John Donne: Selected poems


     I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
     Did, till we lov'd? were we not wean'd till then?
     But suck'd on countrey pleasures, childishly?
     Or snorted we in the seaven sleepers den?
     T'was so; But this, all pleasures fancies bee.
     If ever any beauty I did see,
     Which I desir'd, and got, t'was but a dreame of thee.

     And now good morrow to our waking soules,
     Which watch not one another out of feare;
     For love, all love of other sights controules,
     And makes one little roome, an every where.
     Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
     Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have showne,
     Let us possesse one world, each hath one, and is one.

     My face is thine eye, thine in mine appeares,
     And true plaine hearts doe in the faces rest,
     Where can we finde two better hemispheares
     Without sharpe North, without declining West?
     What ever dyes, was not mixt equally;
     If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
     Love so alike, that none doe 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,
      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.


             Busy old foole, unruly Sunne,
             Why dost thou thus
     Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us?
     Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
             Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
             Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
         Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
         Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
     Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,
     Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.

             Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
             Why shouldst thou thinke?
     I could eclipse and cloud them-with a winke,
     But that I would not lose her sight so long:
             If her eyes have not blinded thine,
             Looke, and to morrow late, tell mee,
         Whether both the'India's of spice and Myne
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
     Aske for those Kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
     And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.

             She'is all States, and all Princes, I,
             Nothing else is.
     Princes doe but play us; compar'd to this,
     All honor's mimique; All wealth alchimie.
             Thou sunne art halfe as happy'as wee,
             In that the world's contracted thus;
         Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
         To warme the world, that's done in warming us.
     Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
     This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.


     For Godsake hold your tongue, and let me love,
         Or chide my palsie, or my gout,
     My five gray haires, or ruin'd fortune flout,
         With wealth your state, your minde with Arts improve,
             Take you a course, get you a place,
             Observe his honour, or his grace,
     Or the Kings reall, or his stamped face
         Contemplate, what you will, approve,
         So you will let me love.

     Alas, alas, who's injur'd by my love?
         What merchants ships have my sighs drown'd?
     Who saies my teares have overflow'd his ground?
         When did my colds a forward spring remove?
             When did the heats which my veines fill
             Adde one more to the plaguie Bill?
     Soldiers finde warres, and Lawyers finde out still
         Litigious men, which quarrels move,
         Though she and I do love.

     Call us what you will, wee are made such by love;
         Call her one, mee another flye,
     We'are Tapers too, and at our owne cost die,
         And wee in us finde the'Eagle and the Dove.
             The Phoenix ridle hath more wit
             By us, we two being one, are it.
     So to one neutrall thing both sexes fit,
         Wee dye and rise the same, and prove
         Mysterious by this love.

     Wee can dye by it, if not live by love,
         And if unfit for tombes and hearse
     Our legend bee, it will be fit for verse;
         And if no peece of Chronicle wee prove,
             We'll build in sonnets pretty roomes;
             As well a well wrought urne becomes
     The greatest ashes, as halfe-acre tombes.
         And by these hymnes, all Shall approve
        Us Canoniz'd for Love:

     And thus invoke us; You whom reverend love
         Made one anothers hermitage;
     You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;
         Who did the whole worlds soule contract, and drove
             Into the glasses of your eyes
             (So made such mirrors, and such spies,
     That they did all to you epitomize,)
         Countries, Townes, Courts: Beg from above
         A patterne of your love!


     Mark but this flea, and marke in this,
     How little that which thou deny'st me is;
     It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
     And in this flea, our two bloods mingled bee;
     Thou know'st that this cannot be said
     A sinne, nor shame, nor losse of maidenhead,
         Yet this enjoyes before it wooe,
         And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two,
         And this, alas, is more than wee would doe.

     Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
     Where wee almost, yea more than maryed are.
     This flea is you and I, and this
     Our mariage bed, and mariage temple is
     Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
     And cloysterd in these living walls of Jet.
         Though use make you apt to kill mee,
         Let not to that, selfe murder added bee,
         And sacrilege, three sinnes in killing three.

     Cruell and sodaine, hast thou since
     Purpled thy naile, in blood of innocence?
     Wherein could this flea guilty bee,
     Except in that drop which it suckt from thee?
     Yet thou triumph'st, and saist that thou
     Find'st not thy selfe, nor mee the weaker now;
         'Tis true, then learne how false, feares bee;
         Just so much honor, when thou yeeld'st to mee,
     Will wast, as this flea's death tooke life from thee.


     Where, like a pillow on a bed,
         A Pregnant banke swel'd up, to rest
     The violets reclining head,
         Sat we two, one anothers best.
     Our hands were firmely cimented
         With a fast balme, which thence did spring,
     Our eye-beames twisted, and did thred
         Our eyes, upon one double string;
     So to'entergraft our hands, as yet
         Was all the meanes to make us one,
     And pictures in our eyes to get
         Was all our propagation.
     As 'twixt two equall Armies, Fate
         Suspends uncertaine victorie,
     Our soules, (which to advance their state,
         Were gone out,) hung'twixt her, and mee.
     And whil'st our soules negotiate there,
         Wee like sepulchrall statues lay;
     All day, the same our postures were,
         And wee said nothing, all the day.
     If any, so by love refin'd,
         That he soules language understood,
     And by good love were growen all minde,
         Within convenient distance stood,
     He (though he knew not which soul spake,
         Because both meant, both spake the same)
     Might thence a new concoction take,
         And part farre purer than he came.
     This Extasie doth unperplex
         (We said) and tell us what we love,
     Wee see by this, it was not sexe,
         Wee see, we saw not what did move:
     But as all severall soules containe
         Mixture of things, they know not what,
     Love, these mixt soules, doth mixe againe,
         And makes both one, each this and that.
     A single violet transplant,
         The strength, the colour, and the size,
     (All which before was poore, and scant,)
         Redoubles still, and multiplies.
     When love, with one another so
         Interinanimates two soules,
     That abler soule, which thence doth flow,
         Defects of lonelinesse controules.
     Wee then, who are this new soule, know,
         Of what we are compos'd, and made,
     For, th'Atomies of which we grow,
         Are soules, whom no change can invade.
     But O alas, so long, so farre
         Our bodies why doe wee forbeare?
     They are ours, though they are not wee, Wee are
         The intelligences, they the spheares.
     We owe them thankes, because they thus,
         Did us, to us, at first convay,
     Yeelded their forces, sense, to us,
         Nor are drosse to us, but allay.
     On man heavens influence workes not so,
         But that it first imprints the ayre,
     Soe soule into the soule may flow,
         Though it to body first repaire.
     As our blood labours to beget
         Spirits, as like soules as it can,
     Because such fingers need to knit
         That subtile knot, which makes us man:
     So must pure lovers soules descend
         T'affections, and to faculties,
     Which sense may reach and apprehend,
         Else a great Prince in prison lies.
     To'our bodies turne wee then, that so
         Weake men on love reveal'd may looke;
     Loves mysteries in soules doe grow,
         But yet the body is his booke.
     And if some lover, such as wee,
         Have heard this dialogue of one,
     Let him still marke us, he shall see
         Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.

 "Batter My Heart,  Three-Person'd God"

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.