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DONNE, John


The Canonization


or God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love,

Or chide my palsy, or my gout,

My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout,

With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,

Take you a course, get you a place,

Observe his honor, or his grace,

Or the king's real, or his stampèd face

Contemplate; what you will, approve,

So you will let me love.


Alas, alas, who's injured by my love?

What merchant's ships have my sighs drowned?

Who says my tears have overflowed his ground?

When did my colds a forward spring remove?

When did the heats which my veins fill

Add one more to the plaguy bill?

Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still

Litigious men, which quarrels move,

Though she and I do love.


Call us what you will, we are made such by love;

Call her one, me another fly,

We're tapers too, and at our own cost die,

And we in us find the eagle and the dove.

The phœnix riddle hath more wit

By us; we two being one, are it.

So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit.

We die and rise the same, and prove

Mysterious by this love.


We can die by it, if not live by love,

And if unfit for tombs and hearse

Our legend be, it will be fit for verse;

And if no piece of chronicle we prove,

We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms;

As well a well-wrought urn becomes

The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,

And by these hymns, all shall approve

Us canonized for Love.


And thus invoke us: "You, whom reverend love

Made one another's hermitage;

You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;

Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove

Into the glasses of your eyes

(So made such mirrors, and such spies,

That they did all to you epitomize)

Countries, towns, courts: beg from above

A pattern of your love!"


The Good-Morrow


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 other, 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.


The Flea


Mark but this flea, and mark in this,

How little that which thou deniest me is;

It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;

Thou know’st that this cannot be said

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,

Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do.


Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, nay more than married are.

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;

Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,

And cloistered in these living walls of jet.

Though use make you apt to kill me,

Let not to that, self-murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.


Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?

Wherein could this flea guilty be,

Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?

Yet thou triumph’st, and say'st that thou

Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;

’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:

Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.


Death do not be proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called 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 but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
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.


Go and catch a falling star

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,

And find

What wind

Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st 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,

And swear,

No where

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,

Yet she

Will be

False, ere I come, to two, or three.


A Hymn To God The Father

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.


Air and Angels

Twice or thrice had I lov'd thee,

Before I knew thy face or name;

So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame

Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be;

Still when, to where thou wert, I came,

Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.

But since my soul, whose child love is,

Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,

More subtle than the parent is

Love must not be, but take a body too;

And therefore what thou wert, and who,

I bid Love ask, and now

That it assume thy body, I allow,

And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,

And so more steadily to have gone,

With wares which would sink admiration,

I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught;

Ev'ry thy hair for love to work upon

Is much too much, some fitter must be sought;

For, nor in nothing, nor in things

Extreme, and scatt'ring bright, can love inhere;

Then, as an angel, face, and wings

Of air, not pure as it, yet pure, doth wear,

So thy love may be my love's sphere;

Just such disparity

As is 'twixt air and angels' purity,

'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.


A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
'The breath goes now,' and some say, 'No:'

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refin'd,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begun.


Elegy XX To his mistress going to bed

Come, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;

Until I labour, I in labour lie.

The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,

Is tired with standing, though he never fight.

Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,

But a far fairer world encompassing.

Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,

That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.

Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime

Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.

Off with that happy busk, which I envy,

That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.

Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,

As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.

Off with your wiry coronet, and show

The hairy diadems which on you do grow.

Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread

In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.

In such white robes heaven's angels used to be

Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee

A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though

Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know

By this these angels from an evil sprite ;

Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

Licence my roving hands, and let them go

Before, behind, between, above, below.

O, my America, my Newfoundland,

My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,

My mine of precious stones, my empery ;

How am I blest in thus discovering thee !

To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;

Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.

Full nakedness !  All joys are due to thee ;

As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be

To taste whole joys.   Gems which you women use

Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;

That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,

His earthly soul might court that, not them.

Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made

For laymen, are all women thus array'd.

Themselves are only mystic books, which we

–Whom their imputed grace will dignify –

Must see reveal'd.   Then, since that I may know,

As liberally as to thy 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 then,

What needst thou have more covering than a man?