Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Songs and Sonnets
A Fever
 
O! DO not die, for I shall hate
  All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
  When I remember thou wast one.
 
But yet thou canst not die, I know;        5
  To leave this world behind, is death;
But when thou from this world wilt go,
  The whole world vapours with thy breath. 1
 
Or if, when thou, the world’s soul, go’st,
  It stay, ’tis but thy carcase then;        10
The fairest woman, but thy ghost,
  But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.
 
O wrangling schools, that search what fire
  Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,        15
  That this her fever might be it?
 
And yet she cannot waste by this,
  Nor long bear 2 this torturing wrong,
For more corruption needful is,
  To fuel such a fever long.        20
 
These burning fits but meteors be,
  Whose matter in thee is soon 3 spent;
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee,
  Are 4 unchangeable firmament.
 
Yet ’twas of 5 my mind, seizing thee,        25
  Though it in thee cannot perséver;
For 6 I had rather owner be
  Of thee one hour, than all else ever.
 
Note 1. l. 8. 1669, in thy breath [back]
Note 2. l. 18. 1669, endure [back]
Note 3. l. 22. 1669, soon is [back]
Note 4. l. 24. 1669, An [back]
Note 5. l. 25. 1669, And here as [back]
Note 6. l. 27. 1669, Yet, [back]
 
 
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