or enter with: facebook twitter google Forgot your password? | Signup
or enter with: facebook twitter google
John donne

John Donne

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
5

This is my play’s last scene; here heavens appoint
My pilgrimage’s last mile; and my race,
Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace,
My span’s last inch, my minute’s latest point;
And gluttonous death will instantly unjoint
My body and my soul, and I shall sleep a space;
But my’ever—waking part shall see that face
Whose fear already shakes my every joint.
Then, as my soul to’heaven, her first seat, takes flight,
And earth—born body in the earth shall dwell,
So fall my sins, that all may have their right,
To where they’are bred, and would press me, to hell.
Impute me righteous, thus purg’d of evil,
For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.

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 practis’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 prerogative as far as Jove.
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend,
      All is the purlieu of the god of love.
O! were we waken’d by this tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be
      I should love her, 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.

When that rich soul which to her heaven is gone,
Whom all do celebrate, who know they have one
(For who is sure he hath a soul, unless
It see, and judge, and follow worthiness,
And by deeds praise it? He who doth not this,
May lodge an inmate soul, but 'tis not his)
When that queen ended here her progress time,
And, as t’her standing house, to heaven did climb,
Where loath to make the saints attend her long,
She’s now a part both of the choir, and song;
This world, in that great earthquake languished;
For in a common bath of tears it bled,
Which drew the strongest vital spirits out;
But succour’d then with a perplexed doubt,
Whether the world did lose, or gain in this,
(Because since now no other way there is,
But goodness, to see her, whom all would see,
All must endeavour to be good as she)
This great consumption to a fever turn’d,
And so the world had fits; it joy’d, it mourn’d;
And, as men think, that agues physic are,
And th’ ague being spent, give over care,
So thou, sick world, mistak’st thy self to be
Well, when alas, thou’rt in a lethargy.
Her death did wound and tame thee then, and then
Thou might’st have better spar’d the sun, or man.
That wound was deep, but ‘tis more misery
That thou hast lost thy sense and memory.
’Twas heavy then to hear thy voice of moan,
But this is worse, that thou art speechless grown.
Thou hast forgot thy name thou hadst; thou wast
Nothing but she, and her thou hast o’erpast.
For, as a child kept from the font until
A prince, expected long, come to fulfill
The ceremonies, thou unnam’d had’st laid,
Had not her coming, thee her palace made;
Her name defin’d thee, gave thee form, and frame,
And thou forget’st to celebrate thy name.
Some months she hath been dead (but being dead,
Measures of times are all determined)
But long she’ath been away, long, long, yet none
Offers to tell us who it is that’s gone.
But as in states doubtful of future heirs,
When sickness without remedy impairs
The present prince, they’re loath it should be said,
“The prince doth languish,” or “The prince is dead;”
So mankind feeling now a general thaw,
A strong example gone, equal to law,
The cement which did faithfully compact
And glue all virtues, now resolv’d, and slack’d,
Thought it some blasphemy to say sh’was dead,
Or that our weakness was discovered
In that confession; therefore spoke no more
Than tongues, the soul being gone, the loss deplore.
But though it be too late to succour thee,
Sick world, yea dead, yea putrified, since she
Thy’ intrinsic balm, and thy preservative,
Can never be renew’d, thou never live,
I (since no man can make thee live) will try,
What we may gain by thy anatomy.
Her death hath taught us dearly that thou art
Corrupt and mortal in thy purest part.
Let no man say, the world itself being dead,
'Tis labour lost to have discovered
The world’s infirmities, since there is none
Alive to study this dissection;
For there’s a kind of world remaining still,
Though she which did inanimate and fill
The world, be gone, yet in this last long night,
Her ghost doth walk; that is a glimmering light,
A faint weak love of virtue, and of good,
Reflects from her on them which understood
Her worth; and though she have shut in all day,
The twilight of her memory doth stay,
Which, from the carcass of the old world free,
Creates a new world, and new creatures be
Produc’d. The matter and the stuff of this,
Her virtue, and the form our practice is.
And though to be thus elemented, arm
These creatures from home—born intrinsic harm,
(For all assum’d unto this dignity
So many weedless paradises be,
Which of themselves produce no venomous sin,
Except some foreign serpent bring it in)
Yet, because outward storms the strongest break,
And strength itself by confidence grows weak,
This new world may be safer, being told
The dangers and diseases of the old;
For with due temper men do then forgo,
Or covet things, when they their true worth know.
There is no health; physicians say that we
At best enjoy but a neutrality.
And can there be worse sickness than to know
That we are never well, nor can be so?
We are born ruinous: poor mothers cry
That children come not right, nor orderly;
Except they headlong come and fall upon
An ominous precipitation.
How witty’s ruin! how importunate
Upon mankind! It labour’d to frustrate
Even God’s purpose; and made woman, sent
For man’s relief, cause of his languishment.
They were to good ends, and they are so still,
But accessory, and principal in ill,
For that first marriage was our funeral;
One woman at one blow, then kill’d us all,
And singly, one by one, they kill us now.
We do delightfully our selves allow
To that consumption; and profusely blind,
We kill our selves to propagate our kind.
And yet we do not that; we are not men;
There is not now that mankind, which was then,
When as the sun and man did seem to strive,
(Joint tenants of the world) who should survive;
When stag, and raven, and the long—liv’d tree,
Compar’d with man, died in minority;
When, if a slow—pac’d star had stol’n away
From the observer’s marking, he might stay
Two or three hundred years to see’t again,
And then make up his observation plain;
When, as the age was long, the size was great
(Man’s growth confess’d, and recompens’d the meat),
So spacious and large, that every soul
Did a fair kingdom, and large realm control;
And when the very stature, thus erect,
Did that soul a good way towards heaven direct.
Where is this mankind now? Who lives to age,
Fit to be made Methusalem his page?
Alas, we scarce live long enough to try
Whether a true—made clock run right, or lie.
Old grandsires talk of yesterday with sorrow,
And for our children we reserve tomorrow.
So short is life, that every peasant strives,
In a torn house, or field, to have three lives.
And as in lasting, so in length is man
Contracted to an inch, who was a span;
For had a man at first in forests stray’d,
Or shipwrack’d in the sea, one would have laid
A wager, that an elephant, or whale,
That met him, would not hastily assail
A thing so equall to him; now alas,
The fairies, and the pigmies well may pass
As credible; mankind decays so soon,
We’are scarce our fathers’ shadows cast at noon,
Only death adds t’our length: nor are we grown
In stature to be men, till we are none.
But this were light, did our less volume hold
All the old text; or had we chang’d to gold
Their silver; or dispos’d into less glass
