Sunday, November 20, 2005

aenigmata Divina

The Angels

From A Sermon by John Donne

That there are distinct orders of Angels, assuredly I beleeve ; but what they are, I cannot tell ; Dicant qui possunt ; si tamen probare possunt quod dicunt, saies that Father, Let them tell you that can, so they be able to prove that they tell you true. They are Creatures, that have not so much of a Body as flesh is, as froth is, as a vapor is, as a sigh is, and yet with a touch they shall molder a rock into lesse Atomes, then the sand that it stands upon ; and a milstone into smaller flower, then it grinds. They are creatures made, and yet not a minute elder now, than when they were first made, if they were made before all measure of time began ; nor, if they were made in the beginning of Time, and be now six thousand years old, have they one wrinckle of Age in their face, or one sobbe of wearinesse in the lungs. They are primogeniti Dei, Gods eldest sonnes ; They are super-elementary meteors, they hang between the nature of God, and the nature of man, and are of middle Condition ; And, (if we may offencelessely expresse it so) they are aenigmata Divina, The Riddles of Heaven, and the perplexities of speculation.


I have a passion for the old Oxoford University Press books with their blue bindings and gilt titles. There was much more variety than 'The Oxford Book of Such and Such Verse' and one of my favourites is, 'The Sermons of John Donne - Selected Passages'. The above is perhaps my favourite quote from the book.

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