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This HTML e-text of John Donne's "Epigrams" was created in October 2001 by Anniina Jokinen of Luminarium. The unaltered text is from The Muses' Library edition, edited by E. K. Chambers, 1896. Chambers' text is based on the 1633, 1635, 1650 and 1669 editions of Donne's Poems— the current editor has omitted the variorum and notes, for which the reader is encouraged to see the source text, or any of the excellent modern works on the subject.
    Source text:
    Donne, John. "Elegies." Poems of John Donne. Vol I.
    E. K. Chambers, Editor. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 102-150.
This edition is made available to the public for nonprofit purposes only. It is not represented by the publisher as a scholarly edition in the peer-reviewed sense. Unique site content is copyright 2001 Anniina Jokinen. This e-text may not be reproduced or published in any form without express written consent from the copyright holder. For corrections, comments, and queries, please email the publisher.








Donne portrait




ELEGY I.

JEALOUSY.

FOND woman, which wouldst have thy husband die,
And yet complain'st of his great jealousy ;
If, swollen with poison, he lay in his last bed,
His body with a sere bark covered,
Drawing his breath as thick and short as can
The nimblest crocheting musician,
Ready with loathsome vomiting to spew
His soul out of one hell into a new,
Made deaf with his poor kindred's howling cries,
Begging with few feign'd tears great legacies,—
Thou wouldst not weep, but jolly, and frolic be,
As a slave, which to-morrow should be free.
Yet weep'st thou, when thou seest him hungerly
Swallow his own death, heart's-bane jealousy?
O give him many thanks, he's courteous,
That in suspecting kindly warneth us.
We must not, as we used, flout openly,
In scoffing riddles, his deformity ;
Nor at his board together being sat,
With words, nor touch, scarce looks, adulterate.
Nor when he, swollen and pamper'd with great fare,
Sits down and snorts, caged in his basket chair,
Must we usurp his own bed any more,
Nor kiss and play in his house, as before.
Now I see many dangers ; for it is
His realm, his castle, and his diocese.
But if—as envious men, which would revile
Their prince, or coin his gold, themselves exile
Into another country, and do it there—
We play in another house, what should we fear?
There we will scorn his household policies,
His silly plots, and pensionary spies,
As the inhabitants of Thames' right side
Do London's mayor, or Germans the Pope's pride.


ELEGY II.

THE ANAGRAM.

MARRY, and love thy Flavia, for she
Hath all things, whereby others beauteous be ;
For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great ;
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet ;
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough ;
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is tough ;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair's red,
Give her thine, and she hath a maidenhead.
These things are beauty's elements ; where these
Meet in one, that one must, as perfect, please.
If red and white, and each good quality
Be in thy wench, ne'er ask where it doth lie.
In buying things perfumed, we ask, if there
Be musk and amber in it, but not where.
Though all her parts be not in th' usual place,
She hath yet an anagram of a good face.
If we might put the letters but one way,
In that lean dearth of words, what could we say?
When by the gamut some musicians make
A perfect song, others will undertake,
By the same gamut changed, to equal it.
Things simply good can never be unfit ;
She's fair as any, if all be like her ;
And if none be, then she is singular.
All love is wonder ; if we justly do
Account her wonderful, why not lovely too?
Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies ;
Choose this face, changed by no deformities.
Women are all like angels ; the fair be
Like those which fell to worse ; but such as she,
Like to good angels, nothing can impair :
'Tis less grief to be foul, than to have been fair.
For one night's revels, silk and gold we choose,
But, in long journeys, cloth and leather use.
Beauty is barren oft ; best husbands say,
There is best land, where there is foulest way.
Oh, what a sovereign plaster will she be,
If thy past sins have taught thee jealousy!
Here needs no spies, nor eunuchs ; her commit
Safe to thy foes, yea, to a marmoset.
When Belgia's cities the round country drowns,
That dirty foulness guards and arms the towns,
So doth her face guard her ; and so, for thee,
Which forced by business, absent oft must be,
She, whose face, like clouds, turns the day to night ;
Who, mightier than the sea, makes Moors seem white ;
Who, though seven years she in the stews had laid,
A nunnery durst receive, and think a maid ;
And though in childbed's labour she did lie,
Midwives would swear 'twere but a tympany ;
Whom, if she accuse herself, I credit less
Than witches, which impossibles confess ;
One like none, and liked of none, fittest were ;
For things in fashion every man will wear.


ELEGY III.

CHANGE.

ALTHOUGH thy hand and faith, and good works too,
Have sealed thy love which nothing should undo,
Yea, though thou fall back, that apostasy
Confirm thy love, yet much, much I fear thee.
Women are like the arts, forced unto none,
Open to all searchers, unprized, if unknown.
If I have caught a bird, and let him fly,
Another fowler using these means, as I,
May catch the same bird ; and, as these things be,
Women are made for men, not him nor me.
Foxes, and goats—all beasts—change when they please.
Shall women, more hot, wily, wild than these,
Be bound to one man, and did nature then
Idly make them apter to endure than men?
They're our clogs, not their own ; if a man be
Chain'd to a galley, yet the galley's free.
Who hath a plough-land, casts all his seed corn there,
And yet allows his ground more corn should bear ;
Though Danuby into the sea must flow,
The sea receives the Rhine, Volga, and Po.
By nature, which gave it, this liberty
Thou lovest, but O ! canst thou love it and me?
Likeness glues love ; and if that thou so do,
To make us like and love, must I change too?
More than thy hate, I hate it ; rather let me
Allow her change, then change as oft as she,
And so not teach, but force my opinion,
To love not any one, nor every one.
To live in one land is captivity,
To run all countries a wild roguery.
Waters stink soon, if in one place they bide,
And in the vast sea are more putrified ;
But when they kiss one bank, and leaving this
Never look back, but the next bank do kiss,
Then are they purest ; change is the nursery
Of music, joy, life and eternity.


ELEGY IV.

THE PERFUME.

ONCE, and but once, found in thy company,
All thy supposed escapes are laid on me ;
And as a thief at bar is question'd there
By all the men that have been robb'd that year,
So am I—by this traiterous means surprized—
By thy hydroptic father catechized.
Though he had wont to search with glazèd eyes,
As though he came to kill a cockatrice ;
Though he hath oft sworn that he would remove
Thy beauty's beauty, and food of our love,
Hope of his goods, if I with thee were seen,
Yet close and secret, as our souls, we've been.
Though thy immortal mother, which doth lie
Still buried in her bed, yet will not die,
Takes this advantage to sleep out daylight,
And watch thy entries and returns all night ;
And, when she takes thy hand, and would seem kind,
Doth search what rings and armlets she can find ;
And kissing notes the colour of thy face ;
And fearing lest thou'rt swollen, doth thee embrace ;
To try if thou long, doth name strange meats ;
And notes thy paleness, blushing, sighs, and sweats ;
And politicly will to thee confess
The sins of her own youth's rank lustiness ;
Yet love these sorceries did remove, and move
Thee to gull thine own mother for my love.
Thy little brethren, which like fairy sprites
Oft skipp'd into our chamber, those sweet nights,
And kiss'd, and ingled on thy father's knee,
Were bribed next day to tell what they did see ;
The grim-eight-foot-high-iron-bound serving-man,
That oft names God in oaths, and only then,
He that, to bar the first gate, doth as wide
As the great Rhodian Colossus stride
—Which, if in hell no other pains there were,
Makes me fear hell, because he must be there—
Though by thy father he were hired to this,
Could never witness any touch or kiss.
But O ! too common ill, I brought with me
That, which betray'd me to mine enemy,
A loud perfume, which at my entrance cried
Even at thy father's nose ; so were we spied.
When, like a tyrant King, that in his bed
Smelt gunpowder, the pale wretch shivered,
Had it been some bad smell, he would have thought
That his own feet, or breath, that smell had wrought ;
But as we in our isle imprisoned,
Where cattle only and diverse dogs are bred,
The precious unicorns strange monsters call,
So thought he good strange, that had none at all.
I taught my silks their whistling to forbear ;
Even my oppress'd shoes dumb and speechless were ;
Only thou bitter sweet, whom I had laid
Next me, me traiterously hast betray'd,
And unsuspected hast invisibly
At once fled unto him, and stay'd with me.
Base excrement of earth, which dost confound
Sense from distinguishing the sick from sound !
By thee the silly amorous sucks his death
By drawing in a leprous harlot's breath ;
By thee the greatest stain to man's estate
Falls on us, to be call'd effeminate ;
Though you be much loved in the prince's hall,
There things that seem exceed substantial ;
Gods, when ye fumed on altars, were pleased well,
Because you were burnt, not that they liked your smell ;
You're loathsome all, being taken simply alone ;
Shall we love ill things join'd, and hate each one?
If you were good, your good doth soon decay ;
And you are rare ; that takes the good away :
All my perfumes I give most willingly
To embalm thy father's corpse ; what? will he die?


ELEGY V.

HIS PICTURE.

HERE take my picture ; though I bid farewell,
Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell.
'Tis like me now, but I dead, 'twill be more,
When we are shadows both, than 'twas before.
When weatherbeaten I come back ; my hand
Perhaps with rude oars torn, or sun-beams tann'd,
My face and breast of haircloth, and my head
With care's harsh sudden hoariness o'erspread,
My body a sack of bones, broken within,
And powder's blue stains scatter'd on my skin ;
If rival fools tax thee to have loved a man,
So foul and coarse, as, O ! I may seem then,
This shall say what I was ; and thou shalt say,
" Do his hurts reach me? doth my worth decay?
Or do they reach his judging mind, that he
Should now love less, what he did love to see?
That which in him was fair and delicate,
Was but the milk, which in love's childish state
Did nurse it ; who now is grown strong enough
To feed on that, which to weak tastes seems tough."


ELEGY VI.

O, LET me not serve so, as those men serve,
Whom honour's smokes at once fatten and starve,
Poorly enrich'd with great men's words or looks ;
Nor so write my name in thy loving books
As those idolatrous flatterers, which still
Their princes' style with many realms fulfil,
Whence they no tribute have, and where no sway.
Such services I offer as shall pay
Themselves ; I hate dead names. O, then let me
Favourite in ordinary, or no favourite be.
When my soul was in her own body sheathed,
Nor yet by oaths betroth'd, nor kisses breathed
Into my purgatory, faithless thee,
Thy heart seemed wax, and steel thy constancy.
So, careless flowers strew'd on the water's face
The curled whirlpools suck, smack, and embrace,
Yet drown them ; so the taper's beamy eye
Amorously twinkling beckons the giddy fly,
Yet burns his wings ; and such the devil is,
Scarce visiting them who are entirely his.
When I behold a stream, which from the spring
Doth with doubtful melodious murmuring,
Or in a speechless slumber, calmly ride
Her wedded channel's bosom, and there chide,
And bend her brows, and swell, if any bough
Do but stoop down to kiss her upmost brow ;
Yet, if her often gnawing kisses win
The traitorous banks to gape, and let her in,
She rusheth violently, and doth divorce
Her from her native and her long-kept course,
And roars, and braves it, and in gallant scorn,
In flattering eddies promising return,
She flouts her channel, which thenceforth is dry ;
Then say I ; "That is she, and this am I."
Yet let not thy deep bitterness beget
Careless despair in me, for that will whet
My mind to scorn ; and O, love dull'd with pain
Was ne'er so wise, nor well arm'd, as disdain.
Then with new eyes I shall survey thee, and spy
Death in thy cheeks, and darkness in thine eye,
Though hope bred faith and love ; thus taught, I shall,
As nations do from Rome, from thy love fall ;
My hate shall outgrow thine, and utterly
I will renounce thy dalliance ; and when I
Am the recusant, in that resolute state
What hurts it me to be excommunicate?


