Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
Songs and Sonnets
The Curse
WHOEVER guesses, thinks, or dreams, he knows
Who is my mistress, wither by this curse;
        Him, only for his purse, 1
        May some dull whore 2 to love dispose,
And then yield unto 3 all that are his foes;        5
  May he be scorn’d by one, whom all else scorn,
  Forswear to others, what to her he hath sworn,
  With fear of missing, shame of getting, torn.
Madness his sorrow, gout his cramps, 4 may he
Make, by but thinking who hath made them such; 5        10
        And may he feel no touch
        Of conscience, but of fame, and be
Anguish’d, not that ’twas sin, but that ’twas she;
  Or may he for her virtue reverence
  One that hates him only for impotence,        15
  And equal traitors be she and his sense. 6
May he dream treason, and believe that he
Meant to perform it, and confess, and die,
        And no record tell why;
        His sons, which none of his may be,        20
Inherit nothing but his infamy;
  Or may he so long parasites have fed,
  That he would fain be theirs whom he hath bred,
  And at the last be circumcised for bread.
The venom of all stepdames, gamesters’ gall,        25
What tyrants and their subjects interwish,
        What plants, mine, beasts, fowl, fish,
        Can contribute, all ill, which all
Prophets or poets spake, and all which shall
  Be annex’d in schedules unto this by me,        30
  Fall on that man; for if it be a she
  Nature beforehand hath out-cursèd me.
Note 1. l. 3. So 1669; 1633, His only, and only his purse [back]
Note 2. l. 4. So 1669; 1633, dull heart [back]
Note 3. l. 5. So 1669; 1633, she yield then to [back]
Note 4. l. 9. So 1669; 1633, cramp [back]
Note 5. l. 10. So 1669; 1633, him such [back]
Note 6. ll. 14–16. So 1635; 1633,
  In early and long scarceness may he rot,
For land which had been his, if he had not
Himself incestuously an heir begot.

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