Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 10-11.
1Oh, let me not serve so, as those men serve,
2Whom honour's smokes at once fatten and starve,
3Poorly enrich't with great men's words or looks ;
4Nor so write my name in thy loving books
5As those idolatrous flatterers, which still
6Their princes' style with many realms fulfill,
7Whence they no tribute have, and where no sway.
8Such services I offer as shall pay
9Themselves; I hate dead names. O, then let me
10Favourite in ordinary, or no favourite be.
11When my soul was in her own body sheath'd,
12Nor yet by oaths betroth'd, nor kisses breath'd
13Into my purgatory, faithless thee,
14Thy heart seem'd wax, and steel thy constancy.
15So, careless flowers strow'd on the water's face
16The curled whirlpools suck, smack, and embrace,
17Yet drown them; so the taper's beamy eye
18Amorously twinkling beckons the giddy fly,
19Yet burns his wings ; and such the devil is,
20Scarce visiting them who are entirely his.
21When I behold a stream, which from the spring
22Doth with doubtful melodious murmuring,
23Or in a speechless slumber, calmly ride
24Her wedded channel's bosom, and there chide,
25And bend her brows, and swell, if any bough
26Do but stoop down to kiss her upmost brow ;
27Yet, if her often gnawing kisses win
28The traitorous banks to gape, and let her in,
29She rusheth violently, and doth divorce
30Her from her native and her long-kept course,
31And roars, and braves it, and in gallant scorn,
32In flattering eddies promising return,
33She flouts her channel, which thenceforth is dry ;
34Then say I: "That is she, and this am I."
35Yet let not thy deep bitterness beget
36Careless despair in me, for that will whet
37My mind to scorn ; and O, love dull'd with pain
38Was ne'er so wise, nor well arm'd, as disdain.
39Then with new eyes I shall survey thee, and spy
40Death in thy cheeks, and darkness in thine eye,
41Though hope bred faith and love ; thus taught, I shall,
42As nations do from Rome, from thy love fall ;
43My hate shall outgrow thine, and utterly
44I will renounce thy dalliance ; and when I
45Am the recusant, in that resolute state
46What hurts it me to be excommunicate?
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh