THE UNDERTAKING.
by John Donne


I HAVE done one braver thing
      Than all the Worthies did ;
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
      Which is, to keep that hid.

It were but madness now to impart
      The skill of specular stone,
When he, which can have learn'd the art
      To cut it, can find none.

So, if I now should utter this,
      Others—because no more
Such stuff to work upon, there is—
      Would love but as before.

But he who loveliness within
      Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who color loves, and skin,
      Loves but their oldest clothes.

If, as I have, you also do
      Virtue in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
      And forget the He and She ;

And if this love, though placèd so,
      From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
      Or, if they do, deride ;

Then you have done a braver thing
      Than all the Worthies did ;
And a braver thence will spring,
      Which is, to keep that hid.




Source:
Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 6-7.


to John Donne


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