On His Mistress
Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 23-24.
1By our first strange and fatal interview,
2By all desires which thereof did ensue,
3By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
4Which my words masculine persuasive force
5Begot in thee, and by the memory
6Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten'd me,
7I calmly beg. But by thy father's wrath,
8By all pains, which want and divorcement hath,
9I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I
10And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,
11Here I unswear, and over-swear them thus;
12Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.
13Temper, O fair love, love's impetuous rage;
14Be my true mistress still, not my feign'd page.
15I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
16Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind
17Thirst to come back; O, if thou die before,
18My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
19Thy (else almighty) beauty cannot move
20Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
21Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness; thou hast read
22How roughly he in pieces shivered
23Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.
24Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have proved
25Dangers unurg'd; feed on this flattery,
26That absent lovers one in th' other be.
27Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change
28Thy body's habit, nor mind ; be not strange
29To thyself only. All will spy in thy face
30A blushing womanly discovering grace.
31Richly cloth'd apes are call'd apes, and as soon
32Eclipsed as bright, we call the moon the moon.
33Men of France, changeable chameleons,
34Spitals of diseases, shops of fashions,
35Love's fuellers, and the rightest company
36Of players, which upon the world's stage be,
37Will quickly know thee, and know thee; and alas
38Th' indifferent Italian, as we pass
39His warm land, well content to think thee page,
40Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,
41As Lot's fair guests were vexed. But none of these
42Nor spongy hydroptic Dutch shall thee displease,
43If thou stay here. O stay here, for, for thee
44England is only a worthy gallery,
45To walk in expectation, till from thence
46Our greatest king call thee to his presence.
47When I am gone, dream me some happiness ;
48Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess ;
49Nor praise, nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse
50Openly love's force, nor in bed fright thy nurse
51With midnight's startings, crying out, O, O,
52Nurse, O my love is slain; I saw him go
53O'er the white Alps alone; I saw him, I,
54Assailed, fight, taken, stabb'd, bleed, fall, and die.
55Augur me better chance, except dread Jove
56Think it enough for me to have had thy love.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh