To Sir Henry Wotton, at his going Ambassador to Venice

Original Text: 
Donne, John. The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters of John Donne. Edited by W. Milgate. London: Oxford University Press, 1967: 75-76.
1After those reverend papers, whose soul is
2    Our good and great king's loved hand and fear'd name,
3By which to you he derives much of his,
4    And (how he may) makes you almost the same,
5A taper of his torch, a copy writ
6    From his original, and a fair beam
7Of the same warm and dazzling sun, though it
8    Must in another sphere his virtue stream:
9After those learned papers which your hand
10    Hath stored with notes of use and pleasures too,
11From which rich treasury you may command
12    Fit matter whether you will write or do:
13After those loving papers where friends send,
14    With glad grief to your sea-ward steps, farewell,
15Which thicken on you now, as prayers ascend
16    To heaven in troops, at a good man's passing-bell:
17Admit this honest paper, and allow
18    It such an audience as yourself would ask;
19What you must say at Venice, this means now,
20    And hath for nature, what you have for task.
21To swear much love, not to be changed before
22    Honour, alone will to your fortune fit;
23Nor shall I then honour your fortune, more
24    Than I have done your honour, wanting it.
25But 'tis an easier load (though both oppress)
26    To want, than govern greatness, for we are
27In that, our own and only business,
28    In this, we must for others' vices care;
29'Tis therefore well your spirits now are placed
30    In their last furnace, in activity;
31Which fits them (schools and courts and wars o'erpast)
32    To touch and test in any best degree.
33For me, (if there be such a thing as I)
34    Fortune (if there be such a thing as she)
35Spies that I bear so well her tyranny,
36    That she thinks nothing else so fit for me;
37But, though she part us, to hear my oft prayers
38    For your increase, God is as near me here;
39And to send you what I shall beg, His stairs
40    In length and ease are alike everywhere.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
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