Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Songs and Sonnets
A Lecture upon the Shadow
 
STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love’s philosophy.
    These three hours that we have spent,
    Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.        5
But, now the sun is just above our head,
    We do those shadows tread,
    And to brave clearness all things are reduced.
So whilst our infant loves 1 did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow,        10
From us and our cares; but now ’tis not so.
 
That love has not attain’d the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.
 
Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.        15
    As the first were made to blind
    Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westwardly decline,
    To me thou, falsely, thine        20
    And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day;
But O! love’s day is short, if love decay.
 
Love is a growing, or full constant light,        25
And his short minute, after noon, is night.
 
Note 1. l. 9. 1669, love [back]
 
 
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