Saturday, August 24, 2019


On a Huge Hill

John Donne (1572-1631), Satires 3.75-82:
He's not of none, nor worst, that seeks the best.
T'adore or scorn an image, or protest,
May all be bad; doubt wisely. In strange way,
To stand enquiring right is not to stray.
To sleep, or run wrong, is. On a huge hill,
Craggèd and steep, Truth stands, and he that will
Reach her, about must, and about must go,
And what the hill's suddenness resists, win so.
The notes in Robin Robbins, ed., The Complete Poems of John Donne (Harlow: Pearson, 2010), pp. 393-395, are excellent (In strange way = On an unfamiliar road, suddenness = steepness, etc.).

I wonder if "of none" (line 75) could be influenced by the Latin genitive of worth—J.B. Hofmann and Anton Szantyr, Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1965), pp. 72-73 (§ 57).

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