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
The Undertaking
 
I HAVE done one braver thing
  Than all the Worthies did;
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
  Which is, to keep that hid.
 
It were but madness now to impart        5
  The skill of specular stone,
When he, which can have learn’d the art
  To cut it, can find none.
 
So, if I now should utter this,
  Others—because no more        10
Such stuff to work upon, there is—
  Would love but as before.
 
But he who loveliness within
  Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who colour loves, and skin,        15
  Loves but their oldest clothes.
 
If, as I have, you also do
  Virtue in woman see, 1
And dare love that, and say so too,
  And forget the He and She;        20
 
And if this love, though placèd so,
  From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
  Or, if they do, deride;
 
Then you have done a braver thing        25
  Than all the Worthies did;
And a braver thence will spring,
  Which is, to keep that hid.
 
Note 1. l. 18. So 1635; 1633, Virtue attired in woman see [back]
 
 
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