Spirits of virtue, which then scatter’d was.
But 'tis not so; w’are not retir’d, but damp’d;
And as our bodies, so our minds are cramp’d;
'Tis shrinking, not close weaving, that hath thus
In mind and body both bedwarfed us.
We seem ambitious, God’s whole work t’undo;
Of nothing he made us, and we strive too,
To bring our selves to nothing back; and we
Do what we can, to do’t so soon as he.
With new diseases on our selves we war,
And with new physic, a worse engine far.
Thus man, this world’s vice—emperor, in whom
All faculties, all graces are at home
(And if in other creatures they appear,
They’re but man’s ministers and legates there
To work on their rebellions, and reduce
Them to civility, and to man’s use);
This man, whom God did woo, and loath t’attend
Till man came up, did down to man descend,
This man, so great, that all that is, is his,
O what a trifle, and poor thing he is!
If man were anything, he’s nothing now;
Help, or at least some time to waste, allow
T’his other wants, yet when he did depart
With her whom we lament, he lost his heart.
She, of whom th’ancients seem’d to prophesy,
When they call’d virtues by the name of she;
She in whom virtue was so much refin’d,
That for alloy unto so pure a mind
She took the weaker sex; she that could drive
The poisonous tincture, and the stain of Eve,
Out of her thoughts, and deeds, and purify
All, by a true religious alchemy,
She, she is dead; she’s dead: when thou knowest this,
Thou knowest how poor a trifling thing man is,
And learn’st thus much by our anatomy,
The heart being perish’d, no part can be free,
And that except thou feed (not banquet) on
The supernatural food, religion,
Thy better growth grows withered, and scant;
Be more than man, or thou’rt less than an ant.
Then, as mankind, so is the world’s whole frame
Quite out of joint, almost created lame,
For, before God had made up all the rest,
Corruption ent’red, and deprav’d the best;
It seiz’d the angels, and then first of all
The world did in her cradle take a fall,
And turn’d her brains, and took a general maim,
Wronging each joint of th’universal frame.
The noblest part, man, felt it first; and then
Both beasts and plants, curs’d in the curse of man.
So did the world from the first hour decay,
That evening was beginning of the day,
And now the springs and summers which we see,
Like sons of women after fifty be.
And new philosophy calls all in doubt,
The element of fire is quite put out,
The sun is lost, and th’earth, and no man’s wit
Can well direct him where to look for it.
And freely men confess that this world’s spent,
When in the planets and the firmament
They seek so many new; they see that this
Is crumbled out again to his atomies.
'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone,
All just supply, and all relation;
Prince, subject, father, son, are things forgot,
For every man alone thinks he hath got
To be a phoenix, and that then can be
None of that kind, of which he is, but he.
This is the world’s condition now, and now
She that should all parts to reunion bow,
She that had all magnetic force alone,
To draw, and fasten sund’red parts in one;
She whom wise nature had invented then
When she observ’d that every sort of men
Did in their voyage in this world’s sea stray,
And needed a new compass for their way;
She that was best and first original
Of all fair copies, and the general
Steward to fate; she whose rich eyes and breast
Gilt the West Indies, and perfum’d the East;
Whose having breath’d in this world, did bestow
Spice on those Isles, and bade them still smell so,
And that rich India which doth gold inter,
Is but as single money, coin’d from her;
She to whom this world must it self refer,
As suburbs or the microcosm of her,
She, she is dead; she’s dead: when thou know’st this,
Thou know’st how lame a cripple this world is

Nature’s lay idiot, I taught thee to love,
And in that sophistry, oh, thou dost prove
Too subtle: Fool, thou didst not understand
The mystic language of the eye nor hand:
Nor couldst thou judge the difference of the air
Of sighs, and say, this lies, this sounds despair:
Nor by the’eye’s water call a malady
Desperately hot, or changing feverously.
I had not taught thee then, the alphabet
Of flowers, how they devicefully being set
And bound up, might with speechless secrecy
Deliver errands mutely, and mutually.
Remember since all thy words used to be
To every suitor, “I, ’if my friends agree”;
Since, household charms, thy husband’s name to teach,
Were all the love—tricks, that thy wit could reach;
And since, an hour’s discourse could scarce have made
One answer in thee, and that ill arrayed  
In broken proverbs, and torn sentences.
Thou art not by so many duties his,
That from the’world’s common having severed thee,
Inlaid thee, neither to be seen, nor see,
As mine: who have with amorous delicacies
Refined thee’into a blissful paradise.
Thy graces and good words my creatures be;
I planted knowledge and life’s tree in thee,
Which oh, shall strangers taste? Must I alas  
Frame and enamel plate, and drink in glass?
Chafe wax for others’ seals? break a colt’s force
And leave him then, being made a ready horse?

Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids
Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;
I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;
Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?
Is not our mistress, fair Religion,
As worthy of all our souls’ devotion
As virtue was in the first blinded age?
Are not heaven’s joys as valiant to assuage
Lusts, as earth’s honour was to them? Alas,
As we do them in means, shall they surpass
Us in the end? and shall thy father’s spirit
Meet blind philosophers in heaven, whose merit
Of strict life may be imputed faith, and hear
Thee, whom he taught so easy ways and near
To follow, damn’d? Oh, if thou dar’st, fear this;
This fear great courage and high valour is.
Dar’st thou aid mutinous Dutch, and dar’st thou lay
Thee in ships’ wooden sepulchres, a prey
To leaders’ rage, to storms, to shot, to dearth?
Dar’st thou dive seas, and dungeons of the earth?
Hast thou courageous fire to thaw the ice
Of frozen North discoveries? and thrice
Colder than salamanders, like divine
Children in th’ oven, fires of Spain and the Line,
Whose countries limbecs to our bodies be,
Canst thou for gain bear? and must every he
Which cries not, “Goddess,” to thy mistress, draw
Or eat thy poisonous words? Courage of straw!
O desperate coward, wilt thou seem bold, and
To thy foes and his, who made thee to stand
Sentinel in his world’s garrison, thus yield,
And for forbidden wars leave th’ appointed field?
Know thy foes: the foul devil, whom thou
Strivest to please, for hate, not love, would allow
Thee fain his whole realm to be quit; and as
The world’s all parts wither away and pass,
So the world’s self, thy other lov’d foe, is
In her decrepit wane, and thou loving this,
Dost love a wither’d and worn strumpet; last,
Flesh (itself’s death) and joys which flesh can taste,
Thou lovest, and thy fair goodly soul, which doth
Give this flesh power to taste joy, thou dost loathe.
Seek true religion. O where? Mirreus,
Thinking her unhous’d here, and fled from us,
Seeks her at Rome; there, because he doth know
That she was there a thousand years ago,
He loves her rags so, as we here obey
The statecloth where the prince sate yesterday.
Crantz to such brave loves will not be enthrall’d,
But loves her only, who at Geneva is call’d
Religion, plain, simple, sullen, young,
Contemptuous, yet unhandsome; as among
Lecherous humours, there is one that judges
No wenches wholesome, but coarse country drudges.
Graius stays still at home here, and because
Some preachers, vile ambitious bawds, and laws,
Still new like fashions, bid him think that she
Which dwells with us is only perfect, he
Embraceth her whom his godfathers will
Tender to him, being tender, as wards still
Take such wives as their guardians offer, or
Pay values. Careless Phrygius doth abhor
All, because all cannot be good, as one
Knowing some women whores, dares marry none.
Graccus loves all as one, and thinks that so
As women do in divers countries go
In divers habits, yet are still one kind,
So doth, so is Religion; and this blind—
ness too much light breeds; but unmoved, thou
Of force must one, and forc’d, but one allow,
And the right; ask thy father which is she,
Let him ask his; though truth and falsehood be
Near twins, yet truth a little elder is;
Be busy to seek her; believe me this,
He’s not of none, nor worst, that seeks the best.
To adore, or scorn an image, or protest,
May all be bad; doubt wisely; in strange way
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray;
To sleep, or run wrong, is. On a huge hill,
Cragged 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.
Yet strive so that before age, death’s twilight,
Thy soul rest, for none can work in that night.
To will implies delay, therefore now do;
Hard deeds, the body’s pains; hard knowledge too
The mind’s endeavours reach, and mysteries
Are like the sun, dazzling, yet plain to all eyes.
Keep the truth which thou hast found; men do not stand
In so ill case, that God hath with his hand
Sign’d kings’ blank charters to kill whom they hate;
Nor are they vicars, but hangmen to fate.
Fool and wretch, wilt thou let thy soul be tied
To man’s laws, by which she shall not be tried
At the last day? Oh, will it then boot thee
To say a Philip, or a Gregory,
A Harry, or a Martin, taught thee this?
Is not this excuse for mere contraries
Equally strong? Cannot both sides say so?
That thou mayest rightly obey power, her bounds know;
Those past, her nature and name is chang’d; to be
Then humble to her is idolatry.
As streams are, power is; those blest flowers that dwell
At the rough stream’s calm head, thrive and do well,
But having left their roots, and themselves given
To the stream’s tyrannous rage, alas, are driven
Through mills, and rocks, and woods, and at last, almost
Consum’d in going, in the sea are lost.
So perish souls, which more choose men’s unjust
Power from God claim’d, than God himself to trust.

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 feign’d deaths to die.

Yesternight the sun went hence,
         And yet is here today;
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 turn’d aside to sleep;
They who one another keep
         Alive, ne’er parted be.

1

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
         Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
         And do run still, though still I do deplore?
                When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
                        For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
         Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
         A year or two, but wallow’d in, a score?
                When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
                        For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
         My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
         Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
                And, having done that, thou hast done;
                        I fear no more.

Stand still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy.
         These three hours that we have spent,
         Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produc’d.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
         We do those shadows tread,
         And to brave clearness all things are reduc’d.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us, and our cares; but now 'tis not so.
That love has not attain’d the high’st degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
         As the first were made to blind
         Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westwardly decline,
         To me thou, falsely, thine,
         And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day;
But oh, love’s day is short, if love decay.
Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his first minute, after noon, is night.

So, so breake off this last lamenting kisse,
    Which sucks two soules, and vapours Both away,
Turne thou ghost that way, and let mee turne this,
    And let our selves benight our happiest day,
We ask’d none leave to love; nor will we owe
    Any, so cheape a death, as saying, Goe;

Goe; and if that word have not quite kil’d thee,  
    Ease mee with death, by bidding mee goe too.
Oh, if it have, let my word worke on mee,
    And a just office on a murderer doe.
Except it be too late, to kill me so,
    Being double dead, going, and bidding, goe.

Let me pour forth
My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here,
For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,
And by this mintage they are something worth,
         For thus they be
         Pregnant of thee;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more,
When a tear falls, that thou falls which it bore,
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a diverse shore.

         On a round ball
A workman that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all;
         So doth each tear
         Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mix’d with mine do overflow
This world; by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolved so.

         O more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere,
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea what it may do too soon;
         Let not the wind
         Example find,
To do me more harm than it purposeth;
Since thou and I sigh one another’s breath,
Whoe’er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other’s death.

I can love both fair and brown,
Her whom abundance melts, and her whom want betrays,
Her who loves loneness best, and her who masks and plays,
Her whom the country formed, and whom the town,
Her who believes, and her who tries,
Her who still weeps with spongy eyes,
And her who is dry cork, and never cries;
I can love her, and her, and you, and you,
I can love any, so she be not true.

Will no other vice content you?
Will it not serve your turn to do as did your mothers?
Or have you all old vices spent, and now would find out others?
Or doth a fear that men are true torment you?
O we are not, be not you so;
Let me, and do you, twenty know.
Rob me, but bind me not, and let me go.
Must I, who came to travail thorough you,
Grow your fixed subject, because you are true?

Venus heard me sigh this song,
And by love’s sweetest part, variety, she swore,
She heard not this till now; and that it should be so no more.
She went, examined, and returned ere long,
And said, Alas! some two or three
Poor heretics in love there be,
Which think to ’stablish dangerous constancy.
But I have told them, Since you will be true,
You shall be true to them who are false to you.

Since she whom I lov’d hath paid her last debt
To nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,
And her soul early into heaven ravished,
Wholly in heavenly things my mind is set.
Here the admiring her my mind did whet
To seek thee, God; so streams do show the head;
But though I have found thee, and thou my thirst hast fed,
A holy thirsty dropsy melts me yet.
But why should I beg more love, whenas thou
Dost woo my soul, for hers off’ring all thine,
And dost not only fear lest I allow
My love to saints and angels, things divine,
But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt
Lest the world, flesh, yea devil put thee out.

1