Today's poem is from John Donne's sonnet sequence La Corona (“the crown”). This sequence works like a set of Ignatian meditations: sharp visualisations of scenes from the life of Christ are supposed to enhance devotion. The more vividly one can imagine the scents, sounds, colours, textures of the scene, the more one is involved and inspired to worship. With Donne, however, the conceptual enormities and ambiguities always seem to get in the way of pure sensuality. He can't help but wander into paradox and obscurity while trying to keep his mind on the physical events of Jesus' birth. I can't help but like him the more for it.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.