Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, by John Donne

Table of Contents

  1. The first Alteration, the first Grudging, of the Sickness.
  2. The Strength and the function of the senses, and other faculties, change and fail.
  3. The patient takes his bed.
  4. The physician is sent for.
  5. The physician comes
  6. The physician is afraid.
  7. The physician desires to have others joined with him.
  8. The King sends his own physician.
  9. Upon their consultation they prescribe.
  10. They find the disease to steal on insensibly, and endeavour to meet with it so.
  11. They use cordials, to keep the venom and malignity of the disease from the heart.
  12. They apply pigeons, to draw the vapours from the head.
  13. The sickness declares the infection and malignity thereof by spots.
  14. The physicians observe these accidents to have fallen upon the critical days.
  15. I sleep not day nor night.
  16. From the bells of the church adjoining, I am daily remembered of my burial in the funerals of others.
  17. Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die.
  18. The bell rings out, and tells me in him, that I am dead.
  19. At last the physicians, after a long and stormy voyage, see land: they have so good signs of the concoction of the disease, as that they may safely proceed to purge.
  20. Upon these indications of digested matter, they proceed to purge.
  21. God prospers their practice, and he, by them, calls Lazarus out of his tomb, me out of my bed.
  22. The physicians consider the root and occasion, the embers, and coals, and fuel of the disease, and seek to purge or correct that.
  23. They warn me of the fearful danger of relapsing.

To the Most Excellent Prince,
Prince Charles.


I have had three births; one, natural, when I came into the world; one, supernatural, when I entered into the ministry; and now, a preternatural birth, in returning to life, from this sickness. In my second birth, your Highness’ royal father vouchsafed me his hand, not only to sustain me in it, but to lead me to it. In this last birth, I myself am born a father: this child of mine, this book, comes into the world, from me, and with me. And therefore, I presume (as I did the father, to the Father) to present the son to the Son; this image of my humiliation, to the lively image of his Majesty, your Highness. It might be enough, that God hath seen my devotions: but examples of good kings are commandments; and Hezekiah writ the meditations of his sickness, after his sickness. Besides, as I have lived to see (not as a witness only, but as a partaker), the happiness of a part of your royal father’s time, so shall I live (in my way) to see the happiness of the times of your Highness too, if this child of mine, inanimated by your gracious acceptation, may so long preserve alive the memory of

Your Highness humblest and devotedest,


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53