ELEGY VII.

NATURE'S lay idiot, I taught thee to love,
And in that sophistry, O ! thou dost prove
Too subtle ; fool, thou didst not understand
The mystic language of the eye nor hand ;
Nor couldst thou judge the difference of the air
Of sighs, and say, "This lies, this sounds despair" ;
Nor by th' eye's water cast a malady
Desperately hot, or changing feverously.
I had not taught thee then the alphabet
Of flowers, how they, devisefully being set
And bound up, might with speechless secrecy
Deliver errands mutely, and mutually.
Remember since all thy words used to be
To every suitor, "Ay, if my friends agree ;"
Since household charms, thy husband's name to teach,
Were all the love-tricks that thy wit could reach ;
And since an hour's discourse could scarce have made
One answer in thee, and that ill array'd
In broken proverbs, and torn sentences.
Thou art not by so many duties his—
That from th' world's common having sever'd thee,
Inlaid thee, neither to be seen, nor see—
As mine ; who have with amorous delicacies
Refined thee into a blissful paradise.
Thy graces and good works my creatures be ;
I planted knowledge and life's tree in thee ;
Which O ! shall strangers taste? Must I, alas !
Frame and enamel plate, and drink in glass?
Chafe wax for other's seals? break a colt's force,
And leave him then, being made a ready horse?


ELEGY VIII.

THE COMPARISON.

AS the sweet sweat of roses in a still,
As that which from chafed musk cat's pores doth trill,
As the almighty balm of th' early east,
Such are the sweat drops of my mistress' breast ;
And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,
They seem no sweat drops, but pearl carcanets.
Rank sweaty froth thy mistress' brow defiles,
Like spermatic issue of ripe menstruous boils,
Or like the scum, which, by need's lawless law
Enforced, Sanserra's starvèd men did draw
From parboil'd shoes and boots, and all the rest
Which were with any sovereign fatness blest ;
And like vile lying stones in saffron'd tin,
Or warts, or wheals, it hangs upon her skin.
Round as the world's her head, on every side,
Like to the fatal ball which fell on Ide ;
Or that whereof God had such jealousy,
As for the ravishing thereof we die.
Thy head is like a rough-hewn statue of jet,
Where marks for eyes, nose, mouth, are yet scarce set ;
Like the first chaos, or flat seeming face
Of Cynthia, when th' earth's shadows her embrace.
Like Proserpine's white beauty-keeping chest,
Or Jove's best fortune's urn, is her fair breast.
Thine's like worm-eaten trunks, clothed in seal's skin,
Or grave, that's dust without, and stink within.
And like that slender stalk, at whose end stands
The woodbine quivering, are her arms and hands.
Like rough-bark'd elm-boughs, or the russet skin
Of men late scourged for madness, or for sin,
Like sun-parch'd quarters on the city gate,
Such is thy tann'd skin's lamentable state ;
And like a bunch of ragged carrots stand
The short swollen fingers of thy gouty hand.
Then like the chemic's masculine equal fire,
Which in the limbec's warm womb doth inspire
Into th' earth's worthless dirt a soul of gold,
Such cherishing heat her best loved part doth hold.
Thine's like the dread mouth of a fired gun,
Or like hot liquid metals newly run
Into clay moulds, or like to that Ætna,
Where round about the grass is burnt away.
Are not your kisses then as filthy, and more,
As a worm sucking an envenom'd sore?
Doth not thy fearful hand in feeling quake,
As one which gathering flowers still fears a snake?
Is not your last act harsh and violent,
As when a plough a stony ground doth rent?
So kiss good turtles, so devoutly nice
Are priests in handling reverent sacrifice,
And such in searching wounds the surgeon is,
As we, when we embrace, or touch, or kiss.
Leave her, and I will leave comparing thus,
She and comparisons are odious.


ELEGY IX.

THE AUTUMNAL.

NO spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face ;
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape ;
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame ;
Affections here take reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age ? that's true,
But now they're gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time ;
This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes ; who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves ; if graves they were,
They were Love's graves, for else he is nowhere.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit,
Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorite,
And here, till hers, which must be his death, come,
He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he ; though he sojourn everywhere,
In progress, yet his standing house is here ;
Here, where still evening is, not noon, nor night ;
Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight.
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
You may at revels, you at council, sit.
This is love's timber ; youth his underwood ;
There he, as wine in June, enrages blood ;
Which then comes seasonablest, when our taste
And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platane tree,
Was loved for age, none being so large as she ;
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
Her youth with age's glory, barrenness.
If we love things long sought, age is a thing
Which we are fifty years in compassing ;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack,
Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack ;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade ;
Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out, than made ;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
To vex their souls at resurrection ;
Name not these living death-heads unto me,
For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes ; yet I had rather stay
With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's motion natural is, may still
My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties ; so
I shall ebb out with them who homeward go.


ELEGY X.

THE DREAM.

IMAGE of her whom I love, more than she,
    Whose fair impression in my faithful heart
Makes me her medal, and makes her love me,
    As kings do coins, to which their stamps impart
The value ; go, and take my heart from hence,
    Which now is grown too great and good for me.
Honours oppress weak spirits, and our sense
    Strong objects dull ; the more, the less we see.
When you are gone, and reason gone with you,
    Then fantasy is queen and soul, and all ;
She can present joys meaner than you do,
    Convenient, and more proportional.
So, if I dream I have you, I have you,
    For all our joys are but fantastical ;
And so I 'scape the pain, for pain is true ;
    And sleep, which locks up sense, doth lock out all.
After a such fruition I shall wake,
    And, but the waking, nothing shall repent ;
And shall to love more thankful sonnets make,
    Than if more honour, tears, and pains were spent.
But, dearest heart and dearer image, stay ;
    Alas ! true joys at best are dream enough ;
Though you stay here, you pass too fast away,
    For even at first life's taper is a snuff.
Fill'd with her love, may I be rather grown
    Mad with much heart, than idiot with none.


