Epitaph on Himself
Donne, John. The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters of John Donne. Edited by W. Milgate. London: Oxford University Press, 1967: 103.
2That I might make your cabinet my tomb,
3And for my fame, which I love next my soul,
4Next to my soul provide the happiest room,
5 Admit to that place this last funeral scroll.
6 Others by testament give legacies, but I
7 Dying, of you do beg a legacy.
8My fortune and my choice this custom break,
9When we are speechless grown to make stones speak,
10Though no stone tell thee what I was, yet thou
11In my grave's inside seest what thou art now,
12Yet thou 'rt not yet so good; till death us lay
13To ripe and mellow here, we're stubborn clay.
14Parents make us earth, and souls dignify
15Us to be glass; here to grow gold we lie.
16Whilst in our souls sin bred and pamper'd is,
17Our souls become worm-eaten carcases,
18So we ourselves miraculously destroy.
19Here bodies with less miracle enjoy
20Such privileges, enabled here to scale
21Heaven, when the trumpet's air shall them exhale.
22Hear this, and mend thyself, and thou mend'st me,
23By making me, being dead, do good for thee ;
24 And think me well composed, that I could now
25 A last sick hour to syllables allow.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh