by John Donne
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did till we loved. Were we not weaned till then,
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the seven sleepers' den?
'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear
For love all love of other sights controls
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to others worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp North, without declining West?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.
Go, and catch a falling star;
Get with child a mandrake root;
Tell me, where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot.
Teach me to hear mermaids singing
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou beest born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights
Till age snow white hairs on thee.
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
Lives a woman true, and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know;
Such a pilgrimage were sweet.
Yet do not, I would not go:
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
False, ere I come, to two, or three.
I have done one braver thing
Than all the worthies did,
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
Which is to keep that hid.
It were but madness now t'impart
The skill of specular stone,
When he which can have learned the art
To cut it, can find none.
So, if I now should utter this,
Others (because no more
Such stuff to work upon there is)
Would love but as before.
But he who loveliness within
Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who color loves and skin
Loves but their oldest clothes.
If, as I have, you also do
Virtue attired in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the he and she;
And if this love, though placèd so,
From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or if they do, deride:
Then you have done a braver thing
Than all the worthies did,
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is to keep that hid.
A Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy's Day
'Tis the year's midnight and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk:
The general balm th'hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is at the next spring:
For I am every dead thing,
In whom love wrought new alchemy,
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations and lean emptiness:
He ruined me, and I am rebegot
Of absence, darkness, death; things which are not.
All others from all things draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I by love's limbecke am the grave
Of all that's nothing. oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drowned the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls and made us carcases.
But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea, plants, yea, stones detest
And love; all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the goat is run
To fetch new lust and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night's festival
Let me prepare towards her and let me call
This hour her vigil and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.
Sweetest love, I do not go
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me;
But since that I
Must die at last, 'tis best
To use myself in jest,
Thus by feigned deaths to die;
Yesternight the sun went hence,
And yet is here to-day;
He hath no desire nor sense,
Nor half so short a way:
Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.
O how feeble is man's power,
That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour
Nor a lost hour recall!
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length
Itself o'er us to advance.
When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind
But sigh'st my soul away;
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's blood doth decay.
It cannot be
That thou lov'st me, as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste
That art the best of me.
Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill;
Destiny may take thy part,
And may thy fears fulfil;
But think that we
Are but turned aside to sleep;
They who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.
Death, Be Not Proud
Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks:
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There will the river whispering run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more then the Sun.
And there th'inamored fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.
When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee than thou him.
If thou, to be so seen, beest loth,
By Sun, or Moon, thou darknest both,
And if my self have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.
Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net:
Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,
Or curious traitors, sleavesilke flies
Bewitch poor fishes wandering eyes.
For thee, thou needst no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait;
That fish, that is not catched thereby,
Alas, is wiser far than I.
Send home my long stray'd eyes to me,
Which O too long have dwelt on thee,
Yet since there they have learn'd such ill,
Such forc'd fashions,
And false passions,
That they be
Made by thee
Fit for no good sight, keep them still.
Send home my worthless heart again,
Which no unworthy thought could stain,
Which if't be taught by thine
To make jestings
And cross both
Word and oath,
Keep it, for then 'tis none of mine.
Yet send me back my heart and eyes,
That I may know, and see thy lies,
And may laugh and joy, when thou
Art in anguish
And dost languish
For some one
That will non,
Or prove as false as thou art now.
Upon this Primrose hill,
Where, if Heav'n would distill
A shower of rain, each several drop might go
To his own primrose, and grow Manna so;
And where their form, and their infinity
Make a terrestrial galaxy,
As the small stars do in the sky:
I walk to find a true love, and I see
That 'tis not a mere woman, that is she,
But must, or more, or less than woman be.
Yet know I not, which flower
I wish; a six, or four
For should my true-love less than woman be,
She were scarce anything; and then, should she
Be more than woman, she would get above
All thought of sex, and think to move
My heart to study her, and not to love;
Both these were monsters; since there must reside
Falsehood in woman, I could more abide,
She were by art, than Nature falsify'd.
Live Primrose then, and thrive
With thy true number five;
And women, whom this flower doth represent,
With this mysterious number be content'
Ten is the farthest number; if half ten
Belong to each women, then
Each woman may take half us men,
Or if this will not serve their turn, since all
Numbers are odd, or even, and they fall
First into this five, women may take us all.
