La Corona,” from The Divine Poems (ca.1607)

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,

Weaved in my lone 1 devout melancholy,

Thou which of good hast, yea, art treasury,

All changing unchanged Ancient of days.

But do not with a vile crown of frail bays

Reward my Muse’s white sincerity;

But what Thy thorny crown gain’d, that give me,

A crown of glory, which doth flower always.

The ends crown our works, but Thou crown’st our ends,

For at our ends begins our endless rest.

The first last end, now zealously possess’d,

With a strong sober thirst my soul attends.

’Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high;

Salvation to all that will is nigh.

John Donne (1572-1631) was an English cleric, poet, and scholar, acclaimed as one of the finest preachers of his day. He is widely considered the preeminent metaphysical poet, prized for his inventiveness in the use of metaphor and his dramatic, vigorous style. He was ordained after a political and military career, serving as chaplain at Lincoln’s Inn, and for the last ten years of his life, as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is the first in his La Corona, a seven sonnet sequence, Donne’s debut as a religious poet, written while he was serving in parliament and as a minor functionary at the court of King James I. Donne is commemorated on the liturgical calendar of several Anglican churches on March 31.