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John Donne (1572–1631). The Poems of John Donne. 1896.


Satire VI. “Men write that love and reason disagree”

MEN write that love and reason disagree,

But I ne’er saw ’t express’d as ’tis in thee.

Well, I may lead thee, God must make thee see,

But, thine eyes blind too, there’s no hope for thee.

Thou say’st she’s wise and witty, fair and free;

All these are reasons why she should scorn thee.

Thou dost protest thy love, and wouldst it show

By matching her as she would match her foe;

And wouldst persuade her to a worse offence,

Than that whereof thou didst accuse her wench.

Reason there’s none for thee, but thou mayst vex

Her with example. Say, for fear her sex

Shun her, she needs must change; I do not see

How reason e’er can bring that ‘must’ to thee.

Thou art a match a justice to rejoice,

Fit to be his, and not his daughter’s choice.

Urged with his threats she’d scarcely stay with thee,

And wouldst thou have this to choose thee, being free?

Go, then, and punish some soon-gotten stuff;

For her dead husband this hath mourn’d enough,

In hating thee. Thou mayst one like this meet;

For spite take her, prove kind, make thy breath sweet,

Let her see she hath cause, and, to bring to thee

Honest children, let her dishonest be.

If she be a widow I’ll warrant her

She’ll thee before her first husband prefer,

And will wish thou hadst had her maidenhead,

She’ll love thee so! for then thou hadst been dead.

But thou such strong love and weak reasons hast,

Thou must thrive there, or ever live disgraced.

Yet pause awhile; and thou mayst live to see

A time to come, wherein she may beg thee.

If thou’lt not pause nor change, she’ll beg thee now,

Do what she can, love for nothing she’ll allow.

Besides, here were too much gain and merchandise,

And when thou art rewarded, desert dies.

Now thou hast odds of him she loves; he may doubt

Her constancy, but none can put thee out.

Again, be thy love true, she’ll prove divine,

And in the end the good on’t will be thine.

For, though thou must ne’er think of other love,

And so wilt advance her as high above

Virtue, as cause above effect can be;

’Tis virtue to be chaste, which she’ll make thee.