He never says you should have.

This poem by John Donne I believe did not start out as a poem. Someone posted it as follows, in poetic lines, but I found the same lines as prose on Bartleby.com, in the middle of a passage in “Sermons Preached on Christmas Day.” Donne evidently did not give the title “In Heaven it is Always Autumn” to anything, but more than one person has more recently used his line to title a poem, as I found in my searching.

Donne uses several vivid words to describe the winter we can experience in our soul at any time of year, showing that he is familiar with that inner dark and coldness. We know that he did suffer terrible grief when his wife died, and it was doubtless not the only occasion when he felt desperate need of God’s presence and mercy.

The first time I posted these words it was autumn, but now I am trying for closer to Christmas, in the spirit of their preacher.

In heaven it is always autumn,
His mercies are ever in their maturity.
We ask our daily bread
And God never says
You should have come yesterday,
He never says
You must again tomorrow,
But today if you will hear His voice,
Today He will hear you.
He brought light out of darkness,
Not out of a lesser light;
He can bring thy summer out of winter
Tho’ thou have no spring,
Though in the ways of fortune or understanding or conscience
Thou have been benighted til now,
Wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed,
Damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied til now,
Now God comes to thee,
Not as in the dawning of the day,
Not as in the bud of the spring
But as the sun at noon,
As the sheaves in harvest.

– John Donne, 1624

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the archives – 2014

12 thoughts on “He never says you should have.

  1. These are absolutely splendid words – if prose, certainly poetic prose, and must have made a really beautiful sermon! “He can bring thy summer out of winter Tho’ thou have no spring,” –
    I can hear “in the bleak midwinter” here but without the plaintive strain:
    “Wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed,
    Damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied til now,
    Now God comes to thee,
    Not as in the dawning of the day,
    Not as in the bud of the spring
    But as the sun at noon,
    As the sheaves in harvest.”
    Really splendid images!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is so comforting to know that God comes to me as the sun at noon and the sheaves at harvest, never telling me to come back another day. Wintered and frozen is not a state I want to return to.

    Ronald Blythe quotes John Donne a lot in his books. He calls him “the good Dr. Donne.” Is that the same Donne?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dewena, I didn’t know who Ronald Blythe was, but prompted by your comment to read about him just now, I think the person he names “the good Dr. Donne” could be no other than this poet and priest who had been awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Cambridge University. His story is fascinating; he did not want to be a priest but King James VI pressured him to take orders. Besides “Annunciation” and this sermon excerpt, each of which I’ve posted twice now, I’ve shared two other things from Donne on my blog:

      https://gretchenjoanna.com/2013/07/30/trace-him-by-the-branches/

      https://gretchenjoanna.com/2011/02/11/the-crosse/

      Like

  3. “He can bring thy summer out of winter
    Tho’ thou have no spring,”

    This is beautiful. I will be sharing this with others. Thank you for sharing it and reminding me of how much more there is to find in Donne. I’ve loved his words since high school. Will never forget singing “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners,” when our chorus director had our English teacher come in to try to help everyone understand what we were saying! Powerful words and music.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.