ELEGY XI.

THE BRACELET.

UPON THE LOSS OF HIS MISTRESS' CHAIN, FOR
WHICH HE MADE SATISFACTION.


NOT that in colour it was like thy hair,
For armlets of that thou mayst let me wear ;
Nor that thy hand it oft embraced and kiss'd,
For so it had that good, which oft I miss'd ;
Nor for that silly old morality,
That, as these links were knit, our love should be,
Mourn I that I thy sevenfold chain have lost ;
Nor for the luck sake ; but the bitter cost.
O, shall twelve righteous angels, which as yet
No leaven of vile solder did admit ;
Nor yet by any way have stray'd or gone
From the first state of their creation ;
Angels, which heaven commanded to provide
All things to me, and be my faithful guide ;
To gain new friends, to appease great enemies ;
To comfort my soul, when I lie or rise ;
Shall these twelve innocents, by thy severe
Sentence, dread judge, my sin's great burden bear?
Shall they be damn'd, and in the furnace thrown,
And punish'd for offenses not their own?
They save not me, they do not ease my pains,
When in that hell they're burnt and tied in chains.
Were they but crowns of France, I carèd not,
For most of these their country's natural rot,
I think, possesseth ; they come here to us
So pale, so lame, so lean, so ruinous.
And howsoe'er French kings most Christian be,
Their crowns are circumcised most Jewishly.
Or were they Spanish stamps, still travelling,
That are become as Catholic as their king ;
These unlick'd bear-whelps, unfiled pistolets,
That—more than cannon shot—avails or lets ;
Which, negligently left unrounded, look
Like many-angled figures in the book
Of some great conjurer that would enforce
Nature, so these do justice, from her course ;
Which, as the soul quickens head, feet and heart,
As streams, like veins, run through th' earth's every part,
Visit all countries, and have slily made
Gorgeous France, ruin'd, ragged and decay'd,
Scotland, which knew no state, proud in one day,
And mangled seventeen-headed Belgia.
Or were it such gold as that wherewithal
Almighty chemics, from each mineral
Having by subtle fire a soul out-pull'd,
Are dirtily and desperately gull'd ;
I would not spit to quench the fire they're in,
For they are guilty of much heinous sin.
But shall my harmless angels perish? Shall
I lose my guard, my ease, my food, my all?
Much hope which they would nourish will be dead.
Much of my able youth, and lustihead
Will vanish ; if thou love, let them alone,
For thou wilt love me less when they are gone ;
And be content that some loud squeaking crier,
Well-pleas'd with one lean threadbare groat, for hire,
May like a devil roar through every street,
And gall the finder's conscience, if he meet.
Or let me creep to some dread conjurer,
That with fantastic schemes fills full much paper ;
Which hath divided heaven in tenements,
And with whores, thieves, and murderers stuff'd his rents
So full, that though he pass them all in sin,
He leaves himself no room to enter in.
But if, when all his art and time is spent,
He say 'twill ne'er be found ; yet be content ;
Receive from him that doom ungrudgingly,
Because he is the mouth of destiny.
Thou say'st, alas ! the gold doth still remain,
Though it be changed, and put into a chain.
So in the first fallen angels resteth still
Wisdom and knowledge, but 'tis turn'd to ill ;
As these should do good works, and should provide
Necessities ; but now must nurse thy pride.
And they are still bad angels ; mine are none ;
For form gives being, and their form is gone.
Pity these angels yet ; their dignities
Pass Virtues, Powers, and Principalities.
But thou art resolute ; thy will be done ;
Yet with such anguish, as her only son
The mother in the hungry grave doth lay,
Unto the fire these martyrs I betray.
Good souls—for you give life to everything—
Good angels—for good messages you bring—
Destined you might have been to such an one,
As would have loved and worshipp'd you alone ;
One that would suffer hunger, nakedness,
Yea death, ere he would make your number less ;
But, I am guilty of your sad decay ;
May your few fellows longer with me stay.
But O ! thou wretched finder whom I hate
So, that I almost pity thy estate,
Gold being the heaviest metal amongst all,
May my most heavy curse upon thee fall.
Here fetter'd, manacled, and hang'd in chains,
First mayst thou be ; then chain'd to hellish pains ;
Or be with foreign gold bribed to betray
Thy country, and fail both of it and thy pay.
May the next thing thou stoop'st to reach, contain
Poison, whose nimble fume rot thy moist brain ;
Or libels, or some interdicted thing,
Which negligently kept thy ruin bring.
Lust-bred diseases rot thee ; and dwell with thee
Itching desire, and no ability.
May all the evils that gold ever wrought ;
All mischief that all devils ever thought ;
Want after plenty, poor and gouty age,
The plagues of travellers, love, marriage
Afflict thee, and at thy life's last moment,
May thy swollen sins themselves to thee present.
    But, I forgive ; repent thee, honest man !
Gold is restorative ; restore it then :
But if from it thou be'st loth to depart,
Because 'tis cordial, would 'twere at thy heart.


ELEGY XII.

COME Fates ; I fear you not !   All whom I owe
Are paid, but you ; then 'rest me ere I go.
But Chance from you all sovereignty hath got ;
Love woundeth none but those whom Death dares not ;
True if you were, and just in equity,
I should have vanquish'd her, as you did me ;
Else lovers should not brave Death's pains, and live ;
But 'tis a rule, “ Death comes not to relieve.”
Or, pale and wan Death's terrors, are they laid
So deep in lovers, they make Death afraid ?
Or—the least comfort—have I company ?
O'ercame she Fates, Love, Death, as well as me ?
    Yes, Fates do silk unto her distaff pay,
For ransom, which tax they on us do lay.
Love gives her youth—which is the reason why
Youths, for her sake, some wither and some die.
Poor Death can nothing give ; yet, for her sake,
Still in her turn, he doth a lover take.
And if Death should prove false, she fears him not ;
Our Muses, to redeem her, she hath got.
That fatal night we last kiss'd, I thus pray'd,
—Or rather, thus despair'd, I should have said—
Kisses, and yet despair !  The forbid tree
Did promise (and deceive) no more than she.
Like lambs, that see their teats, and must eat hay,
A food, whose taste hath made me pine away.
Dives, when thou saw'st bliss, and craved'st to touch
A drop of water, thy great pains were such.
Here grief wants a fresh wit, for mine being spent,
And my sighs weary, groans are all my rent.
Unable longer to endure the pain,
They break like thunder, and do bring down rain.
Thus till dry tear solder my eye, I weep ;
And then, I dream, how you securely sleep,
And in your dreams do laugh at me.   I hate,
And pray Love all may ; he pities my state,
But says, I therein no revenge shall find ;
The sun would shine, though all the world were blind.
Yet, to try my hate, Love show'd me your tear ;
And I had died, had not your smile been there.
Your frown undoes me ; your smile is my wealth ;
And as you please to look, I have my health.
Methought, Love pitying me, when he saw this,
Gave me your hands, the backs and palms to kiss.
That cured me not, but to bear pain gave strength ;
And what is lost in force, is took in length.
I call'd on Love again, who fear'd you so,
That his compassion still proved greater woe ;
For, then I dream'd I was in bed with you,
But durst not feel, for fear it should not be true.
This merits not your anger, had it been ;
The queen of chastity was naked seen ;
And in bed not to feel, the pain I took,
Was more than for Actæon not to look ;
And that breast which lay ope, I did not know,
But for the clearness, from a lump of snow ;
Nor that sweet teat which on the top it bore
From the rose-bud which for my sake you wore.
These griefs to issue forth, by verse I prove ;
Or turn their course by travel and new love.
All would not do ; the best at last I tried ;
Unable longer to hold out, I died.
And then I found I lost life, death by flying ;
Who hundreds live, are but so long in dying.
Charon did let me pass ; I'll him requite.
To mark the groves or shades wrongs my delight ;
I'll speak but of those ghosts I found alone,
Those thousand ghosts, whereof myself made one,
All images of thee ; I asked them why ?
The judge told me, all they for thee did die,
And therefore had for their Elysian bliss,
In one another their own loves to kiss.
O here I miss'd not blissh, but being dead ;
For lo ! I dreamt, I dreamt, and waking said,
“ Heaven, if who are in thee there must dwell,
How is't I now was there, and now I fell ?”


ELEGY XIII.

HIS PARTING FROM HER.

SINCE she must go, and I must mourn, come night,
Environ me with darkness, whilst I write ;
Shadow that hell unto me, which alone
I am to suffer when my love is gone.
Alas ! the darkest magic cannot do it,
Thou and great hell, to boot, are shadows to it.
Should Cynthia quit thee, Venus, and each star,
It would not form one thought dark as mine are.
I could lend them obscureness now, and say
Out of my self, there should be no more day.
Such is already my self-want of sight,
Did not the fire within me force a light.
O Love, that fire and darkness should be mix'd,
Or to thy triumphs such strange torments fix'd !
Is it because thou thyself art blind, that we,
Thy martyrs, must no more each other see ?
Or takest thou pride to break us on the wheel,
And view old Chaos in the pains we feel ?
Or have we left undone some mutual rite,
That thus with parting thou seek'st us to spite ?
No, no.  The fault is mine, impute it to me,
Or rather to conspiring destiny,
Which, since I loved in jest before, decreed
That I should suffer, when I loved indeed ;
And therefore, sooner now than I can say,
I saw the golden fruit, 'tis rapt away ;
Or as I'd watch'd one drop in the vast stream,
And I left wealthy only in a dream.
Yet, Love, thou'rt blinder than myself in this,
To vex my dove-like friend for my amiss ;
And where one sad truth may expiate
Thy wrath, to make her fortune run my fate.
So blinded justice doth, when favourites fall,
Strike them, their house, their friends, their favourites all.
Was't not enough that thou didst dart thy fires
Into our bloods, inflaming our desires,
And madest us sigh, and blow, and pant, and burn,
And then thyself into our flames didst turn ?
Was't not enough that thou didst hazard us
To paths in love so dark and dangerous,
And those so ambush'd round with household spies,
And over all thy husband's towering eyes,
Inflamed with th' ugly sweat of jealousy ;
Yet went we not still on in constancy ?
Have we for this kept guards, like spy on spy ?
Had correspondence whilst the foe stood by ?
Stolen, more to sweeten them, our many blisses
Of meetings, conference, embracements, kisses ?
Shadow'd with negligence our best respects ?
Varied our language through all dialects
Of becks, winks, looks, and often under boards
Spoke dialogues with our feet far from our words ?
Have we proved all the secrets of our art,
Yea, thy pale inwards, and thy panting heart ?
And, after all this passed purgatory,
Must sad divorce make us the vulgar story ?
First let our eyes be riveted quite through
Our turning brain, and both our lips grow to ;
Let our arms clasp like ivy, and our fear
Freeze us together, that we may stick here,
Till Fortune, that would ruin us with the deed,
Strain his eyes open, and yet make them bleed.
For Love it cannot be, whom hitherto
I have accused, should such a mischief do.
O Fortune, thou'rt not worth my least exclaim,
And plague enough thou hast in thy own name.
Do thy great worst ; my friend and I have charms,
Though not against thy strokes, against thy harms.
Rend us in sunder ; thou canst not divide
Our bodies so, but that our souls are tied,
And we can love by letters still and gifts,
And thoughts and dreams ; love never wanteth shifts.
I will not look upon the quickening sun,
But straight her beauty to my sense shall run ;
The air shall note her soft, the fire, most pure ;
Waters suggest her clear, and the earth sure.
Time shall not lose our passages ; the spring,
How fresh our love was in the beginning ;
The summer, how it ripen'd in the year ;
And autumn, what our golden harvests were ;
The winter I'll not think on to spite thee,
But count it a lost season ; so shall she.
And dearest friend, since we must part, drown night
With hope of day—burdens well borne are light— ;
The cold and darkness longer hang somewhere,
Yet Phoebus equally lights all the sphere ;
And what we cannot in like portion pay
The world enjoys in mass, and so we may.
Be then ever yourself, and let no woe
Win on your health, your youth, your beauty ; so
Declare yourself base Fortune's enemy,
No less be your contempt than her inconstancy ;
That I may grow enamour'd on your mind,
When mine own thoughts I here neglected find.
And this to the comfort of my dear I vow,
My deeds shall still be what my deeds are now ;
The poles shall move to teach me ere I start ;
And when I change my love, I'll change my heart.
Nay, if I wax but cold in my desire,
Think, heaven hath motion lost, and the world, fire.
Much more I could, but many words have made
That oft suspected which men most persuade.
Take therefore all in this ; I love so true,
As I will never look for less in you.


ELEGY XIV.

JULIA.

HARK, news, O envy ; thou shalt hear descried
My Julia ; who as yet was ne'er envied.
To vomit gall in slander, swell her veins
With calumny, that hell itself disdains,
Is her continual practice ; does her best,
To tear opinion e'en out of the breast
Of dearest friends, and—which is worse than vile—
Sticks jealousy in wedlock ; her own child
Scapes not the showers of envy.  To repeat
The monstrous fashions how, were alive to eat
Deare reputation ; would to God she were
But half so loth to act vice, as to hear
My mild reproof.  Lived Mantuan now again
That female Mastix to limn with his pen,
This she Chimera that hath eyes of fire,
Burning with anger—anger feeds desire—
Tongued like the night crow, whose ill boding cries
Give out for nothing but new injuries ;
Her breath like to the juice in Tænarus,
That blasts the springs, though ne'er so prosperous ;
Her hands, I know not how, used more to spill
The food of others than herself to fill ;
But O ! her mind, that Orcus, which includes
Legions of mischiefs, countless multitudes
Of formless curses, projects unmade up,
Abuses yet unfashion'd, thoughts corrupt,
Misshapen cavils, palpable untroths,
Inevitable errors, self-accusing loaths.
These, like those atoms swarming in the sun,
Throng in her bosom for creation.
I blush to give her halfe her due ; yet say,
No poison's half so bad as Julia.


ELEGY XV.

A TALE OF A CITIZEN AND HIS WIFE.

I SING no harm, good sooth, to any wight,
To lord or fool, cuckold, beggar, or knight,
To peace-teaching lawyer, proctor, or brave
Reformed or reducèd captain, knave,
Officer, juggler, or justice of peace,
Juror or judge ; I touch no fat sow's grease ;
I am no libeller, nor will be any,
But—like a true man—say there are too many.
I fear not ore tenus ; for my tale
Nor count nor counsellor will look red or pale.


    A citizen and his wife the other day
Both riding on one horse, upon the way
I overtook ; the wench a pretty peat,
And—by her eye—well fitting for the feat.
I saw the lecherous citizen turn back
His head, and on his wife's lip steal a smack ;
Whence apprehending that the man was kind,
Riding before to kiss his wife behind,
To get acquaintance with him I began
To sort discourse fit for so fine a man ;
I ask'd the number of the plaguing bill ;
Ask'd if the custom farmers held out still ;
Of the Virginian plot, and whether Ward
The traffic of the island seas had marr'd ;
Whether the Britain Burse did fill apace,
And likely were to give th' Exchange disgrace.
Of new-built Aldgate, and the Moor-field crosses,
Of store of bankrupts, and poor merchants' losses
I urgèd him to speak ; but he—as mute
As an old courtier worn to his last suit—
Replies with only yeas and nays ; at last
—To fit his element—my theme I cast
On tradesmen's gains ; that set his tongue a-going.
“ Alas ! good sir,” quoth he, “ There is no doing
In court or city now” ; she smiled, and I,
And, in my conscience, both gave him the lie
In one met thought ; but he went on apace,
And at the present time with such a face
He rail'd, as fray'd me ; for he gave no praise
To any but my Lord of Essex' days ;
Call'd that the age of action—“ True ! ” quoth I—
“ There's now as great an itch of bravery,
And heat of taking up, but cold lay down,
For, put to push of pay, away they run ;
Our only city trades of hope now are
Bawd, tavern-keepers, whores, and scriveners.
The much of privileged kinsmen and store
Of fresh protections make the rest all poor.
In the first state of their creation
Though many stoutly stand, yet proves not one
A righteous pay-master.”   Thus ran he on
In a continued rage ; so void of reason
Seem'd his harsh talk, I sweat for fear of treason.
And—troth—how could I less ? when in the prayer
For the protection of the wise Lord Mayor,
And his wise brethren's worships, when one prayeth,
He swore that none could say amen with faith.
To get off him from what I glow'd to hear,
In happy time an angel did appear,
The bright sign of a loved and well-tried inn,
Where many citizens with their wives had been
Well used and often ; here I pray'd him stay,
To take some due refreshment by the way.
Look, how he look'd that hid the gold, his hope,
And at return found nothing but a rope,
So he at me ; refused and made away,
Though willing she pleaded a weary stay.
I found my miss, struck hands, and pray'd him tell—
To hold acquaintance still—where he did dwell.
He barely named the street, promised the wine,
But his kind wife gave me the very sign.


ELEGY XVI.

THE EXPOSTULATION.

TO make the doubt clear, that no woman's true,
Was it my fate to prove it strong in you?
Thought I, but one had breathèd purest air ;
And must she needs be false, because she's fair?
Is it your beauty's mark, or of your youth,
Or your perfection, not to study truth?
Or think you heaven is deaf, or hath no eyes?
Or those it hath smile at your perjuries?
Are vows so cheap with women, or the matter
Whereof they're made, that they are writ in water,
And blown away with wind?   Or doth their breath
Both hot and cold, at once make life and death?
Who could have thought so many accents sweet
Form'd into words, so may sighs should meet
As from our hearts, so many oaths, and tears
Sprinkled among, all sweeten'd by our fears,
And the divine impression of stolen kisses,
That seal'd the rest, should now prove empty blisses?
Did you draw bonds to forfeit? sign to break?
Or must we read you quite from what you speak,
And find the truth out the wrong way? or must
He first desire you false, would wish you just?
O ! I profane ! though most of women be
This kind of beast, my thoughts shall except thee,
My dearest love ; though froward jealousy
With circumstance might urge thy inconstancy,
Sooner I'll think the sun will cease to cheer
The teeming earth, and that forget to bear ;
Sooner that rivers will run back, or Thames
With ribs of ice in June will bin his streams ;
Or nature, by whose strength the world endures,
Would change her course, before you alter yours.
But O ! that treacherous breast, to whom weak you
Did drift our counsels, and we both may rue,
Having his falsehood found too late ; 'twas he
That made me cast you guilty, and you me ;
Whilst he, black wretch, betray'd each simple word
We spake, unto the cunning of a third.
Cursed may he be, that so our love hath slain,
And wander on the earth, wretched as Cain,
Let all eyes shun him, and he shun each eye,
'Til he be noisome as his infamy ;
May he without remorse deny God thrice,
And not be trusted more on his soul's price ;
And, after all self-torment, when he dies,
May wolves tear out his heart, vultures his eyes,
Swine eat his bowels, and his falser tongue
That utter'd all, be to some raven flung ;
And let his carrion corse be a longer feast
To the king's dogs, than any other beast.
Now have I cursed, let us our love revive ;
In me the flame was never more alive.
I could begin again to court and praise,
And in that pleasure lengthen the short days
Of my life's lease ; like painters that do take
Delight, not in made work, but whiles they make.
I could renew those times, when first I saw
Love in your eyes, that gave my tongue the law
To like what you liked ; and at masks and plays
Commend the self-same actors, the same ways ;
Ask how you did, and often with intent
Of being officious, be impertinent ;
All which were such soft pastimes, as in these
Love was as subtly catch'd as a disease.
But being got, it is a treasure sweet,
Which to defend is harder than to get ;
And ought not be profaned, on either part,
For though 'tis got by chance, 'tis kept by art.


ELEGY XVII.

ELEGY ON HIS MISTRESS.

By our first strange and fatal interview,
By all desires which thereof did ensue,
By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
Which my words masculine persuasive force
Begot in thee, and by the memory
Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten'd me,
I calmly beg.   But by thy father's wrath,
By all pains, which want and divorcement hath,
I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I
And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,
Here I unswear, and overswear them thus ;
Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.
Temper, O fair love, love's impetuous rage ;
Be my true mistress still, not my feign'd page.
I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind
Thirst to come back ; O ! if thou die before,
My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
Thy else almighty beauty cannot move
Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness ; thou hast read
How roughly he in pieces shivered
Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.
Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have proved
Dangers unurged ; feed on this flattery,
That absent lovers one in th' other be.
Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change
Thy body's habit, nor mind ; be not strange
To thyself only.   All will spy in thy face
A blushing womanly discovering grace.
Richly clothed apes are call'd apes, and as soon
Eclipsed as bright, we call the moon the moon.
Men of France, changeable chameleons,
Spitals of diseases, shops of fashions,
Love's fuellers, and the rightest company
Of players, which upon the world's stage be,
Will quickly know thee, and no less, alas !
Th' indifferent Italian, as we pass
His warm land, well content to think thee page,
Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,
As Lot's fair guests were vex'd.   But none of these
Nor spongy hydroptic Dutch shall thee displease,
If thou stay here.  O stay here, for for thee
England is only a worthy gallery,
To walk in expectation, till from thence
Our greatest king call thee to his presence.
When I am gone, dream me some happiness ;
Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess ;
Nor praise, nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse
Openly love's force, nor in bed fright thy nurse
With midnight's startings, crying out, O ! O !
Nurse, O ! my love is slain ; I saw him go
O'er the white Alps alone ; I saw him, I,
Assail'd, fight, taken, stabb'd, bleed, fall, and die.
Augur me better chance, except dread Jove
Think it enough for me to have had thy love.


ELEGY XVIII.

THE heavens rejoice in motion ; why should I
Abjure my so much loved variety,
And not with many youth and love divide ?
Pleasure is none, if not diversified.
The sun that, sitting in the chair of light,
Sheds flame into what else so ever doth seem bright,
Is not contented at one sign to inn,
But ends his year, and with a new begin.
All things do willingly in change delight,
The fruitful mother of our appetite ;
Rivers the clearer and more pleasing are,
Where their fair-spreading streams run wide and clear ;
And a dead lake, that no strange bark doth greet,
Corrupts itself, and what doth live in it.
Let no man tell me such a one is fair,
And worthy all alone my love to share.
Nature in her hath done the liberal part
Of a kind mistress, and employed her art,
To make her loveable, and I aver
Him not humane, that would turn back from her.
I love her well, and would, if need were, die,
To do her service.   But follows it that I
Must serve her only, when I may have choice ?
The law is hard, and shall not have my voice.
The last I saw in all extremes is fair,
And holds me in the sunbeams of her hair ;
Her nymph-like features such agreements have,
That I could venture with her to the grave.
Another's brown ; I like her not the worse ;
Her tongue is soft and takes me with discourse.
Others, for that they well descended were,
Do in my love obtain as large a share ;
And though they be not fair, 'tis much with me
To win their love only for their degree.
And though I fail of my required ends,
The attempt is glorious and itself commends.
How happy were our sires in ancient time,
Who held plurality of loves no crime.
With them it was accounted charity
To stir up race of all indifferently ;
Kindred were not exempted from the bands,
Which with the Persian still in usage stands.
Women were then no sooner ask'd than won,
And what they did was honest and well done.
But since this little Honour hath been used,
Our weak credulity hath been abused ;
The golden laws of nature are repeal'd,
Which our first fathers in such reverence held ;
Our liberty reversed and charters gone ;
And we made servants to Opinion ;
A monster in no certain shape attired,
And whose original is much desired,
Formless at first, but growing on its fashions,
And doth prescribe manners and laws to nations.
Here love received immedicable harms,
And was despoiled of his daring arms ;
A greater want than is his daring eyes,
He lost those awful wings with which he flies,
His sinewy bow and those immortal darts,
With which he is wont to bruise resisting hearts.
Only some few, strong in themselves and free,
Retain the seeds of ancient liberty,
Following that part of love although depress'd,
Yet make a throne for him within their breast,
In spite of modern censures him avowing
Their sovereign, all service him allowing.
Amongst which troop although I am the least,
Yet equal in perfection with the best,
I glory in subjection of his hand,
Nor ever did decline his least command ;
For in whatever form the message came
My heart did open and receive the same,
But time will in his course a point descry
When I this lovèd service must deny ;
For our allegiance temporary is ;
With firmer age returns our liberties.
What time in years and judgment we reposed,
Shall not so easily be to change disposed,
Nor to the art of several eyes obeying,
But beauty with true worth securely weighing ;
Which being found assembled in some one
We'll leave her ever, and love her alone.


ELEGY XIX.

WHOEVER loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.
Love is a bear-whelp born : if we o'er-lick
Our love, and force it new strange shapes to take,
We err, and of a lump a monster make.
Were not a calf a monster, that were grown
Faced like a man, though better than his own ?
Perfection is in unity ; prefer
One woman first, and then one thing in her.
I, when I value gold, may think upon
The ductileness, the application,
The wholesomeness, the ingenuity,
From rust, from soil, from fire ever free ;
But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made
By our new nature, use, the soul of trade.
    All this in women we might think upon,
—If women had them—and yet love but one.
Can men more injure women than to say
They love them for that, by which they're not they ?
Makes virtue woman ? must I cool my blood
Till I both be, and find one wise and good ?
May barren angels love so.   But if we
Make love to woman, virtue is not she,
As beauty is not, nor wealth.   He that strays thus
From her to hers is more adulterous
Than if he took her maid.   Search every sphere
And firmament, our Cupid is not there.
He's an infernal God, and underground
With Pluto dwells, where gold and fire abound.
Men to such gods their sacrificing coals
Did not on altars lay, but pits and holes.
Although we see celestial bodies move
Above the earth, the earth we till and love.
So we her airs contemplate, words and heart,
And virtues, but we love the centric part.
    Nor is the soul more worthy, or more fit
For love, than this, as infinite as it.
But in attaining this desired place
How much they err, that set out at the face ?
The hair a forest is of ambushes,
Of springes, snares, fetters, and manacles ;
The brow becalms us when 'tis smooth and plain,
And when 'tis wrinkled, shipwrecks us again ;
Smooth, 'tis a paradise, where we would have
Immortal stay, but wrinkled 'tis a grave.
The nose, like to the first meridian, runs
Not 'twixt an east and west, but 'twixt two suns ;
It leaves a cheek, a rosy hemisphere,
On either side, and then directs us where
Upon the islands fortunate we fall,
Not faint Canaries, but ambrosial,
Her swelling lips, to which when we are come,
We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,
For they seem all ; there Sirens' songs and there
Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear.
There, in a creek where chosen pearls do swell,
The remora, her cleaving tongue, doth dwell.
These and the glorious promontory, her chin,
O'erpast, and the straight Hellespont between
The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts,
Not of two lovers, but two loves, the nests,
Succeeds a boundless sea, but yet thine eye
Some island moles may scattered there descry ;
And sailing towards her India, in that way
Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay.
Though there the current be the pilot made,
Yet, ere thou be where thou shouldst be embay'd,
Thou shalt upon another forest set,
Where many shipwreck, and no further get.
When thou art there, consider what this chase
Misspent by thy beginning at the face.
    Rather set out below ; practise thy art ;
Some symmetry the foot hath with that part
Which thou dost seek, and is thy map for that,
Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at.
Least subject to disguise and change it is ;
Men say the devil never can change his ;
It is the emblem that hath figured
Firmness ; 'tis the first part that comes to bed.
Civility we see refined ; the kiss,
Which at the face began, transplanted is,
Since to the hand, since to the imperial knee,
Now at the papal foot delights to be.
If kings think that the nearer way, and do
Rise from the foot, lovers may do so too ;
For, as free spheres move faster far than can
Birds, whom the air resists, so may that man
Which goes this empty and ethereal way,
Than if at beauty's elements he stay.
Rich Nature in women wisely made
Two purses, and their mouths aversely laid.
They then which to the lower tribute owe,
That way which that exchequer looks must go ;
He which doth not, his error is as great,
As who by clyster gives the stomach meat.


ELEGY XX.

TO HIS MISTRESS GOING TO BED.

COME, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet, and show
The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread
In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite ;
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
    Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my Newfoundland,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.
    Full nakedness !  All joys are due to thee ;
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys.   Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;
That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul might court that, not them.
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For laymen, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are only mystic books, which we
—Whom their imputed grace will dignify—
Must see reveal'd.   Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to thy midwife show
Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ;
There is no penance due to innocence :
To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?












©2001 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.