Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Appendix A. Doubtful Poems
The Portrait
 
PAINTER, while there thou sit’st drawing the sight
  That her unkind regard hath dyed in grief,
Dip black thy pencil, and forget the white,
  That thou bestow’st on looks that win belief;
And when thy work is done, then let her see        5
The humble image of her cruelty.
 
Or if t’ unfold the sense of her disdain
  Exceeds the narrow limits of thine art,
Then blot thy table, and forget thy pain,
  Till thou hast learned the colours of her heart;        10
And let her then no sight or other show
But that void place where thou hast painted woe.
 
Tell her that those whom th’ heavens’ injuries
  Have kept at sea in wandering desperation
Sit down at length, and brag of miseries,        15
  The highest measure of their ostentation.
So hath she lost me till my latest glory
Is her content, and my affliction’s story.
 
Tell her that tears and sighs shall never cease
  With flowing streams, to sink her in conceit,        20
Till at the length she pity or release
  The gentle heart that on her eyes did wait,
Pure lights embracing in each other’s scope
The strength of faith and weaknesses of hope.
 
Thus do I breathe forth my unhappiness,        25
  And play with rhymes, as if my thoughts were free,
Wherein if I had power but to express
  Her name, the world would with my griefs agree.
But, idle vein! consume thyself in this.
That I have sworn to bury what she is. 1        30
 
Note 1. See the Notes for an alternative ending. [back]
 
 
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