Donne compares himself with four types of corruption: the drunkard, the thief, the sexually immoral and those who are proud of their acts. He did have a better vocabulary than we are allowed in this fallen time, where being proud is mandatory, and the godly sorrow of repentance is considered unthinkable, a crime against the self esteem of humanity.
This age is foolish. Donne was wiser.
O! might those sighs and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourn’d in vain.
In mine Idolatry what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste? what griefs my heart did rent?
That sufferance was my sin, I now repent;
‘Cause I did suffer, I must suffer pain.
Th’ hydroptic drunkard, and night-scouting thief,
The itchy lecher, and self-tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joys, for relief
Of coming ills. To poor me is allow’d
No ease; for long, yet vehement grief hath been
Th’ effect and cause, the punishment and sin.