John Donne on treasure and shadow
John Donne was the most prominent of the early 17th-century poets who had something of a revival three centuries later. They were called ``metaphysical'' not in the usual sense but for ingenious, subtle, sometimes fantastic imagery. Here are two examples of Donne's way with an image, one in prose from a sermon delivered to King Charles I about 1629 and one in the complete poem, ``A Lecture Upon the Shadow.'' I have seen Minute-glasses; Glasses so short-liv'd. If I were to preach upon this Texte, to such a glass, it were enough for half the Sermon; enough to show the worldly man his Treasure, and the Object of his heart (for, where your Treasure is, there will your Heart be also) to call his eye to that Minute-glass, and to tell him, There flows, there flies your Treasure, and your Heart with it. But if I had a Secular Glass, a Glass that would run an age; if the two Hemispheres of the World wer e composed in the form of such a Glass, and all the World calcin'd and burnt to ashes, and all the ashes, and sands, and atoms of the World put into the Glass, it would not be enough to tell the godly man what his Treasure, and the Object of his Heart is. A Lecture, love, in Loves philosophy. These three houres that we have spent, Walking here, Two shadowes went Along with us, which we our selves produc'd; But, now the Sunne is just above our head, We doe those shadowes tread; And to brave clearnesse all things are reduc'd. So whilst our infant loves did grow, Disguises did, and shadowes, flow, From us, and our cares; but, now 'tis not so. That love hath not attain'd the high'st degree, Which is still diligent lest others see. Except our loves at this noone stay, We shall new shadowes make the other way. As the first were made to blinde Others; these which come behinde Will worke upon our selves, and blind our eyes. If our loves faint, and westwardly decline; To me thou, falsely, thine, And I to thee mine actions shall disguise. The morning shadowes weare away, But these grow longer all the day, But oh, loves day is short, if love decay. Love is a growing, or full constant light; And his first minute, after noone, is night.