Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Satire I. “Away, thou changeling motley humourist”
AWAY, thou changeling 1 motley humourist,
Leave me, and in this standing wooden chest,
Consorted with these few books, let me lie
In prison, and here be coffin’d when I die.
Here are God’s conduits, grave divines, and here        5
Nature’s secretary, 2 the philosopher,
And wily statesmen, 3 which teach how to tie
The sinews of a city’s mystic body;
Here gathering chroniclers, 4 and by them stand
Giddy fantastic poets of each land.        10
Shall I leave all this constant company,
And follow headlong, wild, uncertain thee?
First, swear by thy best love, here, 5 in earnest
—If thou, which lovest all, canst 6 love any best—
Thou wilt not leave me in the middle street,        15
Though some more spruce companion thou dost meet; 7
Not though a captain do come in thy way
Bright parcel-gilt, with forty dead men’s pay;
Not though a brisk perfumèd pert courtier
Deign with a nod thy courtesy 8 to answer;        20
Nor come a velvet justice with a long
Great train of blue coats, twelve or fourteen strong,
Wilt 9 thou grin, or fawn on him, or prepare
A speech to court his beauteous son and heir?
For better or worse 10 take me, or leave me;        25
To take and leave me is adultery.
O monstrous, 11 superstitious puritan,
Of refined manners, yet ceremonial man,
That when thou meet’st one, with enquiring eyes
Doth search, and like a needy broker prize        30
The silk and gold he wears, and to that rate,
So high or low, dost raise 12 thy formal hat;
That will consort none, until 13 thou have known
What lands he hath in hope, or of his own,
As though all thy companions should make thee        35
Jointures, and marry thy dear company.
Why shouldst thou, that dost not only approve,
But in rank itchy lust desire and love
The nakedness and bareness 14 to enjoy
Of thy plump muddy whore, or prostitute boy,        40
Hate virtue, though she be naked and bare?
At birth, and death, our bodies naked are;
And, till our souls be unapparelled
Of bodies, they from bliss are banished.
Man’s first blest 15 state was naked; when by sin        45
He lost that, he was 16 clothed but in beasts’ skin;
And in this coarse attire, which I now 17 wear,
With God and with the Muses I confer.
But since thou, like a contrite penitent,
Charitably warn’d of thy sins, dost repent        50
These vanities and giddinesses, lo!
I shut my chamber door; and come, let’s go.
But sooner may a cheap whore, who hath 18 been
Worn by 19 as many several men in sin,
As are black feathers, or musk-coloured hose,        55
Name her child’s right true father ’mongst all those;
Sooner may one guess who shall bear away
Th’ infant of London, heir to an India; 20
And sooner may a gulling weather-spy,
By drawing forth heaven’s scheme, 21 tell certainly        60
What fashion’d hats, or ruffs, or suits next year
Our subtle-witted 22 antic youths will wear,
Than thou, when thou depart’st from me, 23 can show
Whither, why, when, 24 or with whom thou wouldst go.
But how shall I be pardon’d my offence        65
That thus have sinn’d against my conscience?
Now we are in the street; he first of all,
Improvidently 25 proud, creeps to the wall;
And so imprison’d, and hemm’d in by me,
Sells for a little state 26 high liberty. 27        70
Yet though he cannot skip forth now to greet
Every fine, silken, painted fool we meet,
He them to him 28 with amorous smiles allures,
And grins, smacks, shrugs, and such an itch endures,
As ’prentices or school-boys, which do know        75
Of some gay sport abroad, yet dare not go.
And as fiddlers stop lowest, at highest sound,
So to the most brave, stoops 29 he nighest the ground.
But to a grave man he doth move no more
Than the wise politic horse would heretofore,        80
Or thou, O elephant, or ape, wilt do,
When any names the King of Spain to you.
Now leaps he upright, jogs me, and cries, ‘Do you see
Yonder well-favoured youth?’ ‘Which?’ ‘O, ’tis he 30
That dances so divinely.’ ‘O,’ said I,        85
‘Stand still, must you dance here 31 for company?’
He droop’d, we went, till one—which did excel
Th’ Indians in drinking his tobacco well—
Met us; they talk’d; I whisper’d, ‘Let us go,
’T may be you smell him not; truly I do.’        90
He hears not me, but, on the other side
A many-colour’d peacock having spied,
Leaves him and me; I for my lost sheep stay;
He follows, overtakes, goes on the way,
Saying, ‘Him whom I last left, all repute 32        95
For his device in handsoming a suit,
To judge of lace, pink, panes, print, cut, and pleat, 33
Of all the court to have the best conceit.’
‘Our dull comedians want him, let him go;
But O, God strengthen thee, why stopp’st 34 thou so?’        100
‘Why!’ ‘Hath he travell’d long?’ 35 ‘No.’ ‘But to me,
Which understand 36 none, he doth seem to be
Perfect French and Italian,’ I replied,
‘So is the pox.’ He answer’d not, but spied
More men of sort, of parts and qualities.        105
At last his love he in a window spies,
And like light dew exhaled, he flings from me
Violently ravish’d to his lechery. 37
Many were there; 38 he could command no more;
He quarrell’d, fought, bled; and turn’d out of door        110
Directly came to me, hanging the head,
And constantly a while must keep his bed.
Note 1. l. 1. So Harl., 1635; 1633, fondling [back]
Note 2. l. 6. 1669, Is Nature’s secretary [back]
Note 3. l. 7. So 1635; 1633, Harl., jolly statesmen [back]
Note 4. l. 9. Harl., chronicles [back]
Note 5. l. 13. So 1635; Harl., 1633 omits here [back]
Note 6. l. 14. Harl., can [back]
Note 7. l. 16. Harl., do meet [back]
Note 8. l. 20. Harl., courtesies [back]
Note 9. l. 23. Harl., Shalt [back]
Note 10. l. 25. Harl., and worse [back]
Note 11. l. 27. Harl., monster [back]
Note 12. l. 32. Harl., dost vail [back]
Note 13. l. 33. 1669, till [back]
Note 14. l. 39. So Harl., 1633, barrenness [back]
Note 15. l. 45. Harl., best [back]
Note 16. l. 46. So 1635; Harl., 1633, yet he was [back]
Note 17. l. 47. Harl., now I [back]
Note 18. l. 53. Harl., that hath [back]
Note 19. l. 54. 1650, Worn out [back]
Note 20. l. 58. 1669, The infantry of London, hence to India [back]
Note 21. l. 60. So Harl., 1635; 1633, heaven’s scenes [back]
Note 22. l. 62. Harl., supple-witted; 1669, giddy-headed [back]
Note 23. l. 63. Harl., from hence [back]
Note 24. l. 64. Harl., Whither, why, where [back]
Note 25. l. 68. Harl., Unprovidently [back]
Note 26. l. 70. Harl., a little room [back]
Note 27. l. 70. Harl., 1635, his liberty [back]
Note 28. l. 73. So 1635; 1633, then to him [back]
Note 29. l. 78. So Harl., 1635; 1633, stoopt [back]
Note 30. l. 84. Harl., Yea ’tis he [back]
Note 31. l. 86. Harl., dance too [back]
Note 32. l. 95. So 1635; 1633, S’ all repute [back]
Note 33. l. 97. Harl., cut, print, or pleat [back]
Note 34. l. 100. 1669, stoop’st [back]
Note 35. l. 101. 1669, Why? he hath travelled long, [back]
Note 36. l. 102. 1669, understood [back]
Note 37. l. 108. So Harl., 1635; 1633, to his liberty [back]
Note 38. l. 109. 1650, there were [back]

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