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
To Mrs. Boulstred
 
SHALL I go force an elegy? abuse
My wit, and break the hymen of my Muse
For one poor hour’s love? deserve it such
Which serves not me to do on her as much?
Or, if it could, I would that fortune shun—        5
Who would be rich, to be so soon undone?
The beggar’s best, 1 his wealth he doth not know,
And but to show it him increaseth woe.
But we two may enjoy an hour; when never
It returns, who would have a loss for ever?        10
Nor can so short a love, if true, but bring
A half-hour’s fear with thought of the losing.
Before it all hours were hope, and all are,
That shall come after it, years of despair.
This joy brings this doubt, whether it were more        15
To have enjoyed it or to have died before.
’Tis a lost Paradise, a fall from grace,
Which I think Adam felt more than his race;
Nor need those angels any other hell;
It is enough for them from heaven they fell.        20
Beside, conquest in love is all in all,
That, when I list, she under me may fall;
And for this turn, both for delight and view,
I’ll have a Succuba as good as you.
But when these toys are past, and hot blood ends,        25
The best enjoying is, we still are friends.
Love can but be friendship’s outside; their two
Beauties differ as minds and bodies do.
Thus I this great good still would be to take,
Unless one hour another happy make,        30
Or that I might forget it instantly,
Or in that blest estate that I might die.
But why do I thus travail in the skill
Of despised poetry, and perchance spill
My fortune, or undo myself in sport        35
By having but that dangerous name in court?
I’ll leave, and since I do your poet prove,
Keep you my lines as secret as my love.
 
Note 1. l. 7. Query, The beggar’s best’s, [back]
 
 
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