Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
The Will
By John Donne (1572–1631)
 
    BEFORE I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
    Great Love, some legacies; here I bequeath
    Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see,
    If they be blind, then Love, I give them thee;
    My tongue to Fame; to ambassadors mine ears;        5
      To women, or the sea, my tears;
    Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore
  By making me serve her who had twenty more,
That I should give to none, but such as had too much before.
 
    My constancy I to the planets give,        10
    My truth to them who at the court do live;
    Mine ingenuity and openness
    To Jesuits; to buffoons my pensiveness;
    My silence to any, who abroad hath been;
      My money to a Capuchin.        15
    Thou, Love, taught’st me, by appointing me
  To love there, where no love receiv’d can be,
Only to give to such as have an incapacity.
 
    My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
    All my good works unto the schismatics        20
    Of Amsterdam; my best civility
    And courtship, to an university;
    My modesty I give to shoulders bare;
      My patience let gamesters share.
    Thou, Love, taught’st me, by making me        25
  Love her that holds my love disparity,
Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.
 
    I give my reputation to those
    Which were my friends; my industry to foes;
    To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness;        30
    My sickness to physicians, or excess;
    To Nature, all that I in rhyme have writ;
      And to my company my wit;
    Thou, Love, by making me adore
  Her, who begot this love in me before,        35
Taught’st me to make, as though I gave, when I did but restore.
 
    To him for whom the passing bell next tolls
    I give my physic books; my written rolls
    Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give;
    My brazen medals, unto them which live        40
    In want of bread; to them which pass among
      All foreigners, my English tongue,
    Thou, Love, by making me love one
  Who thinks her friendship a fit portion
For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.        45
 
    Therefore I’ll give no more; but I’ll undo
    The world by dying; because love dies too.
    Then all your beauties will be no more worth
    Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth;
    And all your graces no more use shall have        50
      Than a sun-dial on a grave.
    Thou, Love, taught’st me, by making me
  Love her, who doth neglect both me and thee,
To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all three.
 
 
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