Donnes gedichten

Hier vindt u de oorspronkelijke Engelse gedichten van John Donne, waarvan vertalingen of besprekingen op de website staan.
Voor een compleet overzicht van zijn werk, zie
De gedichten zijn alfabetisch gerangschikt.


by John Donne

In een notendop

De geliefde heeft de dichter geminacht, en hij zegt dat hij na zijn dood aan haar bed zal verschijnen als spook. Als ze dan hulp vraagt aan haar nieuwe geliefde, die naast haar ligt, zal deze zich van haar afwenden, denkend dat ze alleen maar meer wil knuffelen. Hij laat doorschemeren dat hij iets tegen haar wil zeggen, maar dat het nog te vroeg is. Hij dringt er bij haar op aan om nu berouw te tonen, wat beter is dan later zijn toorn als spook te moeten ondergaan.

WHEN by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead, 
And that thou thinkst thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see :
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tired before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
          Thou call'st for more,
And, in false sleep, will from thee shrink :
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bathed in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie,
          A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee ; and since my love is spent,
I'd rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threatenings rest still innocent.

(zie vertalingen van The Apparition hier)

Zie bespreking van het gedicht hier


by John Donne

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
And having done that, Thou hast done ;
I fear no more.

(zie vertalingen van A Hymn to God The Father hier)


by John Donne

‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be? 
O wilt thou therefore rise from me? 
Why should we rise because ‘tis light? 
Did we lie down because ‘twas night? 
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither, 
Should in despite of light keep us together. 

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye; 
If it could speak as well as spy, 
This were the worst that it could say, 
That being well I fain would stay, 
And that I loved my heart and honour so, 
That I would not from him, that had them, go. 

Must business thee from hence remove? 
Oh, that’s the worst disease of love, 
The poor, the foul, the false, love can 
Admit, but not the busied man. 
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do 
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo. 

DAYBREAK (of: Stay, O sweet, and do not rise)

by John Donne


Een 'Song', in  1612 gedrukt in John Dowlands A Pilgrim Solace , als de eerste strofe van een gedicht in twee coupletten; als alleenstaand gedicht verscheen het in Orlando Gibbons' Madrigals and Motets uit 1612. In 1669 werd het gedrukt als de eerste strofe van 'Break of Day' (p. 35 ). 

STAY, O sweet, and do not rise ;
The light that shines comes from thine eyes ;
The day breaks not, it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
    Stay, or else my joys will die,
    And perish in their infancy.


by John Donne

    LITTLE think'st thou, poor flower,
    Whom I've watch'd six or seven days,
And seen thy birth, and seen what every hour
Gave to thy growth, thee to this height to raise,
And now dost laugh and triumph on this bough,
              Little think'st thou,
That it will freeze anon, and that I shall
To-morrow find thee fallen, or not at all.

    Little think'st thou, poor heart,
    That labourest yet to nestle thee,
And think'st by hovering here to get a part
In a forbidden or forbidding tree,
And hopest her stiffness by long siege to bow,
              Little think'st thou
That thou to-morrow, ere the sun doth wake,
Must with the sun and me a journey take.

    But thou, which lovest to be
    Subtle to plague thyself, wilt say,
Alas ! if you must go, what's that to me?
Here lies my business, and here I will stay
You go to friends, whose love and means present
              Various content
To your eyes, ears, and taste, and every part ;
If then your body go, what need your heart?

    Well then, stay here ; but know,
    When thou hast stay'd and done thy most,
A naked thinking heart, that makes no show,
Is to a woman but a kind of ghost.
How shall she know my heart ; or having none,
              Know thee for one?
Practice may make her know some other part ;
But take my word, she doth not know a heart.

    Meet me in London, then,
    Twenty days hence, and thou shalt see
Me fresher and more fat, by being with men,
Than if I had stay'd still with her and thee.
For God's sake, if you can, be you so too ;
              I will give you
There to another friend, whom we shall find
As glad to have my body as my mind.


by John Donne

He is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash of powder burn a day?

Ah, what a trifle is a heart,
If once into love's hands it come !
All other griefs allow a part
To other griefs, and ask themselves but some ;
They come to us, but us love draws ;
He swallows us and never chaws ;
By him, as by chain'd shot, whole ranks do die ;
He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry.

If 'twere not so, what did become
Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
But from the room I carried none with me.
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
More pity unto me ; but Love, alas !
At one first blow did shiver it as glass.

Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Nor any place be empty quite ;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite ;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
But after one such love, can love no more.

(zie vertalingen van The Broken Heart hier)


