Homework Assistance
 Your teacher given you an impossible task? In search of divine inspiration to help you along? 

eMule -> The Poetry Archive -> Forums -> Homework Assistance


Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
"Hymn to God..." by Donne
Posted by: Poundeliot (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 16, 2006 03:02AM

Since I am coming to that holy room
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think now before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my southwest discovery
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits, I see my West;
For, though those currents yield return to none,
What shall my West hurt me? As West and East
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The Eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapped, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns give me his other crown;
And, as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down.

-------------------------------------------------------

There are a few things that I can't quite get to grips with in the above poem. Maybe you can help me to see it in a different light.

1) First stanza: "I shall be made thy music" means simply that "I" shall play when I enter the room. Having tuned the instrument and so forth...
"And what I must do then, think now before" - I honestly don't know what that could mean.

2) Fourth stanza: Japhet - is that Noah's son? THought to be the father of all Europeans? Cham - isn't that some ancient "linguistic people" (you know) in Asia? Shem - I have no idea - do you?

3) Sixth stanza: "By these thorns give me his other crown" - I can't really understand the term "thorns".
I suppose the very last line expresses the prayer that the one "thrown down" by God will be able to rise again, to put it crudely.


Any comment is more than welcome. I'm still not sure whether or not Donne is ready to leave his mortal life behind - whether he thinks death will be "kind" to him...

Thanks!

/Poundeliot


Re: "Hymn to God..." by Donne
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 16, 2006 03:55AM

They're ALL Noah's sons

The table of nations in Genesis 10 begins by listing Noah's immediate children:

* Ham, forefather of the southern peoples (Hamitic Africa)
* Shem, forefather of the middle peoples (Semitic Arabia)
* Japheth, forefather of the northern peoples (Japhetic Europe)

[en.wikipedia.org]


Re: "Hymn to God..." by Donne
Posted by: Linda (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 16, 2006 10:31AM

Re. the last two stanzas.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross and Adam's tree, stood in one place;

It is believed that Golgatha, the Place of the Skull, was not only the site of the crucifixion, but also Adam's burial place.

As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.


Our descent from the first Adam condemns us to hard work and death. Christ is the last Adam whose sacrifice saves us and gets us into heaven.

So, in his purple wrapped, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns give me his other crown


Before his crucifixion, the roman soldiers dressed Christ in a purple robe and a crown of thorns to make fun of his description as a king. So Donne is asking to receive a heavenly crown because of Christ's death.

And, as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down


During his life Donne tried to bring others to God by explaining that they may have bad times now but they can go to heaven.


Re: "Hymn to God..." by Donne
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 16, 2006 03:46PM

"I shall be made thy music" means simply that "I" shall play when I enter the room.

I read this as expressing the idea that his soul will survive in the form of music sung by, or along with, the eternal choir of saints. (Gives a new twist to the modern expression 'soul music' !). That could be the 'hymn' referred to in the poem title.


Having tuned the instrument and so forth...

Extending that metaphorical concept. Thinking of his soul not just as music but also as the instrument playing it. Self-playing music, as it were.


"And what I must do then, think now before" - I honestly don't know what that could mean.

'must' not in the sense of obligation or of something to be willed and done, but in the sense of something certain in the future.

'think now before' = contemplate beforehand.


I suppose the very last line expresses the prayer that the one "thrown down" by God will be able to rise again, to put it crudely.

Not a prayer, but an observation about the way God behaves. God throws things down so that he may lift them up. A sermon text designed to comfort those who are 'down'. They are not God-forsaken; God will restore them; and anyone mortally ill can be confident of the resurrection of the soul.

As a sermon text, it should be a quote from somewhere in the bible, presumably paraphrased in the poem by poetic licence, but I can't pinpoint it.


Re: "Hymn to God..." by Donne
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 18, 2006 06:52PM

That all makes sense to me - Toronto has some small additions as well:

[rpo.library.utoronto.ca]




Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This poetry forum at emule.com powered by Phorum.