease, when we cannot have it in Nature, who is so regular, and so pregnant, so forward to bring her worke to perfection, and to light? Yet we cannot awake the July-flowers in January, nor retard the flowers of the spring to autumne. We cannot bid the fruits come in May, nor the leaves to sticke on in December. A woman that is weake cannot put off her ninth moneth to a tenth for her deliveries and say shee will stay till shee bee stronger; nor a Queene cannot hasten it to a seventh, that shee may bee ready for some other pleasure. Nature (if we looke for durable and vigorous effects) will not admit preventions, nor anticipations, nor obligations upon her; for they are precontracts, and she will bee left to her libertie. Nature would not be spurred, nor forced to mend her pace; nor power, the power of man; greatnesse loves not that kinde of violence neither. There are of them that will give, that will do justice, that will pardon, but they have their owne seasons for al these, and he that knowes not them, shall starve before that gift come, and ruine, before the justice, and dye before the pardon save him: some tree beares no fruit, except much dung be laid about it; and Justice comes not from some, till they bee richly manured: some trees require much visiting, much watring, much labour; and some men give not their fruits but upon importunitie; some trees require incision, and pruning, and lopping; some men must bee intimidated and syndicated with Commissions, before they will deliver the fruits of Justice; some trees require the early and the often accesse of the Sunne; some men open not, but upon the favours and letters of Court mediation; some trees must bee housd and kept within doore; some men locke up, not onely their liberalitie, but their Justice, and their compassion, till the sollicitatiorn of a wife, or a sonne, or a friend, or a servant turne the key. Reward is the season of one man, and importunitie of another; feare the season of one man, and favour of another; friendship the season of one man, and naturall affection of another; and hee that knowes not their seasons, nor cannot stay them, must lose the fruits; As Nature will not, so power and greatnesse will not bee put to change their seasons; and shall wee looke for this Indulgence in a disease, or thinke to shake it off before it bee ripe? All this while, therefore, we are but upon a defensive warre, and that is but a doubtfull state; especially where they who are besieged doe know the best of their defences, and doe not know the worst of their enemies power; when they cannot mend their works within, and the enemie can increase his numbers without. O how many farre more miserable, and farre more worthy to be lesse miserable than I, are besieged with this sicknesse, and lacke their Sentinels, their Physitians to watch, and lacke their munition, their cordials to defend, and perish before the enemies weaknesse might invite them to sally, before the disease shew any declination, or admit any way of working upon it selfe! In me the siege is so farre slackned, as that we may come to fight, and so die in the field, if I die, and not in a prison

Source :
Donne, John.  The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 444-446.
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