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What if this present were the world's last night? (1945)


Part of a series or song cycle:

The Holy Sonnets of John Donne (Op. 35)


What if this present were the world's last night?

What if this present were the world's last night?
Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Teares in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc'd head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee into hell,
Which pray'd forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
No, no; but as in my Idolatrie
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulenesse onely is
A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign'd,
This beauteous forme assures a piteous minde.

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Composer

Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

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Poet

John Donne was an English poet and cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets.

He studied at Hart Hall, Oxford, which is now Hertford College, best known for its iconic Hertford Bridge, or 'Bridge of Sighs'.

You can read more about him here, and read some of his poetry here.


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