A Valediction: of the Book

1I'll tell thee now (dear love) what thou shalt do
2    To anger destiny, as she doth us,
3    How I shall stay, though she eloign me thus,
4And how posterity shall know it too;
5            How thine may out-endure
6            Sibyl's glory, and obscure
7            Her who from Pindar could allure,
8And her, through whose help Lucan is not lame,
9And her, whose book (they say) Homer did find, and name.
10Study our manuscripts, those myriads
11    Of letters, which have past 'twixt thee and me,
12    Thence write our annals, and in them will be,
13To all whom love's subliming fire invades,
14            Rule and example found;
15            There the faith of any ground
16            No schismatic will dare to wound,
17That sees, how Love this grace to us affords,
18To make, to keep, to use, to be these his records.
19This book, as long-lived as the elements,
20    Or as the world's form, this all-graved tome,
21    In cipher writ, or new made idiom;
22We for Love's clergy only are instruments.
23            When this book is made thus,
24            Should again the ravenous
25            Vandals and Goths invade us,
26Learning were safe ; in this our universe
27Schools might learn sciences, spheres music, angels verse.
28Here Love's divines, (since all divinity
29    Is love or wonder) may find all they seek,
30    Whether abstract spiritual love they like,
31Their souls exhaled with what they do not see,
32            Or, loth so to amuse
33            Faith's infirmity, they choose
34            Something which they may see and use;
35For, though mind be the heaven, where love doth sit,
36Beauty a convenient type may be to figure it.
37Here more than in their books may lawyers find,
38    Both by what titles mistresses are ours,
39    And how prerogative these states devours,
40Transferr'd from Love himself, to womankind,
41            Who, though from heart and eyes,
42            They exact great subsidies,
43            Forsake him who on them relies,
44And for the cause, honour, or conscience give,
45Chimeras vain as they or their prerogative.
46Here statesmen, (or of them, they which can read,)
47    May of their occupation find the grounds.
48    Love, and their art, alike it deadly wounds,
49If to consider what 'tis, one proceed:
50            In both they do excel
51            Who the present govern well,
52            Whose weakness none doth, or dares tell;
53In this thy book, such will there something see,
54As in the Bible some can find out alchemy.
55Thus vent thy thoughts ; abroad I'll study thee,
56    As he removes far off, that great heights takes;
57    How great love is, presence best trial makes,
58But absence tries how long this love will be;
59            To take a latitude
60            Sun, or stars, are fitliest view'd
61            At their brightest, but to conclude
62Of longitudes, what other way have we,
63But to mark when and where the dark eclipses be?
Publication Notes: 
Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 67-69.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
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