Donne, John. The Elegies and the Songs and Sonnets of John Donne. Edited by Helen Gardner. London: Oxford University Press, 1965: 54-55.
1 Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
2 Great Love, some legacies; I here bequeath
3 Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see,
4 If they be blind, then Love, I give them thee;
5 My tongue to Fame; to ambassadors mine ears;
6 To women or the sea, my tears.
7 Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore
8 By making me serve her who had twenty more,
9That I should give to none, but such, as had too much before.
10 My constancy I to the planets give;
11 My truth to them who at the court do live;
12 My ingenuity and openness,
13 To Jesuits; to buffoons my pensiveness;
14 My silence to any, who abroad hath been;
15 My money to a Capuchin.
16 Thou Love taught'st me, by appointing me
17 To love there, where no love received can be,
18Only to give to such as have an incapacity.
19 My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
20 All my good works unto the Schismatics
21 Of Amsterdam; my best civility
22 And courtship to an University;
23 My modesty I give to soldiers bare;
24 My patience let gamesters share.
25 Thou Love taught'st me, by making me
26 Love her that holds my love disparity,
27Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.
28 I give my reputation to those
29 Which were my friends; mine industry to foes;
30 To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness;
31 My sickness to physicians, or excess;
32 To nature all that I in rhyme have writ;
33 And to my company my wit.
34 Thou Love, by making me adore
35 Her, who begot this love in me before,
36Taught'st me to make, as though I gave, when I do but restore.
37 To him for whom the passing-bell next tolls,
38 I give my physic books; my written rolls
39 Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give;
40 My brazen medals unto them which live
41 In want of bread; to them which pass among
42 All foreigners, mine English tongue.
43 Though, Love, by making me love one
44 Who thinks her friendship a fit portion
45For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.
46 Therefore I'll give no more; but I'll undo
47 The world by dying; because love dies too.
48 Then all your beauties will be no more worth
49 Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth;
50 And all your graces no more use shall have,
51 Than a sun-dial in a grave :
52 Thou Love taught'st me by making me
53 Love her, who doth neglect both me and thee,
54To invent, and practice this one way, to annihilate all three.
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh