Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Letters to Several Personages
To the Lady Bedford
 
YOU that are she, and you that’s double she,
In her dead face half of yourself shall see.
She was the other part, for so they do
Which build them friendships, become one of two;
So two, that but themselves no third can fit        5
—Which were to be so, when they were not yet
Twins, though their birth Cusco and Musco take—
As divers stars one constellation make,
Pair’d like two eyes have equal motion, so
Both but one means to see, one way to go.        10
Had you died first, a carcase she had been,
And we your rich tomb in her face had seen;
She like the soul is gone, and you here stay,
Not a live friend, but th’ other half of clay.
And since you act that part—as men say, ‘Here        15
Lies such a prince,’ when but one part is there,
And do all honour and devotion due
Unto the whole—so we all reverence you;
For such a friendship who would not adore
In you, who are all what both were before,        20
Not all, as if some perished by this,
But so, as all in you contracted is.
As of this all, though many parts decay,
The pure which elemented them shall stay;
And though diffused, and spread in infinite,        25
Shall re-collect, and in one All unite;
So, madam, as her soul to heaven is fled,
Her flesh rests in the earth, as in the bed;
Her virtues do, as to their proper sphere,
Return to dwell with you, of whom they were.        30
As perfect motions are all circular,
So they to you, their sea, whence less streams are.
She was all spices, you all metals; so
In you two we did both rich Indies know.
And as no fire nor rust can spend or waste        35
One dram of gold, but what was first shall last;
Though it be forced in water, earth, salt, air,
Expansed in infinite, none will impair;
So to yourself you may additions take,
But nothing can you less, or changèd make.        40
Seek not in seeking new to seem to doubt,
That you can match her, or not be without;
But let some faithful book in her room be,
Yet but of Judith no such book as she.
 
 
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