Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Elegies
XII. “Come, Fates; I fear you not!”
 
COME, Fates; I fear you not! All whom I owe
Are paid, but you; then ’rest me ere I go.
But Chance from you all sovereignty hath got;
Love woundeth none but those whom Death dares not;
True if you were, 1 and just in equity,        5
I should have vanquish’d her, as you did me;
Else lovers should not brave Death’s pains, and live;
But ’tis a rule, “Death comes not to relieve.”
Or, pale and wan Death’s terrors, are they laid
So deep in lovers, they make Death afraid?        10
Or—the least comfort—have I company?
O’ercame she Fates, Love, Death, 2 as well as me?
  Yes, Fates do silk unto her distaff pay,
For ransom, which tax they on us do lay.
Love gives her youth—which is the reason why        15
Youths, for her sake, some wither and some die.
Poor Death can nothing give; yet, for her sake,
Still in her turn, he doth a lover take.
And if Death should prove false, she fears him not;
Our Muses, to redeem her, she hath got.        20
That fatal night we last kiss’d, I thus pray’d,
—Or rather, thus despair’d, I should have said—
Kisses, and yet despair! The forbid tree
Did promise (and deceive) no more than she.
Like lambs, that see their teats, and must eat hay,        25
A food, whose taste hath made me pine away.
Dives, when thou saw’st bliss, and craved’st to touch
A drop of water, thy great pains were such.
Here grief wants a fresh wit, for mine being spent,
And my sighs weary, groans are all my rent.        30
Unable longer to endure the pain,
They break like thunder, and do bring down rain.
Thus till dry tears solder my eyes, I weep;
And then, I dream, how you securely sleep,
And in your dreams do laugh at me. I hate,        35
And pray Love all may; he pities my state,
But says, I therein no revenge shall find;
The sun would shine, though all the world were blind.
Yet, to try my hate, Love show’d me your tear;
And I had died, had not your smile been there.        40
Your frown undoes me; your smile is my wealth;
And as you please to look, I have my health.
Methought, Love pitying me, when he saw this,
Gave me your hands, the backs and palms to kiss.
That cured me not, but to bear pain gave strength;        45
And what is lost in force, is took in length.
I call’d on Love again, who fear’d you so,
That his compassion still proved greater woe;
For, then I dream’d I was in bed with you,
But durst not feel, for fear it should not be true.        50
This merits not your 3 anger, had it been;
The queen of chastity was naked seen;
And in bed not to feel, the pain I took,
Was more than for Actæon not to look;
And that breast which lay ope, I did not know,        55
But for the clearness, from a lump of snow;
Nor that sweet teat which on the top it bore
From the rose-bud which for my sake you wore.
These griefs to issue forth, by verse I prove;
Or turn their course by travel and new love.        60
All would not do; the best at last I tried;
Unable longer to hold out, I died.
And then I found I lost life, death by flying;
Who hundreds live, are but so long in dying.
Charon did let me pass; I’ll him requite.        65
To mark the groves or shades wrongs my delight;
I’ll speak but of those ghosts I found alone,
Those 4 thousand ghosts, whereof myself made one,
All images of thee; I asked them why?
The judge told me, all they for thee did die,        70
And therefore had for their Elysian bliss,
In one another their own loves to kiss.
O here I miss’d, not bliss, but being dead;
For lo! I dreamt, I dreamt, and waking said,
“Heaven, if who are in thee there must dwell,        75
How is’t I now was there, and now I fell?”
 
Note 1. l. 5. So 1669; 1635, Else, if you were [back]
Note 2. l. 12. So Haslewood-Kingsborough MS. (giving Fates, Love, Death, in a different order); 1635, Or can the Fates love death [back]
Note 3. l. 51. So Haslewood-Kingsborough MS.; 1635, our [back]
Note 4. l. 68. So Harl. MSS. 3910 and 4064; Addl. MS. 10,309 omits Those [back]
 
 
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