Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
By John Donne (1572–1631)
 
AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
‘Now his breath goes,’ and some say ‘No’;
 
So let us meet and make no noise,        5
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move,
’Twere profanation of our joys,
To tell the laity our love.
 
Moving of th’ Earth brings harm and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant;        10
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
 
Dull sublunary lovers’ love,
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove        15
The thing which elemented it.
 
But we by a love so far refin’d,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Careless eyes, lips, and hands, to miss;        20
 
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
 
If they be two, they are two so        25
As stiff twin compasses are two,
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.
 
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,        30
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect as that comes home.
 
Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run,
Thy firmness makes my circle just,        35
And makes me end where I begun.
 
 
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