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.
About the headline (FAQ)
- by John Donne (1572 - 1631), no title, appears in Holy Sonnets, no. 13 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976), "What if this present", op. 35 no. 5 (1945), published 1946 [ high voice and piano ], from The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, no. 5 [sung text checked 1 time]
- by John Eaton (1935 - 2015), "What if this present were the world's last night?", op. 1 no. 4, first performed 1957 [ voice and full orchestra ], from Song Cycle on Holy Sonnets of John Donne, no. 4 [sung text not yet checked]
- by Juliana Hall (b. 1958), "What if this present ", 2013, first performed 2014 [ tenor and piano ], from The Holy Sonnets of John Donne - 9 Songs for Tenor and Piano, no. 5 [sung text checked 1 time]
Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
- GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 109