Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A NOCTURNAL UPON ST. LUCY'S DAY, BEING THE SHORTEST DAY, by JOHN DONNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's
Last Line: Both the year's, and the day's deep midnight is.
Variant Title(s): A Nocturnall Upon S. Lucies Day, Being The Shortest Day
Subject(s): December; Holidays; Light; Mourning; New Year; Winter; Bereavement

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life i sshrunk,
Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring:
For I am every dead thing,
In whom love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruined me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death; things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I, by love's limbeck, am the grave
Of all that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drowned the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to naught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing but elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, al some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,

As a shadow, a light and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my Sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat [Capricorn] is run
To fetch new lust, and give it to you,
Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night's festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her Virgil, and her Eve, since this
Both the year's, and the day's deep midnight is.

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