by John Donne

OUR storm is past, and that storm's tyrannous rage
A stupid calm, but nothing it, doth 'suage.
The fable is inverted, and far more
A block afflicts, now, than a stork before.
Storms chafe, and soon wear out themselves, or us ;
In calms, Heaven laughs to see us languish thus.
As steady as I could wish my thoughts were,
Smooth as thy mistress' glass, or what shines there,
The sea is now, and, as these isles which we
Seek, when we can move, our ships rooted be.
As water did in storms, now pitch runs out ;
As lead, when a fired church becomes one spout.
And all our beauty and our trim decays,
Like courts removing, or like ended plays.
The fighting-place now seamen's rags supply ;
And all the tackling is a frippery.
No use of lanthorns ; and in one place lay
Feathers and dust, to-day and yesterday.
Earth's hollownesses, which the world's lungs are,
Have no more wind than th' upper vault of air.
We can nor lost friends nor sought foes recover,
But meteor-like, save that we move not, hover.
Only the calenture together draws
Dear friends, which meet dead in great fishes' maws ;
And on the hatches, as on altars, lies
Each one, his own priest and own sacrifice.
Who live, that miracle do multiply,
Where walkers in hot ovens do not die.
If in despite of these we swim, that hath
No more refreshing than a brimstone bath ;
But from the sea into the ship we turn,
Like parboil'd wretches, on the coals to burn.
Like Bajazet encaged, the shepherds' scoff,
Or like slack-sinew'd Samson, his hair off,
Languish our ships. Now as a myriad
Of ants durst th' emperor's loved snake invade,
The crawling gallies, sea-gulls, finny chips,
Might brave our pinnaces, now bed-rid ships.
Whether a rotten state, and hope of gain,
Or to disuse me from the queasy pain
Of being beloved and loving, or the thirst
Of honour or fair death, out-push'd me first,
I lose my end ; for here, as well as I,
A desperate may live, and coward die.
Stag, dog, and all which from or towards flies,
Is paid with life or prey, or doing dies.
Fate grudges us all, and doth subtly lay
A scourge, 'gainst which we all forget to pray.
He that at sea prays for more wind, as well
Under the poles may beg cold, heat in hell.
What are we then ? How little more, alas,
Is man now, than, before he was, he was ?
Nothing for us, we are for nothing fit ;
Chance, or ourselves, still disproportion it.
We have no power, no will, no sense ; I lie,
I should not then thus feel this misery.


by John Donne

FOR God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout ;
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve ;
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honour, or his Grace ;
Or the king's real, or his stamp'd face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

Alas ! alas ! who's injured by my love?
What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?
Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
When did the heats which my veins fill
Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
Litigious men, which quarrels move,
Though she and I do love.

Call's what you will, we are made such by love ;
Call her one, me another fly,
We're tapers too, and at our own cost die,
And we in us find th' eagle and the dove.
The phoenix riddle hath more wit
By us ; we two being one, are it ;
So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit.
We die and rise the same, and prove
Mysterious by this love.

We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tomb or hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse ;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms ;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for love ;

And thus invoke us, "You, whom reverend love
Made one another's hermitage ;
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage ;
Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove
Into the glasses of your eyes ;
So made such mirrors, and such spies,
That they did all to you epitomize—
Countries, towns, courts beg from above
A pattern of your love."

(zie vertalingen van The Canonization hier)


by John Donne

DEAR love, for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream ;
                It was a theme
For reason, much too strong for fantasy.
Therefore thou waked'st me wisely ; yet 
My dream thou brokest not, but continued'st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths, and fables histories ;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought'st it best,
Not to dream all my dream, let's act the rest.
As lightning, or a taper's light,
Thine eyes, and not thy noise waked me ;
                Yet I thought thee
—For thou lovest truth—an angel, at first sight ;
But when I saw thou saw'st my heart,
And knew'st my thoughts beyond an angel's art,
When thou knew'st what I dreamt, when thou knew'st when
Excess of joy would wake me, and camest then,
I must confess, it could not choose but be
Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.

Coming and staying show'd thee, thee,
But rising makes me doubt, that now
                Thou art not thou.
That love is weak where fear's as strong as he ;
'Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have ;
Perchance as torches, which must ready be,
Men light and put out, so thou deal'st with me ;
Thou camest to kindle, go'st to come ; then I
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.


by John Donne

WHERE, like a pillow on a bed, 
    A pregnant bank swell'd up, to rest 
The violet's reclining head, 
    Sat we two, one another's best. 

Our hands were firmly cemented 
    By a fast balm, which thence did spring ; 
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread 
    Our eyes upon one double string. 

So to engraft our hands, as yet 
    Was all the means to make us one ; 
And pictures in our eyes to get 
    Was all our propagation. 

As, 'twixt two equal armies, Fate 
    Suspends uncertain victory, 
Our souls—which to advance their state, 
    Were gone out—hung 'twixt her and me. 

And whilst our souls negotiate there, 
    We like sepulchral statues lay ; 
All day, the same our postures were, 
    And we said nothing, all the day. 

If any, so by love refined, 
    That he soul's language understood, 
And by good love were grown all mind, 
    Within convenient distance stood, 

He—though he knew not which soul spake, 
    Because both meant, both spake the same— 
Might thence a new concoction take, 
    And part far purer than he came. 

This ecstasy doth unperplex 
    (We said) and tell us what we love ; 
We see by this, it was not sex ; 
    We see, we saw not, what did move : 

But as all several souls contain 
    Mixture of things they know not what, 
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again, 
    And makes both one, each this, and that. 

A single violet transplant, 
    The strength, the colour, and the size— 
All which before was poor and scant— 
    Redoubles still, and multiplies. 

When love with one another so 
    Interanimates two souls, 
That abler soul, which thence doth flow, 
    Defects of loneliness controls. 

We then, who are this new soul, know, 
    Of what we are composed, and made, 
For th' atomies of which we grow 
    Are souls, whom no change can invade. 

But, O alas ! so long, so far, 
    Our bodies why do we forbear? 
They are ours, though not we ; we are 
    Th' intelligences, they the spheres. 

