The mission of departure: overcoming silence, and the legacy of posthumous image. John Donne’s marble effigy and his final sermon, Deaths Duell (1631) by Kate Vervain
John Donne (1572-1631) – poet, preacher, and many things in between, spoke in his final sermon: ‘we come into a world that lasts many ages, but we last not’.2 While life is impermanent, artistic legacies endure; Donne’s poetry in the current era is the subject of much scholarship. His death however would have been little written about some four centuries later if not for the fact Donne conducted a series of final preparations to shape his reputation posthumously. This article considers the changing format, or second life, of two artefacts: Donne’s final sermon, once oratory, now textual, and his marble statue, modelled on a dying, soon to be lifeless body, now a solid representation of his continuing cultural presence and his belief in resurrection.