Poems by John Donne

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

‘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 interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh, 

Compar’d 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 ruin’d me, and I am re-begot 

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 limbec, am the grave 

         Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood 

                Have we two wept, and so 

Drown’d 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 carcasses. 

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, 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.

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 refined, 

   That our selves 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 fixed foot, makes no show 

   To move, but doth, if the other do. 

And though it in the center 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.

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.

Break of Day

‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be? 

O wilt thou therefore rise from me? 

Why should we rise because ‘tis light? 

Did we lie down because ‘twas night? 

Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither, 

Should in despite of light keep us together. 

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye; 

If it could speak as well as spy, 

This were the worst that it could say, 

That being well I fain would stay, 

And that I loved my heart and honour so, 

That I would not from him, that had them, go. 

Must business thee from hence remove? 

Oh, that’s the worst disease of love, 

The poor, the foul, the false, love can 

Admit, but not the busied man. 

He which hath business, and makes love, doth do 

Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo. 

Elegy V: His Picture

Here take my picture; though I bid farewell 

Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell. 

‘Tis like me now, but I dead, ‘twill be more 

When we are shadows both, than ‘twas before. 

When weather-beaten I come back, my hand 

Perhaps with rude oars torn, or sun beams tann’d, 

My face and breast of haircloth, and my head 

With care’s rash sudden storms being o’erspread, 

My body’a sack of bones, broken within, 

And powder’s blue stains scatter’d on my skin; 

If rival fools tax thee to’have lov’d a man 

So foul and coarse as, oh, I may seem then, 

This shall say what I was, and thou shalt say, 

“Do his hurts reach me? doth my worth decay? 

Or do they reach his judging mind, that he 

Should now love less, what he did love to see? 

That which in him was fair and delicate, 

Was but the milk which in love’s childish state 

Did nurse it; who now is grown strong enough 

To feed on that, which to disus’d tastes seems tough.” 

Elegy VII: Nature’s lay idiot, I taught thee to love

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?

Elegy IX: The Autumnal

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace 

         As I have seen in one autumnal face. 

Young beauties force our love, and that’s a rape, 

         This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape. 

If ‘twere a shame to love, here ‘twere no shame; 

         Affection here takes reverence’s name. 

Were her first years the golden age? That’s true, 

         But now she’s gold oft tried and ever new. 

That was her torrid and inflaming time, 

         This is her tolerable tropic clime. 

Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence, 

         He in a fever wishes pestilence. 

Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were, 

         They were Love’s graves, for else he is no where. 

Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit 

         Vow’d to this trench, like an anachorit; 

And here till hers, which must be his death, come, 

         He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb. 

Here dwells he; though he sojourn ev’rywhere 

         In progress, yet his standing house is here: 

Here where still evening is, not noon nor night, 

         Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight. 

In all her words, unto all hearers fit, 

         You may at revels, you at council, sit. 

This is Love’s timber, youth his underwood; 

         There he, as wine in June, enrages blood, 

Which then comes seasonabliest when our taste 

         And appetite to other things is past. 

Xerxes’ strange Lydian love, the platan tree, 

         Was lov’d for age, none being so large as she, 

Or else because, being young, nature did bless 

         Her youth with age’s glory, barrenness. 

If we love things long sought, age is a thing 

         Which we are fifty years in compassing; 

If transitory things, which soon decay, 

         Age must be loveliest at the latest day. 

But name not winter faces, whose skin’s slack, 

         Lank as an unthrift’s purse, but a soul’s sack; 

Whose eyes seek light within, for all here’s shade; 

         Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made; 

Whose every tooth to a several place is gone, 

         To vex their souls at resurrection: 

Name not these living death’s-heads unto me, 

         For these, not ancient, but antique be. 

I hate extremes, yet I had rather stay 

         With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day. 

Since such love’s natural lation is, may still 

         My love descend, and journey down the hill, 

Not panting after growing beauties. So, 

         I shall ebb on with them who homeward go. 

