John Donne

A Nocturnal Upon St Lucy's Day

    ’Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
    Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks,
       The sun is spent, and now his flasks
       Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
5        The world’s whole sap is sunk;
    The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
    Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
    Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh,
    Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
10   Study me then, you who shall lovers be
    At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
       For I am every dead thing,
       In whom love wrought new alchemy.
         For his art did express
15   A quintessence even from nothingness,
    From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
    He ruined me, and I am re-begot
    Of absence, darkness, death; things which are not.
    All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
20   Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
       I, by Love’s limbeck, am the grave
       Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood
        Have we two wept, and so
    Drowned the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
25   To be two chaoses, when we did show
    Care to aught else; and often absences
    Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
    But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
    Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
30      Were I a man, that I were one,
       I needs must know; I should prefer,
        If I were any beast,
    Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
    And love; all, all some properties invest;
35   If I an ordinary nothing were,
    As shadow, a light and body must be here.
    But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
    You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
40      To fetch new lust, and give it you,
       Enjoy your summer all;
        Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,
    Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
    This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
45   Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.

Robert Clark

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