Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 1-4.
1Not that in colour it was like thy hair,
2For armlets of that thou mayst let me wear;
3Nor that thy hand is oft embrac'd and kiss’d,
4For so it had that good which oft I miss’d;
5Not for that seely old morality,
6That as those links are tied our love should be;
7Nor for the luck sake; but the bitter cost.
8 Oh shall twelve righteous angels, which as yet
9No leaven of vile solder did admit,
10Nor yet by any fault have stray'd or gone
11From the first state of their creation,
12Angels, which heaven commanded to provide
13All things to me, and be my faithful guide,
14To gain new friends, t'appease great enemies,
15To comfort my soul, when I lie or rise;
16Shall these twelve innocents, by thy severe
17Sentence (dread judge) my sins great burden bear?
18Shall they be damn'd, and in the furnace thrown,
19And punished for offenses not their own?
20They save not me, they do not ease my pains
21When in that hell they are burnt and tied in chains.
22Were they but crowns of France, I cared not,
23For most of them their natural country rot
24I think possesses; they come here to use
25So lean, so pale, so lame, so ruinous.
26And howso’er French kings most Christian be,
27Their crowns are circumcis’d most Jewishly.
28Or were they Spanish stamps, still travailing,
29That are become as Catholic as their king,
30Those unlick’d bear-whelps, unfil’d pistolets,
31That, more then cannon-shot, avails or lets,
32Which, negligently left unrounded, look
33Like many-angled figures in the book
34Of some great conjurer, which would enforce
35Nature, as these do Justice, from her course;
36Which, as the could quickens head, feet, and heart,
37As streams, like veins, run through th’earths every part,
38Visit all countries, and have slyly made
39Gorgeous France ruin’d, ragged, and decay’d,
40Scotland, which knew no state, proud in one day,
41And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia.
42Or were it such gold as that where with all
43Almighty chemics from each mineral
44Having by subtle fire a soul out-pull’d
45Are dirtily and desperately gull’d;
46I would not spit to quench the fire they were in,
47For they are guilty for much heinous sin.
48But shall my harmless angels perish? Shall
49I lose my guard, my ease, my food, my all?
50Much hope, which they should nourish, will be dead,
51Much of my able youth, and lustihead
52Will vanish; if thou love, let them alone
53For thou wilt love me less when they are gone.
54 Oh be content, that some loud-squeaking crier,
55Well-pleas-d with one lean threadbare groat for hire,
56May like devil rore through every street,
57And gall the finders conscience if they meet.
58Or let me creep to some dread conjurer,
59Which with fantastic schemes fulfills much paper,
60Which hath divided heaven in tenements,
61And with whores, thieves and murderers stuffed his rents
62So full, that though he pass them all in sin,
63He leaves himself no room to enter in.
64And if, when all his art and time is spent,
65He say ‘twill ne’r be found; oh be content.
66Receive from him the doom ungrudgingly
67Because he is the mouth of destiny.
68 Thou sat’st (alas) the gold doth still remain
69Though it be chang’d, and put into a chain.
70So, in the first, fall’n Angels rest still
71Wisdom and knowledge, but ‘tis turn’d to ill;
72As these should do good works, and should provide
73Necessities, but now must nurse thy pride.
74And they are still bad angels, mine are none,
75For form gives being, and their form is gone.
76Pity these angels yet, their dignities
77Pass Virtues, Powers, and Principalities.
78 But thou art resolute; thy will be done.
79Yet with such anguish as her only son
80The mother in the hungry grave doth lay,
81Unto the fire these martyrs I betray.
82Good souls, for you give life to every thing,
83Good angels, for good messages you bring,
84Destin’d you might have been to such a one
85As would have lov’d and worship’d you alone,
86One which would suffer hunger, nakedness,
87Yea death, ere he would make your number less;
88But I am guilty of your sad decay,
89May your few fellows longer with me stay.
90 But oh, thou wretched finder, whom I hate
91So much that I’almost pity thy estate;
92Gold being the heaviest metal amongst all,
93May my most heavy curse upon thee fall.
94Here fetter’d, manacl’d, and hang’d in chains
95First may thou be, then chain’d to hellish pains;
96Or be with foreign gold brib’d to betray
97Thy country, and fail both of that and thy pay.
98May the next thing thou stoop’st to reach contain
99Poison, whose nimble fume rot thy moist brain,
100Or libels, or some interdicted thing,
101Which negligently kept thy ruin bring.
102Lust-bred diseases rot thee and dwell with thee
103Itchy desire and no ability.
104May all the hurt which ever God hath wrought,
105All misfortunes which all devils ever thought,
106Want after plenty, poor and gouty age,
107The plagues of travelers, love and marriage
108Afflict thee, and at thy life’s latest moment
109May thy swollen sins themselves to thee present.
110 But I forgive. Repent thou honest man.
111Gold is restorative; restore it then.
112Or if with it thou be loath to depart
113Because ‘tis cordial, would ‘twere at thy heart.
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh