A FEVER.
by John Donne


O ! DO not die, for I shall hate
    All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
    When I remember thou wast one.

But yet thou canst not die, I know ;
    To leave this world behind, is death ;
But when thou from this world wilt go,
    The whole world vapours with thy breath.

Or if, when thou, the world's soul, go'st,
    It stay, 'tis but thy carcase then ;
The fairest woman, but thy ghost,
    But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.

O wrangling schools, that search what fire
    Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
    That this her feaver might be it?

And yet she cannot waste by this,
    Nor long bear this torturing wrong,
For more corruption needful is,
    To fuel such a fever long.

These burning fits but meteors be,
    Whose matter in thee is soon spent ;
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee,
    Are unchangeable firmament.

Yet 'twas of my mind, seizing thee,
    Though it in thee cannot perséver ;
For I had rather owner be
    Of thee one hour, than all else ever.



Source:
Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 20-21.



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