WHOEVER guesses, thinks, or dreams, he knows
Who is my mistress, wither by this curse;
Him, only for his purse
May some dull whore to love dispose,
And then yield unto all that are his foes;
May he be scorn'd by one, whom all else scorn,
Forswear to others, what to her he hath sworn,
With fear of missing, shame of getting, torn.
Madness his sorrow, gout his cramps, may he
Make, by but thinking who hath made him such;
And may he feel no touch
Of conscience, but of fame, and be
Anguish'd, not that 'twas sin, but that 'twas she;
Or may he for her virtue reverence
One that hates him only for impotence,
And equal traitors be she and his sense.
May he dream treason, and believe that he
Meant to perform it, and confesses, and die,
And no record tell why;
His sons, which none of his may be,
Inherit nothing but his infamy;
Or may he so long parasites have fed,
That he would fain be theirs whom he hath bred,
And at the last be circumcised for bread.
The venom of all stepdames, gamesters' gall,
What tyrants and their subjects interwish,
What plants, mine, beasts, fowl, fish,
Can contribute, all ill, which all
Prophets or poets spake, and all which shall
Be annex'd in schedules unto this by me,
Fall on that man; For if it be a she
Nature beforehand hath out-cursèd me.
Return to the John Donne library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Damp