We owe them thanks, because they thus 
    Did us, to us, at first convey, 
Yielded their senses' force to us, 
    Nor are dross to us, but allay. 

On man heaven's influence works not so, 
    But that it first imprints the air ; 
For soul into the soul may flow, 
    Though it to body first repair. 

As our blood labours to beget 
    Spirits, as like souls as it can ; 
Because such fingers need to knit 
    That subtle knot, which makes us man ; 

So must pure lovers' souls descend 
    To affections, and to faculties, 
Which sense may reach and apprehend, 
    Else a great prince in prison lies. 

To our bodies turn we then, that so 
    Weak men on love reveal'd may look ; 
Love's mysteries in souls do grow, 
    But yet the body is his book. 

And if some lover, such as we, 
    Have heard this dialogue of one, 
Let him still mark us, he shall see 
    Small change when we're to bodies gone.


by John Donne

O, LET me not serve so, as those men serve,
Whom honour's smokes at once fatten and starve,
Poorly enrich'd with great men's words or looks ;
Nor so write my name in thy loving books
As those idolatrous flatterers, which still
Their princes' style with many realms fulfil,
Whence they no tribute have, and where no sway.
Such services I offer as shall pay
Themselves ; I hate dead names. O, then let me
Favourite in ordinary, or no favourite be.
When my soul was in her own body sheathed,
Nor yet by oaths betroth'd, nor kisses breathed
Into my purgatory, faithless thee,
Thy heart seemed wax, and steel thy constancy.
So, careless flowers strew'd on the water's face
The curled whirlpools suck, smack, and embrace,
Yet drown them ; so the taper's beamy eye
Amorously twinkling beckons the giddy fly,
Yet burns his wings ; and such the devil is,
Scarce visiting them who are entirely his.
When I behold a stream, which from the spring
Doth with doubtful melodious murmuring,
Or in a speechless slumber, calmly ride
Her wedded channel's bosom, and there chide,
And bend her brows, and swell, if any bough
Do but stoop down to kiss her upmost brow ;
Yet, if her often gnawing kisses win
The traitorous banks to gape, and let her in,
She rusheth violently, and doth divorce
Her from her native and her long-kept course,
And roars, and braves it, and in gallant scorn,
In flattering eddies promising return,
She flouts her channel, which thenceforth is dry ;
Then say I ; "That is she, and this am I."
Yet let not thy deep bitterness beget
Careless despair in me, for that will whet
My mind to scorn ; and O, love dull'd with pain
Was ne'er so wise, nor well arm'd, as disdain.
Then with new eyes I shall survey thee, and spy
Death in thy cheeks, and darkness in thine eye,
Though hope bred faith and love ; thus taught, I shall,
As nations do from Rome, from thy love fall ;
My hate shall outgrow thine, and utterly
I will renounce thy dalliance ; and when I
Am the recusant, in that resolute state
What hurts it me to be excommunicate?

voor de vertaling van Huygens klik hier


by John Donne

By our first strange and fatal interview,
By all desires which thereof did ensue,
By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
Which my words masculine persuasive force
Begot in thee, and by the memory
Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten'd me,
I calmly beg.   But by thy father's wrath,
By all pains, which want and divorcement hath,
I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I
And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,
Here I unswear, and overswear them thus ;
Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.
Temper, O fair love, love's impetuous rage ;
Be my true mistress still, not my feign'd page.
I'll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind
Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind
Thirst to come back ; O ! if thou die before,
My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.
Thy else almighty beauty cannot move
Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,
Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness ; thou hast read
How roughly he in pieces shivered
Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.
Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have proved
Dangers unurged ; feed on this flattery,
That absent lovers one in th' other be.
Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change
Thy body's habit, nor mind ; be not strange
To thyself only.   All will spy in thy face
A blushing womanly discovering grace.
Richly clothed apes are call'd apes, and as soon
Eclipsed as bright, we call the moon the moon.
Men of France, changeable chameleons,
Spitals of diseases, shops of fashions,
Love's fuellers, and the rightest company
Of players, which upon the world's stage be,
Will quickly know thee, and no less, alas !
Th' indifferent Italian, as we pass
His warm land, well content to think thee page,
Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,
As Lot's fair guests were vex'd.   But none of these
Nor spongy hydroptic Dutch shall thee displease,
If thou stay here.  O stay here, for for thee
England is only a worthy gallery,
To walk in expectation, till from thence
Our greatest king call thee to his presence.
When I am gone, dream me some happiness ;
Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess ;
Nor praise, nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse
Openly love's force, nor in bed fright thy nurse
With midnight's startings, crying out, O ! O !
Nurse, O ! my love is slain ; I saw him go
O'er the white Alps alone ; I saw him, I,
Assail'd, fight, taken, stabb'd, bleed, fall, and die.
Augur me better chance, except dread Jove
Think it enough for me to have had thy love.

(zie vertalingen van Elegy XVI hier)


by John Donne

In een notendop

Doorheen het gedicht tracht Donnes vermoedelijk mannelijke spreker zijn beminde in bed te krijgen. Hij beschrijft hartstochtelijk hoe hij haar uitkleedt en streelt, en aan het eind onthult de spreker dat hij volledig is ontkleed, hoewel onduidelijk blijft of de vrouw zich intussen ook heeft uitgekleed. Mogelijk beschrijft  de spreker alleen maar wat haar uitkleden voor een ervaring zou kunnen zijn.

COME, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ; 
Until I labour, I in labour lie. 
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight, 
Is tired with standing, though he never fight. 
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering, 
But a far fairer world encompassing. 
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear, 
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there. 
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime 
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time. 
Off with that happy busk, which I envy, 
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh. 
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals, 
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals. 
Off with your wiry coronet, and show 
The hairy diadems which on you do grow. 
Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread 
In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed. 
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be 
Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee 
A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though 
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know 
By this these angels from an evil sprite ; 
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright. 
    Licence my roving hands, and let them go 
Before, behind, between, above, below. 
O, my America, my Newfoundland, 
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd, 
My mine of precious stones, my empery ; 
How am I blest in thus discovering thee ! 
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ; 
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be. 
    Full nakedness !  All joys are due to thee ; 
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be 
To taste whole joys.   Gems which you women use 
Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ; 
That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem, 
His earthly soul might court that, not them. 
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made 
For laymen, are all women thus array'd. 
Themselves are only mystic books, which we 
—Whom their imputed grace will dignify—
Must see reveal'd.   Then, since that I may know, 
As liberally as to thy midwife show 
Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ; 
There is no penance due to innocence : 
To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then, 
What needst thou have more covering than a man? 


by John Donne

In een notendop

Wanneer een vlo van hem naar een vrouw overspringt, betoogt de spreker dat ze nu de liefde zouden moeten bedrijven; hun bloed is immers al in de vlo vermengd. Bovendien prikte de vlo haar zonder haar eerst het hof te moeten maken. Als het vermengen van hun bloed geen zonde is, waarom zou het dan zonde zijn als ze met hem wilde vrijen?

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, 
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

(zie vertalingen van The Flea hier)


by John Donne

In een notendop

Op de dag dat christenen de kruisiging van Jezus gedenken, reist de dichter naar het westen, maar denkt aan het Heilige Land in het oosten. Hij kan zich nauwelijks voorstellen om met zijn eigen ogen Jezus te zien sterven aan het kruis, en daarom richt hij voor een ogenblik zijn gedachten op Maria. Naar het Westen reizend, is zijn rug naar het oosten gekeerd. Daarom roept hij de goddelijke barmhartigheid en genade aan om hem te reinigen van zijn zonde, zodat hij zich in staat acht om zijn gezicht terug te keren naar God.

LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this, 
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is ; 
And as the other spheres, by being grown 
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own, 
And being by others hurried every day, 
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ; 
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit 
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.
Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul's form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face. 


by John Donne

In een notendop

"The Good-Morrow" is geschreven vanuit het perspectief van een ontwakende minnaar. Het beschrijft de gedachten van de minnaar als hij wakker wordt naast zijn partner. Hij reflecteert op de zinnelijke liefde en de spirituele liefde en realiseert zich dat spirituele liefde het liefdespaar verlost van zijn angsten en de noodzaak om avontuur te zoeken. Het gedicht verwijst naar bijbelse en andere katholieke teksten, zoals naar de legende van de zeven slapers en apostel Paulus' beschrijving van de goddelijke liefde en agape.

I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean'd till then ?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den ?
'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

(zie vertalingen van The Good-Morrow hier)



by John Donne


De Heilige Sonnetten, ook wel de Goddelijke Meditaties en de Goddelijke Sonnetten genoemd, zijn een reeks van negentien gedichten. Ze werden nooit gepubliceerd tijdens Donnes leven, maar op grote schaal in handschrift verspreid. De Holy Sonnets behoren tot Donnes populairste gedichten. Ze werden geschreven in de periode 1609-1610, toen Donne leed onder grote fysieke, emotionele en financiële problemen. Ook voor de dichter was het een periode van religieuze onrust: oorspronkelijk was hij een rooms-katholiek, en hij trad pas officieel toe tot de Anglicaanse kerk in 1615. De Heilige Sonnetten weerspiegelen deze angsten.


THOU hast made me, and shall Thy work decay ?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste ;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way ;
Despair behind, and Death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again ;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart. 

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet I hier)


AS due by many titles I resign
Myself to thee, O God. First I was made
By Thee ; and for Thee, and when I was decay'd
Thy blood bought that, the which before was Thine.
I am Thy son, made with Thyself to shine,
Thy servant, whose pains Thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheep, Thine image, and—till I betray'd
Myself—a temple of Thy Spirit divine.
Why doth the devil then usurp on me ?
Why doth he steal, nay ravish, that's Thy right ?
Except Thou rise and for Thine own work fight,
O ! I shall soon despair, when I shall see
That Thou lovest mankind well, yet wilt not choose me,
And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet II hier)


O ! might those sighs and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourn'd in vain.
In mine idolatry what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste ? what griefs my heart did rent ?
That sufferance was my sin, I now repent ;
'Cause I did suffer, I must suffer pain.
Th' hydroptic drunkard, and night-scouting thief,
The itchy lecher, and self-tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joys, for relief
Of coming ills. To poor me is allow'd
No ease ; for long, yet vehement grief hath been
Th' effect and cause, the punishment and sin.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet III hier)


O, my black soul, now thou art summoned
By sickness, Death's herald and champion ;
Thou'rt like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he's fled ;
Or like a thief, which till death's doom be read,
Wisheth himself deliver'd from prison,
But damn'd and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack ;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin ?
O, make thyself with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin ;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might,
That being red, it dyes red souls to white. 

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet IV hier)


I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements, and an angelic sprite ;
But black sin hath betray'd to endless night
My world's both parts, and, O, both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new land can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it if it must be drown'd no more.
But O, it must be burnt ; alas ! the fire
Of lust and envy burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler ; let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of Thee and Thy house, which doth in eating heal.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet V hier)


This is my play's last scene ; here heavens appoint
My pilgrimage's last mile ; and my race
Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace ;
My span's last inch, my minute's latest point ;
And gluttonous Death will instantly unjoint
My body and soul, and I shall sleep a space ;
But my ever-waking part shall see that face,
Whose fear already shakes my every joint.
Then, as my soul to heaven her first seat takes flight,
And earth-born body in the earth shall dwell,
So fall my sins, that all may have their right,
To where they're bred and would press me to hell.
Impute me righteous, thus purged of evil,
For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet VI hier)


At the round earth's imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go ;
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,
All whom war, dea[r]th, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you, whose eyes
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space ;
For, if above all these my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent, for that's as good
As if Thou hadst seal'd my pardon with Thy blood.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet VII hier)


If faithful souls be alike glorified
As angels, then my father's soul doth see,
And adds this even to full felicity,
That valiantly I hell's wide mouth o'erstride.
But if our minds to these souls be descried
By circumstances, and by signs that be
Apparent in us not immediately,
How shall my mind's white truth by them be tried ?
They see idolatrous lovers weep and mourn,
And stile blasphemous conjurers to call
On Jesu's name, and pharisaical
Dissemblers feign devotion. Then turn,
O pensive soul, to God, for He knows best
Thy grief, for He put it into my breast.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet VIII hier)


If poisonous minerals, and if that tree,
Whose fruit threw death on (else immortal) us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot be damn'd, alas ! why should I be ?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous ?
And, mercy being easy, and glorious
To God, in His stern wrath why threatens He ?
But who am I, that dare dispute with Thee ?
O God, O ! of Thine only worthy blood,
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown in it my sin's black memory.
That Thou remember them, some claim as debt ;
I think it mercy if Thou wilt forget.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet IX hier)

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[s] be, 
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow, 
And soonest our best men with thee do go, 
Rest of their bones, and soul's 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. 

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet X hier)


Spit in my face you Jewes, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoffe, scourge, and crucifie mee,
For I have sinn’d, and sinn’d, and onely hee,
Who could do no iniquitie, hath dyed:
But by my death can not be satisfied
My sinnes, which passé the Jewes impiety:
They kill’d once an inglorious man, but I
Crucifie him daily, being now glorified;
Oh let mee then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came cloth’d in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainfull intent:
God cloth’d himselfe in vile mans flesh, that so
Hee might be weake enough to suffer woe.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XI hier)


Why are wee by all creatures waited on?
Why doe the prodigall elements supply
Life and food to mee, being more pure then I,
Simple, and further from corruption?
Why brook’st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?
Why dost thou bull, and bore so seelily
Dissemble weaknesse, and by’one mans stroke die,
Whose whole kinde, you might swallow and feed upon?
Weaker I am, woe is mee, and worse than you,
You have not sinn’d nor need be timorous,
But wonder at a greater wonder, for to us
Created nature doth these things subdue,
But their Creator, whom sin, nor nature tyed,
For us, his Creatures, and his foes, hath dyed.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XII hier)


What if this present were the worlds last night?
Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether his countenance can thee affright,
Teares in his eyes quench the amasing light,
Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc’d head fell
And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,
Which pray’d forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
No, no; but as in my idolatrie
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pitty, foulnesse onely is
A signe of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign’d,
This beauteous forme assumes a pitious minde.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XIII hier)


Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee, ’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue,
Yet dearely’I love you, ’and would be lov’d faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie,
Divorce mee, ’untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XIV hier)


Wilt thou love God, as he thee! then digest,
My Soule, this wholsome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy Brest,
The Father having begot a Sonne most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne’r begonne)
Hath deign’d to chuse thee by adoption,
Coheire to’his glory, ’and Sabbaths endless rest;
And as a robb’d man, which by search doth finde
His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy’it againe:
The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine,
Us whom he’had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde.
‘Twas much, that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XV hier)


Father, part of his double interest
Unto thy kingdome, the Sonne gives to mee,
His joynture in the knottie Trinitie,
Hee keepes, and gives to me his deaths conquest.
This Lambe, whose death, with life the world hath blest,
Was from the worlds beginning slaine, and he
Hath made two Wills, which with the Legacie
Of his and thy kingdome, doe thy Sonnes invest,
Yet such are these laws, that men argue yet
Whether a man those statutes can fulfill;
None doth, but thy all-healing grace and spirit
Revive again what law and letter kill.
Thy lawes abridgement, and thy last command
Is all but love; Oh let this last Will stand!

