Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
172. Love’s Deity
John Donne (1573–1631)
I LONG to talk with some old lover’s ghost,
  Who died before the god of love was born:
I cannot think that he, that then loved most,
  Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn.
But since this god produced a destiny,        5
And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be,
I must love her that loves not me.
Sure they which made him god meant not so much,
  Nor he in his young godhead practised it;
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,        10
  His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to passives; correspondency
Only his subject was; it cannot be
Love, if I love who loves not me.
But every modern god will now extend        15
  His vast prerogative as far as Jove;
To rage, to lust, to write too, to commend;
  All is the purlieu of the god of love.
O were we wakened by his tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be        20
I should love her that loves not me.
Rebel and atheist, too, why murmur I,
  As though I felt the worst that love could do?
Love may make me leave loving, or might try
  A deeper plague, to make her love me too,        25
Which, since she loves before, I am loath to see,
Falsehood is worse than hate; and that must be,
If she whom I love should love me.


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