Tuesday, April 13, 2010


A Sheaf of Snakes used heretofore to be my Seal, which is the Crest of our poor family

Adopted in God’s family, and so
My old coat lost, into new Arms I go.
The Cross, my Seal in Baptism, spread below,
Does by that form into an Anchor grow.
Crosses grow Anchors, bear as thou shouldst do
Thy Cross, and that Cross grows an Anchor too.
But he that makes our Crosses Anchors thus,
Is Christ, who there is crucified for us.
Yet with this I may my first Serpents hold; –
God gives new blessings, and yet leaves the old –
The Serpent, may, as wise, my pattern be;
My poison, as he feeds on dust, that’s me.
And, as he rounds the earth to murder, sure
He is my death; but on the Cross, my cure,
Crucify nature then; and then implore
All grace from him, crucified there before.
When all is Cross, and that Cross Anchor grown
This Seal’s a Catechism, not a Seal alone.
Under that little Seal great gifts I send,
Both works and prayes, pawns and fruits of a friend.
Oh! may that Saint that rides on our Great Seal,
To you that bear his name, large bounty deal.
                                                                        JOHN DONNE.



[Translated from Latin, presumably by Mr. Walton. Shortly before his death, Donne had a miniature of Christ on an anchor, in the manner of a crucifix, engraved in bloodstone and set in gold. Several copies were made and given to his closest friends as tokens of his affection.]

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

[... continued from yesterday...]

After a couple of years in London, Donne had reached the age when it was usual to be confirmed in the Church, but hadn’t yet decided which denomination to join. Out of love and respect for his parents and not wishing to cause a breach with his family, he was inclined to join the Roman Catholic church, but knowing how important a decision he was making he decided to study the best apologists for the Roman and Reformed faiths to find out which one was the more orthodox.

Walton says that Donne eventually left the study of the law in order to devote himself to prayerful study of this question and that he did come to the truth, but he never states when Donne was confirmed in the Anglican church, and I haven’t been able to find out from the few other sources I’ve looked into.

Donne was nineteen years old when he began this study.


  1. Oh, I like this one.

    Read it... very s.l.o.w.l.y.

  2. That's why I told Carol I wasn't reading much faster than one a week or so. I'll read one several times in a row and let it sink in before moving on to the next.

    I have so many favorites I think I could stretch the bio out over two weeks, but then we'd OD on Donne.


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