Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Epigrams
 
Hero and Leander
BOTH robb’d of air, we both lie in one ground;
Both whom one fire had burnt, one water drown’d.
 
Pyramus and Thisbe
Two, by themselves, each other, love and fear,
Slain, cruel friends, by parting have join’d here.
 
Niobe
By children’s births, and death, I am become
        5
So dry, that I am now mine own sad tomb.
 
A Burnt Ship
Out of a fired ship, which by no way
But drowning could be rescued from the flame,
Some men leap’d forth, and ever as they came
Near the foes’ ships, did by their shot decay;        10
So all were lost, which in the ship were found,
  They in the sea being burnt, they in the burnt ship drowned.
 
Fall of a Wall
Under an undermined and shot-bruised wall
A too-bold captain perish’d by the fall,
Whose brave misfortune happiest men envied,        15
That had a town for tomb, 1 his bones to hide.
 
A Lame Beggar
I am unable, yonder beggar cries,
To stand, or move; if he say true, he lies.
 
A Self-Accuser
Your mistress, that you follow whores, still taxeth you;
’Tis strange that she should thus confess it, though ’t be true.        20
 
A Licentious Person
Thy sins and hairs may no man equal call;
For, as thy sins increase, thy hairs do fall.
 
Antiquary
If in his study he hath so much care
To hang all old strange things, let his wife beware.
 
Disinherited
Thy father all from thee, by his last will,
        25
Gave to the poor; thou hast good title still.
 
Phryne
Thy flattering picture, Phryne, is like thee, 2
Only in this, that you both painted be.
 
An Obscure Writer
Philo with twelve years’ study hath been grieved
To be understood; when will he be believed?        30
 
[Klockius]
Klockius so deeply hath sworn ne’er more to come
In bawdy house, that he dares not go home.
 
Raderus
Why this man gelded Martial I muse, 3
Except himself alone his tricks would use,
As Katherine, for the court’s sake, put down stews.        35
 
Mercurius Gallo-Belgicus
Like Esop’s fellow-slaves, O Mercury,
Which could do all things, thy faith is; and I
Like Esop’s self, which nothing. I confess
I should have had more faith, if thou hadst less.
Thy credit lost thy credit. ’Tis sin to do,        40
In this case, as thou wouldst be done unto,
To believe all. Change thy name; thou art like
Mercury in stealing, but liest like a Greek.
 
[Ralphius]
Compassion in the world again is bred;
Ralphius is sick, the broker keeps his bed.        45
 
Note 1. 1635, towre for tomb [back]
Note 2. 1650, like to thee [back]
Note 3. 1669, I amuse [back]
 
 
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