James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 31


By Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849)

  • Dr. John Donne was an English poet and divine. He was appointed Dean of St. Paul’s by James I. He died on March 31, 1631.

  • BRIEF was the reign of pure poetic truth;

    A race of thinkers next, with rhymes uncouth,

    And fancies fashioned in laborious brains,

    Made verses heavy as o’erloaded wains.

    Love was their theme, but love that dwelt in stones,

    Or charmed the stars in their concentric zones;

    Love that did erst the nuptial rites conclude

    ’Twixt immaterial form and matter rude;

    Love that was riddled, sphered, transacted, spelt,

    Sublimed, projected, everything but felt.

    Or if in age, in orders, or the cholic,

    They damned all loving as a heathen frolic;

    They changed their topic, but in style the same,

    Adored their maker as they wooed their dame.

    Thus DONNE, not first, but greatest of the line,

    Of stubborn thoughts a garland thought to twine;

    To his fair Maid brought cabalistic posies,

    And sung quaint ditties of metempsychosis;

    “Twists iron pokers into true love-knots,”

    Coining hard words, not found in polyglots.