WHILST yet to prove
I thought there was some deity in love,
So did I reverence, and gave
Worship; as atheists at their dying hour
Call, what they cannot name, an unknown power,
As ignorantly did I crave.
Things not yet known are coveted by men,
Our desires give them fashion, and so
As they wax lesser, fall, as they size, grow.
But, from late fair,
His highness sitting in a golden chair,
Is not less cared for after three days
By children, than the thing which lovers so
Blindly admire, and with such worship woo;
Being had, enjoying it decays;
What before pleased them all, takes but one sense,
And that so lamely, as it leaves behind
A kind of sorrowing dulness to the mind.
Ah cannot we,
As well as cocks and lions, jocund be
After such pleasures, unless wise
Nature decreed—since each such act, they say,
Diminisheth the length of life a day—
This; as she would man should despise
Because that other curse of being short,
And only for a minute made to be
Eager, desires to raise posterity.
Since so, my mind
Shall not desire what no man else can find;
I'll no more dote and run
To pursue things which had endamaged me;
And when I come where moving beauties be,
As men do when the summer's sun
Though I admire their greatness, shun their heat.
Each place can afford shadows; if all fail,
'Tis but applying worm-seed to the tail.
Return to the John Donne library , or . . . Read the next poem; Holy Sonnets