Elegy 19: To his Mistress Going to Bed

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour 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 glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped 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 that wiry Coronet and shew
The hairy Diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be
Received by men; Thou Angel bringst 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 new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,
My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,
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 joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s 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 mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew
Thy self: 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.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 2

As due by many titles I resign
Myself to thee, O God. First I was made
By Thee; and for Thee, and when I was decay’d
Thy blood bought that, the which before was Thine.
I am Thy son, made with Thyself to shine,
Thy servant, whose pains Thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheep, Thine image, and—till I betray’d
Myself—a temple of Thy Spirit divine.
Why doth the devil then usurp on me?
Why doth he steal, nay ravish, that’s Thy right?
Except Thou rise and for Thine own work fight,
O! I shall soon despair, when I shall see
That Thou lovest mankind well, yet wilt not choose me,
And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.

Holy Sonnet IV: Oh my black soul!

Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned
By sickness, death’s herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which till death’s doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison,
But damned and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 6

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.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 7

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes
Shall behold God and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For if above all these my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace
When we are there; here on this lowly ground
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 9

If poisonous minerals, and if that tree
Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot be damn’d, alas, why should I be?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous?
And mercy being easy, and glorious
To God, in his stern wrath why threatens he?
But who am I, that dare dispute with thee,
O God? Oh, of thine only worthy blood
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown in it my sins’ black memory.
That thou remember them, some claim as debt;
I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 10

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.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 14

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.

Holy Sonnets: Divine Meditations 17

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.

Love's Growth

I scarce believe my love to be so pure
   As I had thought it was,
   Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make’ it more.
 
But if medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
With more, not only be no quintessence,
But mixed of all stuffs paining soul or sense,
And of the sun his working vigor borrow,
Love’s not so pure, and abstract, as they use
To say, which have no mistress but their muse,
But as all else, being elemented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.
 
And yet no greater, but more eminent,
   Love by the spring is grown;
   As, in the firmament,
Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
From love’s awakened root do bud out now.
 
If, as water stirred more circles be
Produced by one, love such additions take,
Those, like so many spheres, but one heaven make,
For they are all concentric unto thee;
And though each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in time of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
No winter shall abate the spring’s increase.

Song

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.

Song

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.

The Anniversary

All kings, and all their favourites,
All glory of honours, beauties, wits,
The sun it self, which makes time, as they pass,
Is elder by a year now than it was
When thou and I first one another saw.
All other things to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay;
This no to-morrow hath, nor yesterday;
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

Two graves must hide thine and my corse;
If one might, death were no divorce.
Alas! as well as other princes, we
—Who prince enough in one another be—
Must leave at last in death these eyes and ears,
Oft fed with true oaths, and with sweet salt tears;
But souls where nothing dwells but love
—All other thoughts being inmates—then shall prove
This or a love increasèd there above,
When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove.

And then we shall be throughly blest;
But now no more than all the rest.
Here upon earth we’re kings, and none but we
Can be such kings, nor of such subjects be.
Who is so safe as we? where none can do
Treason to us, except one of us two.
True and false fears let us refrain,
Let us love nobly, and live, and add again
Years and years unto years, till we attain
To write threescore; this is the second of our reign.

The Apparition

When by thy scorn, O murd’ress, I am dead
         And that thou think’st thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign’d vestal, in worse arms shall see;
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tir’d before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
         Thou call’st for more,
And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bath’d in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie
         A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee; and since my love is spent,
I’had rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threat’nings rest still innocent.

The Bait

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 than the sun;
And there the ‘enamour’d 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, be’st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark’nest both,
And if myself 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, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes’ wand’ring eyes.
 
For thee, thou need’st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait:
That fish, that is not catch’d thereby,
Alas, is wiser far than I.

The Canonisation

For 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 Dream

Dear love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream;
            It was a theme
For reason, much too strong for fantasy,
Therefore thou wak’d’st me wisely; yet
My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths, and fables histories;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best,
Not to dream all my dream, let’s act the rest.
 
