Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Appendix B. Poems hitherto Uncollected
On Friendship
 
FRIENDSHIP on earth we may as easily find,
As he the North-west passage that is blind;
It’s not unlike th’ imaginary stone,
That tatter’d chemists long have doted on.
Sophisticate affection’s not the best,        5
The world affords few friends will bide the test;
They’ll make a glorious show a little space,
But tarnish in the rain, like copper lace;
Or, melted in affliction, in one day
They’ll smoke and stink and vapour quite away.        10
We miss the true materials, choosing friends;
On virtue we project not, but our ends.
So by desert, while we embrace too many,
We courted are like ——, not loved by any.
Good deeds ill placed, which we on most men heap,        15
Are seeds of that ingratitude we reap;
For he that is so sweet, that none denies,
Is made of honey for the nimble flies.
    Choose one or two companions for thy life
    But be as true, as thou wouldst have thy wife.        20
    Though he lives joyless, that enjoys no friend,
    He, that has many, pays for ’t in the end.
 
 
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