Farewell to Love
Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 82-83.
1 Whilst yet to prove
2I thought there was some deity in love,
3 So did I reverence, and gave
4Worship, as atheists at their dying hour
5Call, what they cannot name, an unknown power,
6 As ignorantly did I crave:
7 Thus when
8Things not yet known are coveted by men,
9 Our desires give them fashion, and so
10As they wax lesser, fall, as they size, grow.
11 But, from late fair,
12His highness sitting in a golden chair,
13 Is not less cared for after three days
14By children, than the thing which lovers so
15Blindly admire, and with such worship woo;
16 Being had, enjoying it decays;
17 And thence,
18What before pleased them all, takes but one sense,
19And that so lamely, as it leaves behind
20A kind of sorrowing dullness to the mind.
21 Ah cannot we,
22As well as cocks and lions, jocund be
23 After such pleasures, unless wise
24Nature decreed (since each such act, they say,
25Diminisheth the length of life a day)
26 This; as she would man should despise
27 The sport,
28Because that other curse of being short,
29 And only for a minute made to be
30Eager, desires to raise posterity.
31 Since so, my mind
32Shall not desire what no man else can find,
33 I'll no more dote and run
34To pursue things which had endamaged me.
35And when I come where moving beauties be,
36 As men do when the summer's sun
37 Grows great,
38Though I admire their greatness, shun their heat;
39 Each place can afford shadows. If all fail,
40'Tis but applying worm-seed to the tail.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh