John Donne

1573-1631


Contents

Death, be not proud
The relic


Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From Rest and Sleep, which but thy picture be,
Much pleasure; then from thee, much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go -
Rest of their bones and souls' delivery!
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!


The relic

When my grave is broke up again
Some second guest to entertain,
- For graves have learn'd that woman-head,
To be to more than one a bed - And he that digs it, spies
A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,
Will not he let us alone,
And think that there a loving couple lies,
Who thought that this device might be some way
To make their souls at the last busy day
Meet at this grave, and make a little stay?

If this fall in a time, or land,
Where mass-devotion doth command,
Then he that digs us will bring
Us to the bishop or the king,
To make us relics; then
Thou shalt be a Mary Magdalen, and I
A something else thereby;
All women should adore us, and some men.
And, since at such time miracles are sought,
I would have that age by this paper taught
What miracles we harmless lovers wrought.

First we loved well and faithfully
Yet knew not what we loved, nor why;
Difference of sex we never knew
No more than guardian angels do;
Coming and going we
Perchance might kiss, but not between those meals;
Our hands ne'er touched the seals,
Which nature, injured by late law, sets free.
These miracles we did, but now alas!
All measure, and all language, I should pass,
Should I tell what a miracle she was.

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