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XVI hier)


Since she whom I lov’d hath payd her last debt
To Nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,
And her Soule early into heaven ravished,
Wholly on heavenly things my mind is sett.
Here the admyring her my mind did whett
To seeke thee God; so streames do shew their head;
But thou I have found thee, and thou my thirst has fed,
A holy thirsty dropsy melts mee yett.
But why should I begg more Love, when as thou
Dost, wooe my soule for hers; offring all thine:
And dost not only feare least I allow
My Love to Saints and Angels things divine,
But in thy tender jealosy dost doubt
Least the World, Fleshe, yea Devill putt thee out.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XVII hier)


Show me deare Christ, thy Spouse, so bright and clear.
What! is it she, which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? or which rob’d and tore
Laments and mournes in Germany and here?
Sleepes she a thousand, then peepes up one yeare?
Is she selfe truth and errs? now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seaven, or on no hill appeare?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travaile we to seeke and then make Love?
Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights,
And let myne amorous soule court thy mild Dove,
Who is most trew, and pleasing to thee, then
When she’is embrac’d and open to most men.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XVIII hier)


Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one:
Inconstancy unnaturally hath begott
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vowes, and in devotione.
As humorous is my contritione
As my prophane Love, and as soone forgott:
As ridlingly distempered, cold and hott,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view heaven yesterday; and to day
In prayers, and flattering speaches I court God:
To morrow I quake with true feare of his rod.
So my devout fitts come and go away
Like a fantastique Ague: save that here
Those are my best dayes, when I shake with feare.

(zie vertalingen van Holy Sonnet XIX hier)


by John Donne

WHEN last I died, and, dear, I die 
As often as from thee I go, 
Though it be but an hour ago
—And lovers' hours be full eternity—
I can remember yet, that I 
Something did say, and something did bestow ;
Though I be dead, which sent me, I might be 
Mine own executor, and legacy.

I heard me say, "Tell her anon, 
That myself," that is you, not I, 
" Did kill me," and when I felt me die,
I bid me send my heart, when I was gone ;
But I alas ! could there find none ;
When I had ripp'd, and search'd where hearts should lie,
It kill'd me again, that I who still was true
In life, in my last will should cozen you.

Yet I found something like a heart, 
But colours it, and corners had ;
It was not good, it was not bad,
It was entire to none, and few had part ;
As good as could be made by art 
It seem'd, and therefore for our loss be sad.
I meant to send that heart instead of mine, 
But O ! no man could hold it, for 'twas thine.


by John Donne

I LONG to talk with some old lover's ghost,
    Who died before the god of love was born.
I cannot think that he, who then loved most,
    Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn.
But since this god produced a destiny,
And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be,
    I must love her that loves not me.

Sure, they which made him god, meant not so much,
    Nor he in his young godhead practised it.
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,
    His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to passives. Correspondency
Only his subject was ; it cannot be
    Love, till I love her, who loves me.

But every modern god will now extend
    His vast prerogative as far as Jove.
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend,
    All is the purlieu of the god of love.
O ! were we waken'd by this tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be
    I should love her, who loves not me.

Rebel and atheist too, why murmur I,
    As though I felt the worst that love could do?
Love might make me leave loving, or might try
    A deeper plague, to make her love me too ;
Which, since she loves before, I'm loth to see.
Falsehood is worse than hate ; and that must be,
    If she whom I love, should love me.


by John Donne

In een notendop

De dichter klaagt dat zijn geliefde zich nog niet helemaal aan hem heeft overgegeven, ondanks al zijn inspanningen. Ze zou nu of later geen liefde voor anderen moeten opsparen. Hij wil wel dat zij iets van haar liefde in reserve houdt, zodat ze kunnen genieten van een steeds hechter wordende relatie.

IF yet I have not all thy love,
Dear, I shall never have it all ;
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can intreat one other tear to fall ;
And all my treasure, which should purchase thee,
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters I have spent ;
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant.
If then thy gift of love were partial,
That some to me, some should to others fall,
Dear, I shall never have thee all.

Or if then thou gavest me all,
All was but all, which thou hadst then ;
But if in thy heart since there be or shall
New love created be by other men,
Which have their stocks entire, and can in tears,
In sighs, in oaths, and letters, outbid me,
This new love may beget new fears,
For this love was not vow'd by thee.
And yet it was, thy gift being general ;
The ground, thy heart, is mine ; what ever shall
Grow there, dear, I should have it all.

Yet I would not have all yet.
He that hath all can have no more ;
And since my love doth every day admit
New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store ;
Thou canst not every day give me thy heart,
If thou canst give it, then thou never gavest it ;
Love's riddles are, that though thy heart depart,
It stays at home, and thou with losing savest it ;
But we will have a way more liberal,
Than changing hearts, to join them ; so we shall
Be one, and one another's all.

(zie vertalingen van Lovers' Infiniteness hier)



