Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 19-20.
1Marry, and love thy Flavia, for she
2Hath all things, whereby others beauteous be;
3For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great;
4Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet;
5Though they be dim, yet she is light enough;
6And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is tough;
7What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair's red,
8Give her thine, and she hath a maidenhead.
9These things are beauty's elements; where these
10Meet in one, that one must, as perfect, please.
11If red and white, and each good quality
12Be in thy wench, ne'er ask where it doth lie.
13In buying things perfumed, we ask, if there
14Be musk and amber in it, but not where.
15Though all her parts be not in th' usual place,
16She hath yet an anagram of a good face.
17If we might put the letters but one way,
18In that lean dearth of words, what could we say?
19When by the gamut some musicians make
20A perfect song, others will undertake,
21By the same gamut changed, to equal it.
22Things simply good can never be unfit;
23She's fair as any, if all be like her;
24And if none be, then she is singular.
25All love is wonder; if we justly do
26Account her wonderful, why not lovely too?
27Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies;
28Choose this face, changed by no deformities.
29Women are all like angels; the fair be
30Like those which fell to worse; but such as she,
31Like to good angels, nothing can impair:
32'Tis less grief to be foul, than to have been fair.
33For one night's revels, silk and gold we choose,
34But, in long journeys, cloth and leather use.
35Beauty is barren oft; best husbands say,
36There is best land, where there is foulest way.
37Oh, what a sovereign plaster will she be,
38If thy past sins have taught thee jealousy!
39Here needs no spies, nor eunuchs; her commit
40Safe to thy foes, yea, to a marmoset.
41When Belgia's cities the round country drowns,
42That dirty foulness guards and arms the towns,
43So doth her face guard her; and so, for thee,
44Which forced by business, absent oft must be,
45She, whose face, like clouds, turns the day to night;
46Who, mightier than the sea, makes Moors seem white;
47Who, though seven years she in the stews had laid,
48A nunnery durst receive, and think a maid;
49And though in childbed's labour she did lie,
50Midwives would swear 'twere but a tympany;
51Whom, if she accuse herself, I credit less
52Than witches, which impossibles confess ;
53One like none, and liked of none, fittest were ;
54For things in fashion every man will wear.
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh