Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
An Elegy
By John Donne (1572–1631)
 
NATURE’S lay idiot, I taught thee to love,
And in that sophistry, O! thou dost prove
Too subtle; fool, thou didst not understand
The mystic language of the eye nor hand;
Nor couldst thou judge the difference of the air        5
Or sighs, and say, “This lies, this sounds despair”;
Nor by th’ eye’s water cast a malady
Desperately hot, or changing feverously.
I had not taught thee then the alphabet
Of flowers, how they, devisefully being set        10
And bound up, might with speechless secrecy
Deliver errands mutely, and mutually.
Remember since all thy words used to be
To every suitor, “Ay, if my friends agree”;
Since household charms, thy husband’s name to teach,        15
Were all the love-tricks that thy wit could reach
And since an hour’s discourse could scarce have made
One answer in thee, and that ill array’d
In broken proverb, and torn sentences.
Thou art not by so many duties his—        20
That from th’ world’s common having sever’d thee,
Inlaid thee, neither to be seen, nor see—
As mine; who have with amorous delicacies
Refined thee into a blissful paradise.
Thy graces and good works my creatures be;        25
I planted knowledge and life’s tree in thee;
Which O! shall strangers taste? Must I, alas!
Frame and enamel plate, and drink in glass?
Chafe wax for other’s seals? break a colt’s force,
And leave him then, being made a ready horse?        30
 
 
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