by John Donne

Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids
Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;
I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;
Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?
Is not our mistress, fair Religion,
As worthy of all our souls' devotion
As virtue was in the first blinded age?
Are not heaven's joys as valiant to assuage
Lusts, as earth's honour was to them? Alas,
As we do them in means, shall they surpass
Us in the end? and shall thy father's spirit
Meet blind philosophers in heaven, whose merit
Of strict life may be imputed faith, and hear
Thee, whom he taught so easy ways and near
To follow, damn'd? Oh, if thou dar'st, fear this;
This fear great courage and high valour is.
Dar'st thou aid mutinous Dutch, and dar'st thou lay
Thee in ships' wooden sepulchres, a prey
To leaders' rage, to storms, to shot, to dearth?
Dar'st thou dive seas, and dungeons of the earth?
Hast thou courageous fire to thaw the ice
Of frozen North discoveries? and thrice
Colder than salamanders, like divine
Children in th' oven, fires of Spain and the Line,
Whose countries limbecs to our bodies be,
Canst thou for gain bear? and must every he
Which cries not, "Goddess," to thy mistress, draw
Or eat thy poisonous words? Courage of straw!
O desperate coward, wilt thou seem bold, and
To thy foes and his, who made thee to stand
Sentinel in his world's garrison, thus yield,
And for forbidden wars leave th' appointed field?
Know thy foes: the foul devil, whom thou
Strivest to please, for hate, not love, would allow
Thee fain his whole realm to be quit; and as
The world's all parts wither away and pass,
So the world's self, thy other lov'd foe, is
In her decrepit wane, and thou loving this,
Dost love a wither'd and worn strumpet; last,
Flesh (itself's death) and joys which flesh can taste,
Thou lovest, and thy fair goodly soul, which doth
Give this flesh power to taste joy, thou dost loathe.
Seek true religion. O where? Mirreus,
Thinking her unhous'd here, and fled from us,
Seeks her at Rome; there, because he doth know
That she was there a thousand years ago,
He loves her rags so, as we here obey
The statecloth where the prince sate yesterday.
Crantz to such brave loves will not be enthrall'd,
But loves her only, who at Geneva is call'd
Religion, plain, simple, sullen, young,
Contemptuous, yet unhandsome; as among
Lecherous humours, there is one that judges
No wenches wholesome, but coarse country drudges.
Graius stays still at home here, and because
Some preachers, vile ambitious bawds, and laws,
Still new like fashions, bid him think that she
Which dwells with us is only perfect, he
Embraceth her whom his godfathers will
Tender to him, being tender, as wards still
Take such wives as their guardians offer, or
Pay values. Careless Phrygius doth abhor
All, because all cannot be good, as one
Knowing some women whores, dares marry none.
Graccus loves all as one, and thinks that so
As women do in divers countries go
In divers habits, yet are still one kind,
So doth, so is Religion; and this blind-
ness too much light breeds; but unmoved, thou
Of force must one, and forc'd, but one allow,
And the right; ask thy father which is she,
Let him ask his; though truth and falsehood be
Near twins, yet truth a little elder is;
Be busy to seek her; believe me this,
He's not of none, nor worst, that seeks the best.
To adore, or scorn an image, or protest,
May all be bad; doubt wisely; in strange way
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray;
To sleep, or run wrong, is. On a huge hill,
Cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will
Reach her, about must and about must go,
And what the hill's suddenness resists, win so.
Yet strive so that before age, death's twilight,
Thy soul rest, for none can work in that night.
To will implies delay, therefore now do;
Hard deeds, the body's pains; hard knowledge too
The mind's endeavours reach, and mysteries
Are like the sun, dazzling, yet plain to all eyes.
Keep the truth which thou hast found; men do not stand
In so ill case, that God hath with his hand
Sign'd kings' blank charters to kill whom they hate;
Nor are they vicars, but hangmen to fate.
Fool and wretch, wilt thou let thy soul be tied
To man's laws, by which she shall not be tried
At the last day? Oh, will it then boot thee
To say a Philip, or a Gregory,
A Harry, or a Martin, taught thee this?
Is not this excuse for mere contraries
Equally strong? Cannot both sides say so?
That thou mayest rightly obey power, her bounds know;
Those past, her nature and name is chang'd; to be
Then humble to her is idolatry.
As streams are, power is; those blest flowers that dwell
At the rough stream's calm head, thrive and do well,
But having left their roots, and themselves given
To the stream's tyrannous rage, alas, are driven
Through mills, and rocks, and woods, and at last, almost
Consum'd in going, in the sea are lost.
So perish souls, which more choose men's unjust
Power from God claim'd, than God himself to trust. 

(zie vertalingen van Satire III hier)


GO and catch a falling star

by John Donne

In een notendop

De dichter raadt de lezer aan om onmogelijke dingen te doen, zoals het vangen van een meteoor of het vinden van een trouwe en mooie vrouw na een lange zoektocht. Hij verzucht dat hij graag zo'n vrouw wil zien als ze zou bestaan​, maar hij weet dat ze tegen de tijd dat hij haar vond vals zou zijn geworden.

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
            And find
            What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind. 

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
            And swear,
            No where
Lives a woman true and fair. 

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
            Yet she
            Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

(zie vertalingen van Go and catch a falling star hier)

SONG: SWEETEST love, I do not go

by John Donne

In een notendop

De dichter vertelt zijn geliefde dat hij haar niet verlaat omdat hij haar beu is, maar omdat hij het zijn plicht vindt om dit te doen. Immers, de zon vertrekt elke nacht, maar keert elke ochtend weer. Als de geliefde zucht en weent, betoogt de dichter dat zij het is die hem laat gaan, omdat hij in haar is en deel uitmaakt van haar tranen en adem. Hij vraagt ​​haar om het kwaad niet te vrezen dat hem zou kunnen overkomen als hij weg is. Immers, ze houden elkaar in leven in hun harten, omdat ze van elkaar houden en zijn daarom nooit echt gescheiden.

SWEETEST love, I do not go,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me ;
But since that I
At the last must part, 'tis best,
Thus to use myself in jest
By feigned deaths to die.