   As lightning, or a taper’s light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak’d me;
            Yet I thought thee
(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;
But when I saw thou sawest my heart,
And knew’st my thoughts, beyond an angel’s art,
When thou knew’st what I dreamt, when thou knew’st when
Excess of joy would wake me, and cam’st then,
I must confess, it could not choose but be
Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.
 
   Coming and staying show’d thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
            Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear’s as strong as he;
‘Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;
Perchance as torches, which must ready be,
Men light and put out, so thou deal’st with me;
Thou cam’st to kindle, goest to come; then I
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.

The Ecstasy

Where, like a pillow on a bed
         A pregnant bank swell’d up to rest
The violet’s reclining head,
         Sat we two, one another’s best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
         With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
         Our eyes upon one double string;
So to’intergraft our hands, as yet
         Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
         Was all our propagation.
As ‘twixt two equal armies fate
         Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
         Were gone out) hung ‘twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
         We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
         And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin’d
         That he soul’s language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
         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 far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
         We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
         We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
         Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix’d souls doth mix again
         And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
         The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
         Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
         Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
         Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
         Of what we are compos’d and made,
For th’ atomies of which we grow
         Are souls, whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
         Our bodies why do we forbear?
They’are ours, though they’are not we; we are
         The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
         Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses’ force to us,
         Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven’s influence works not so,
         But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
            Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
         Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
         That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers’ souls descend
         T’ affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
         Else a great prince in prison lies.
To’our bodies turn we then, that so
         Weak men on love reveal’d may look;
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow,
         But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
         Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
         Small change, when we’are to bodies gone.

The Expiration


SO, so, I break off this last lamenting kiss,
Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away;
Turn, thou ghost, that way, and let me turn this,
And let ourselves benight our happiest day.
We ask none leave to love; nor will we owe 
Any so cheap a death as saying, “Go.”

Go; and if that word have not quite killed thee,
Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.
Or, if it have, let my word work on me,
And a just office on a murderer do. 
Except it be too late, to kill me so,
Being double dead, going, and bidding, “Go.”

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.

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 Relic

When my grave is broke up again
       Some second guest to entertain,
       (For graves have learn’d that woman head,
       To be to more than one a bed)
                And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,
                Will he not let’us alone,
And think that there a loving couple lies,
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their souls, at the last busy day,
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?
 
         If this fall in a time, or land,
         Where mis-devotion doth command,
         Then he, that digs us up, will bring
         Us to the bishop, and the king,
                To make us relics; then
Thou shalt be a Mary Magdalen, and I
                A something else thereby;
All women shall adore us, and some men;
And since at such time miracles are sought,
I would have that age by this paper taught
What miracles we harmless lovers wrought.
 
         First, we lov’d well and faithfully,
         Yet knew not what we lov’d, nor why;
         Difference of sex no more we knew
         Than our guardian angels do;
                Coming and going, we
Perchance might kiss, but not between those meals;
                Our hands ne’er touch’d the seals
Which nature, injur’d by late law, sets free;
These miracles we did, but now alas,
All measure, and all language, I should pass,
Should I tell what a miracle she was.

The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
 
               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
 
               She’s all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world’s contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.

The Undertaking

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 to impart
The skill of specular stone,
When he, which can have learn’d 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 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.

 

Twicknam Garden

BLASTED with sighs, and surrounded with tears,
    Hither I come to seek the spring,
And at mine eyes, and at mine ears,
    Receive such balms as else cure every thing.
    But O ! self-traitor, I do bring
The spider Love, which transubstantiates all,
And can convert manna to gall ;
And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent brought.

‘Twere wholesomer for me that winter did
    Benight the glory of this place,
And that a grave frost did forbid
    These trees to laugh and mock me to my face ;
    But that I may not this disgrace
Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
Some senseless piece of this place be ;
Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.

Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
    And take my tears, which are love’s wine,
And try your mistress’ tears at home,
    For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
    Alas ! hearts do not in eyes shine,
Nor can you more judge women’s thoughts by tears,
Than by her shadow what she wears.
O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who’s therefore true, because her truth kills me.