The Storm (Donne)

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For works with similar titles, see The Storm.
The Storme
by John Donne

The Storme To Mr. Christopher Brooke, (from the Island Voyage with the Earl of Essex.)


Thou which art I, ('tis nothing to be soe)

Thou which art still thy selfe, by these shalt know

Part of our passage; and, a hand, or eye

By Hilliard drawne, is worth a history,

By a worse painter made; and (without pride)

When by thy judgment they are dignifi’d,

My lines are such. 'Tis the preheminence

Of friendship onely to’impute excellence.

England, to whom we’owe, what we be, and have,

Said that her sonnes did seeke a forraine grave

(For, Fate's, or Fortune's drifts none can soothsay,

Honour and misery have one face, and way)

From out her pregnant intrailes sigh'd a winde,

Which at th'ayres middle marble roome did finde

Such strong resistance, that it selfe it threw

Downeward againe ; and so when it did view

How in the port, our fleet deare time did leese,

Withering like prisoners, which lye but for fees,

Mildly it kist our sailes, and, fresh and sweet

As, to a stomach sterv’d, whose insides meete,

Meate comes, it came; and swole our sailes, when wee

So joyd, as Sara’her swelling joy'd to see.

But 'twas but so kinde, as our countrimen,

Which bring friends one dayes way, and leave them then.

Then like two mighty Kings, which dwelling farre

Asunder, meet against a third to warre,

The South and West winds joyn'd, and, as they blew,

Waves like a rolling trench before them threw.

Sooner than you read this line, did the gale,

Like shot, not fear'd, till felt, our sails assaile;

And what at first was call'd a gust, the same

Hath now a stormes, anon a tempests name.

Jonas, I pitty thee, and curse those men

Who, when the storm rage’d most, did wake thee then.

Sleepe is paines easiest salve, and doth fulfill

All offices of death, except to kill.

But when I wakt, I saw, that I saw not.

I, and the Sunne, which should teach mee’had forgot

East, West, day, night, and I could onely say,

If’the world had lasted, now it had been day.

Thousands our noyses were, yet wee'mongst all

Could none by his right name, but thunder, call:

Lightning was all our light, and it rain'd more

Than if the Sunne had drunke the sea before;

Some coffin'd in their cabins lye, ‘equally

Griev’d that they are not dead, and yet must die.

And as sin-burd’ned soules from grave will creepe,

At the last day, some forth their cabins peepe:

And tremblingly’aske what newes, and doe heare so,

Like jealous husbands, what they would not know.

Some sitting on the hatches, would seeme there,

With hideous gazing to feare away feare.

Then note they the ship's sicknesses, the Mast

Shak’d with an ague, and the Hold and Wast

With a salt dropsie clog'd, and all our tacklings

Snapping, like too- high-stretched treble strings.

And from our totterd sailes, ragges drop downe so,

As from one hang'd in chaines a year agoe.

Even our Ordnance plac’d for our defence,

Strive to breake loose, and scape away from thence.

Pumping hath tir’d our men, and what's the gaine?

Seas into seas throwne, we suck in againe;

Hearing hath deaf'd our saylers: and if they

Knew how to heare, there's none knowes what to say.

Compar’d to these stormes, death is but a qualme,

Hell somewhat lightsome, and the’Bermuda calme.

Darknesse, lights elder brother, his birth-right

Claims o'er this world, and to heaven hath chas’d light.

All things are one, and that one none can be,

Since all formes uniforme deformity

Doth cover, so that wee, except God say

Another Fiat, shall have no more day.

So violent, yet long these furies bee,

That though thine absence starve me,‘I wish not thee.


John Donne