The Curse

Original Text: 
Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 40-41.
1Whoever guesses, thinks, or dreams, he knows
2Who is my mistress, wither by this curse
3            His only, and only his purse
4            May some dull whore to love dispose,
5And then yield unto all that are his foes;
6    May he be scorn'd by one, whom all else scorn,
7    Forswear to others, what to her he hath sworn,
8    With fear of missing, shame of getting, torn:
9Madness his sorrow, gout his cramps, may he
10Make, by but thinking who hath made him such ;
11            And may he feel no touch
12            Of conscience, but of fame, and be
13Anguish'd, not that 'twas sin, but that 'twas she:
14    In early and long scarceness ,ay he rot,
15    For land which had been his, if he had not
16    Himself incestuously an heir begot:
17May he dream treason, and believe that he
18Meant to perform it, and confesses, and die,
19            And no record tell why:
20            His sons, which none of his may be,
21Inherit nothing but his infamy:
22    Or may he so long parasites have fed,
23    That he would fain be theirs whom he hath bred,
24    And at the last be circumcised for bread.
25The venom of all step-dames, gamesters' gall,
26What tyrants and their subjects interwish,
27            What plants, mine, beasts, fowl, fish,
28            Can contribute, all ill, which all
29Prophets or poets spake, and all which shall
30    Be annex'd in schedules unto this by me,
31    Fall on that man ; For if it be a she
32    Nature beforehand hath out-cursed me.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
Rhyme: 
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