John Donne Thesis Collection

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,   

How little that which thou deniest me is;   

It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;   

Thou know’st that this cannot be said

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,

Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, nay more than married are.   

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;   

Though parents grudge, and you, w’are met,   

And cloistered in these living walls of jet.

Though use make you apt to kill me,

Let not to that, self-murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?   

Wherein could this flea guilty be,

Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?   

Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou   

Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;

’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:

Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

Your Fool

How easily I am swept away,

though to you, I fear, this is only a game. 

You, dripping with sugar and sweetness

render my virtuous lips speechless. 

Your words playing with love do curl 

my innocent thoughts, like a little girl.

I know you think me a fool,

but I can’t tell if you are simply cruel. 

A conniving, salacious, and thieving tool. 

My dress falls away with the caress of your fingers,

swift and expert, though their touch lingers.

I sparkle and dance with illustrious fire,

as long as you tell me I’m your only desire. 

Promise you’ll stay even after you’ve had me,

and declare that forever, I’ll be your greatest victory. 

Perhaps it’s always been me, the fool

drowning my affection in your vivacious pool,

where your words betray reason, painting me beautiful.

I feel I must go along with you,

testing the waters to see if you prove true.

With your talk of fleas and blood combining, 

it is clear to see how hard you are trying.

Though it is true you license my worst desires,

I fear that too quickly, of me, you’ll tire. 

Departing and leaving me empty so soon,

my face red and puffy, I’ll cry to the moon-

for some starry escape from our coming doom. 

Woman’s Consistency

Now thou has loved me one whole day,

Tomorrow when you leav’st, what wilt thou say?

Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow?

            Or say that now

We are not just those persons which we were?

Or, that oaths made in reverential fear

Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear?

Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,

So lovers’ contracts, images of those,

Bind but till sleep, death’s image, them unloose?

            Or, your own end to justify,

For having purposed change and falsehood, you

Can have no way but falsehood to be true?

Vain lunatic, against these ‘scapes I could

            Dispute and conquer, if I would,

            Which I abstain to do,

For by tomorrow, I may think so too.

Man’s Consistency

That first night you swore, you would never leave.

Each day with you, i grew more willing to believe.

The fruits of your labors you tied ‘round my wrist,

all diamonds and tokens i couldn’t resist.

Yet in reflections of crystal,

I met only my own eyes- vacant

distractions in shallow pools of green.

Quickly forgiving your absence, rather calling you sweet.

Victory is yours, if it’s victory you desire,

Cloud my pretty mind with pretty things, and your sins are forgiven-

Yet never forgotten, for you are forever indiscreet.

Too soon you leave again, 

and I weep for affection or glitter in vain.

Not long after leaving, you’ve forgotten my name.

Tracing fingers down her back like our love is a game. 

It took me a while, but now it is plain,

you love like the moon- both with wax and with wane. 

Holy Sonnet X

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Holy Sonnet Xb

Life be not proud, though some who seek her are 

With chest plump and head held high

They speak as though they reach the sky

Above the others, they maim and scar

And think it nothing but simple spar

When life strikes down those unkind

Who seek her image through another’s eye

Thinking envy is everything, reaching for the wrong star

Slaves to chance yet bound to expectation

The prideful flounder, never tasting life’s flavors

Desiring depth without toil in life’s lasting labors

For high horses need blinders for quick evasion

With winding roads everchanging and hard

Life cannot be conquered, however prideful you are.

The Prohibition 

           Take heed of loving me ;

At least remember, I forbade it thee ;

Not that I shall repair my unthrifty waste

Of breath and blood, upon thy sighs and tears,

By being to thee then what to me thou wast ;

But so great joy our life at once outwears.

Then, lest thy love by my death frustrate be,

If thou love me, take heed of loving me.

            Take heed of hating me,

Or too much triumph in the victory ;

Not that I shall be mine own officer,

And hate with hate again retaliate ;

But thou wilt lose the style of conqueror,

If I, thy conquest, perish by thy hate.

Then, lest my being nothing lessen thee,

If thou hate me, take heed of hating me.

            Yet love and hate me too ;

So these extremes shall ne’er their office do ;

Love me, that I may die the gentler way ;

Hate me, because thy love’s too great for me ;

Or let these two, themselves, not me, decay ;

So shall I live thy stage, not triumph be.

Lest thou thy love and hate, and me undo,

O let me live, yet love and hate me too.

The Drink

I hover and hesitate, before loving you,

for I can never wholly believe you are true.

In this way if you prove false

and tear away from my heart,

no blood will drain or slow my pulse.

For I never begged to be your sweetheart. 

After all my walls that you blew,

I’ll never surrender everything to you.

I can never seem to hate you.

After all, there is nothing you ask me to do,

but love and cherish every day.

It seems all others cannot contend

with the sugar that drips from each word you say;

Forming promises of love around each bend.

if you will truly stay and follow through,

Then nothing fearful I will do.

In stopping you from the leave of me,

I never could but let you be. 

For if you truly wish to depart,

I’ll have no grand declarations to entreat.

But I’ll ask you once if it is smart,

for gaining my love is quite a feat.

Tides of love come and go,

as I hover and hesitate in feeling,

you wash over me.

Elegy 8: To His Mistress Going to Bed

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,

Until I labour, I in labour lie.

The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,

Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.

Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,

But a far fairer world encompassing.

Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,

That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped 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 that wiry Coronet and shew

The hairy Diadem which on you doth grow:

Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread

In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.

In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be

Received by men; Thou Angel bringst 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 new-found-land,

My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,

My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,

How blest am I in this discovering thee!

To enter in these bonds, is to be free;

Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.

    Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,

As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,

To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use

Are like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s views,

That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a Gem,

His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.

Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings made

For lay-men, are all women thus array’d;

Themselves are mystic books, which only we

(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)

Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;

As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew

Thy self: 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.

I, the mistress in your bed

Master and Mistress we play this game,

fantasies and fancies never twice the same.

You- with those green glittering eyes,

take sight of me without disguise.

Boldly beckoning to me in bed, 

my lips protest- you come to me instead.

You told me once I’ve never said no.

It’s true, with you, I’ve never been slow.

Just touch me and my bells chime,

for it is you I want every time.

Your eyes are guilty of holding me captive, 

they’re all I see while the rest of you is active.

I, my master in my own dress,

you own once I undress. 

At times I wonder

how you got me under

your thumb and your whims, 

ever controlling the will of my limbs. 

One moment I’m my own, but not in the next.

for I am your mistress, forever lost in your hex.

For every ounce of my trust, 

I gift with pleasure to your violent lust.

Flip my master room to your playground,

you take the role of master now. 

There you are walking, fingering the hem,

while I fall like a flower in need of steam.

My petals-for minutes- have layed on the floor.

Still you move so slowly with all I adore. 

Face softening- hardening- in view of me.

I go where ever you will be.

My country and my body, 

you grasp and embody.

Your newfound land,

mountains and curves only you understand. 

Trace me now and with your fingers

real touch, at last, I feel how it lingers.

Time and time again am i undone,

but by the end, it’s me who has won. 

For you rest in my bed, all through the night;

and each morning it’s only me you bite.

These echoing halls recite our laughter

even after

you have seen me all,

love and lust endure and enthrall.

Master or Mistress, it does not matter,

all discarded clothes are equal in tatter.

The truth is we are both to blame,

our lust a beast we’ll never tame. 

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