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    Detail from Crucifixion Seen from the cross, by James Tissot.

    Poem: Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

    By John Donne

    March 21, 2016

    Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
    The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
    And as the other Spheares, by being growne
    Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
    And being by others hurried every day,
    Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
    Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
    For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
    Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West
    This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
    There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
    And by that setting endlesse day beget;
    But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
    Sinne had eternally benighted all.
    Yet dare I'almost be glad, I do not see
    That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
    Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
    What a death were it then to see God dye?
    It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
    It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
    Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
    And tune all spheares at once peirc'd with those holes?
    Could I behold that endlesse height which is
    Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
    Humbled below us? or that blood which is
    The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
    Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
    By God, for his apparell, rag'd, and torne?
    If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
    Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
    Who was Gods partner here, and furnish'd thus
    Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
    Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
    They'are present yet unto my memory,
    For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards mee,
    O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
    I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
    Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
    O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
    Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
    Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
    That thou may'st know mee, and I'll turne my face.


    Detail from Crucifixion Seen from the cross, by James Tissot, showing weeping women at the foot of the cross, surrounded by mocking pharisees and Roman soldiers.
    James Tissot, Crucifixion, seen from the Cross (detail).
    View full painting
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