When I died last, and, Dear, I die
As often as from thee I go,
Though it be but an hour ago,
And Lovers' hours be full eternity,
I can remember yet, that I
Something did say, and something did bestow;
Though I be dead, which sent me, I should be
Mine own executor and legacy.
I heard me say, "Tell her anon,
That myself, that is you, not I,
Did kill me," and when I felt me die,
I bid me send my heart, when I was gone,
But alas could there find none,
When I had ripp'd me, and search'd where hearts should lie;
It kill'd me again, that I who still was true,
In life, in my last will should cozen you.
Yet I found something like a heart,
But colors it, and corners had,
It was not good, it was not bad,
It was intire to none, and few had part.
As good as could be made by art
It seem'd, and therefore for our losses sad,
I meant to send this heart in stead of mine,
But oh, no man could hold it, for 'twas thine.
Although thy hand and faith, and good works too,
Have seal'd thy love which nothing should undo,
Yea though thou fall back, that apostasy
Confirm thy love; yet much, much I fear thee.
Women are like the Arts, forc'd unto none,
Open to'all searchers, unpriz'd, if unknown.
If I have caught a bird, and let him fly,
Another fouler using these meanes, as I,
May catch the same bird; and, as these things be,
Women are made for men, not him, nor me.
Foxes and goats; all beasts change when they please,
Shall women, more hot, wily, wild then these,
Be bound to one man, and did Nature then
Idly make them apter to endure than men?
They are our clogges, not their owne; if a man be
Chain'd to a galley, yet the galley is free;
Who hath a plow-land, casts all his seed corn there,
And yet allows his ground more corn should bear;
Though Danuby into the sea must flow,
The sea receives the Rhene, Volga, and Po.
By nature, which gave it, this liberty
Thou lov'st, but Oh! canst thou love it and me?
Likeness glues love: Then if so thou do,
To make us like and love, must I change too?
More than thy hate, I hate it, rather let me
Allow her change, then change as oft as she,
And soe not teach, but force my opinion
To love not any one, nor every one.
To live in one land is captivity,
To run all countries, a wild roguery;
Waters stink soon, if in one place they bide,
And in the vast sea are worse putrified:
But when they kiss one bank, and leaving this
Never look back, but the next bank do kiss,
Then are they purest; Change is the nursery
Of music, joy, life, and eternity.
Elegy: Going to Bed
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labor, I in labor lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir'd with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's Zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th'eyes of busy fools may be stopt there.
Unlace your self, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envie,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beautious state reveals,
As when from flow'ry meads th'hills shadow steals.
Off with that wiry Coronet and show
The hairy diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then softly tread
In this, love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven's Angels us'd to be
Receiv'd by men: thou Angel bringst with thee
A heaven like Mahomet's Paradice, and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we eas'ly know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
License my roaving hands, and let them go,
Behind, before, above, between, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man man'd,
My mine of precious stones: my emperie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be,
To taste whole joyes. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in mens views,
That when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them:
Like pictures or like books gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are mystick books, which only wee
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see rever'd. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a midwife show
Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence:
To teach thee I am naked first; why than
What needst thou have more covering then a man?
I long to talk with some old lover's ghost,
Who died before the god of Love was born:
I cannot think that he, who then lov'd most,
Sunk so low, as to love one which did scorn.
But since this god produc'd a destiny,
And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be;
I must love her, that loves not me.
Sure, they which made him god, meant not so much:
Nor he, in his young godhead practic'd it.
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,
His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to passives. Correspondency
Only his subject was; it cannot be
Love, till I love her, that loves me.
But every modern god will now extend
His vast perogative, as far as Jove.
To rage, to lust, to write it, to commend,
All is the purlew of the God of Love.
Oh, were we wakened by this tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be
That I should love, who loves not me.
Rebel and Atheist too, why murmur I,
As though I felt the worst that love could do?
Love might make me leave loving, or might try
A deeper plague, to make her love me too,
Which since she loves before, I am loth to see;
Falsehood is worse than hate; and that must be
If she whom I love, should love me.