Yesternight the sun went hence,
And yet is here to-day ;
He hath no desire nor sense,
Nor half so short a way ;
Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.

O how feeble is man's power,
That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,
Nor a lost hour recall ;
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
Itself o'er us to advance.

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind,
But sigh'st my soul away ;
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's blood doth decay.
It cannot be
That thou lovest me as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste,
That art the best of me.

Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill ;
Destiny may take thy part,
And may thy fears fulfil.
But think that we
Are but turn'd aside to sleep.
They who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.

(zie vertalingen van Sweetest love, I do not go  hier)


by John Donne

Send me some tokens, that my hope may live
Or that my easeless thoughts may sleep and rest ;
Send me some honey, to make sweet my hive,
That in my passions I may hope the best.
I beg nor ribbon wrought with thine own hands,
To knit our loves in the fantastic strain
Of new-touch'd youth ; nor ring to show the stands
Of our affection, that, as that's round and plain,
So should our loves meet in simplicity ;
No, nor the corals, which thy wrist enfold,
Laced up together in congruity,
To show our thoughts should rest in the same hold ;
No, nor thy picture, though most gracious, 
And most desired, 'cause 'tis like the best
Nor witty lines, which are most copious,
Within the writings which thou hast address'd.
Send me nor this nor that, to increase my score,
But swear thou think'st I love thee, and no more.

(zie vertalingen van The Token hier)

To Mr. Christopher Brooke, (from the Island Voyage with the Earl of Essex)

by John Donne

Thou which art I, ('tis nothing to be soe)
Thou which art still thy selfe, by these shalt know
Part of our passage; and, a hand, or eye
By Hilliard drawne, is worth a history,
By a worse painter made; and (without pride)
When by thy judgment they are dignifi’d,
My lines are such. 'Tis the preheminence
Of friendship onely to’impute excellence.
England, to whom we’owe, what we be, and have,
Said that her sonnes did seeke a forraine grave
(For, Fate's, or Fortune's drifts none can soothsay,
Honour and misery have one face, and way)
From out her pregnant intrailes sigh'd a winde,
Which at th'ayres middle marble roome did finde
Such strong resistance, that it selfe it threw
Downeward againe ; and so when it did view
How in the port, our fleet deare time did leese,
Withering like prisoners, which lye but for fees,
Mildly it kist our sailes, and, fresh and sweet
As, to a stomach sterv’d, whose insides meete,
Meate comes, it came; and swole our sailes, when wee
So joyd, as Sara’her swelling joy'd to see.
But 'twas but so kinde, as our countrimen,
Which bring friends one dayes way, and leave them then.
Then like two mighty Kings, which dwelling farre
Asunder, meet against a third to warre,
The South and West winds joyn'd, and, as they blew,
Waves like a rolling trench before them threw.
Sooner than you read this line, did the gale,
Like shot, not fear'd, till felt, our sails assaile;
And what at first was call'd a gust, the same
Hath now a stormes, anon a tempests name.
Jonas, I pitty thee, and curse those men
Who, when the storm rage’d most, did wake thee then.
Sleepe is paines easiest salve, and doth fulfill
All offices of death, except to kill.
But when I wakt, I saw, that I saw not.
I, and the Sunne, which should teach mee’had forgot
East, West, day, night, and I could onely say,
If’the world had lasted, now it had been day.
Thousands our noyses were, yet wee'mongst all
Could none by his right name, but thunder, call:
Lightning was all our light, and it rain'd more
Than if the Sunne had drunke the sea before;
Some coffin'd in their cabins lye, ‘equally
Griev’d that they are not dead, and yet must die.
And as sin-burd’ned soules from grave will creepe,
At the last day, some forth their cabins peepe:
And tremblingly’aske what newes, and doe heare so,
Like jealous husbands, what they would not know.
Some sitting on the hatches, would seeme there,
With hideous gazing to feare away feare.
Then note they the ship's sicknesses, the Mast
Shak’d with an ague, and the Hold and Wast
With a salt dropsie clog'd, and all our tacklings
Snapping, like too- high-stretched treble strings.
And from our totterd sailes, ragges drop downe so,
As from one hang'd in chaines a year agoe.
Even our Ordnance plac’d for our defence,
Strive to breake loose, and scape away from thence.
Pumping hath tir’d our men, and what's the gaine?
Seas into seas throwne, we suck in againe;
Hearing hath deaf'd our saylers: and if they
Knew how to heare, there's none knowes what to say.
Compar’d to these stormes, death is but a qualme,
Hell somewhat lightsome, and the’Bermuda calme.
Darknesse, lights elder brother, his birth-right
Claims o'er this world, and to heaven hath chas’d light.
All things are one, and that one none can be,
Since all formes uniforme deformity
Doth cover, so that wee, except God say
Another Fiat, shall have no more day.
So violent, yet long these furies bee,
That though thine absence starve me,‘I wish not thee.


by John Donne

In een notendop

De dichter vraagt ​​de zon waarom zij binnen schijnt en hem met zijn geliefde in bed verstoort. De zon zou moeten verdwijnen en andere dingen gaan doen, zoals mieren wakker maken en schooljongens opjutten om naar school te gaan.  Geliefden moet worden toegestaan ​​om hun eigen tijd te maken als zij dat nodig achten. Immers, zonnestralen zijn niets vergeleken met de kracht van de liefde, en alles wat de zon zou kunnen zien over de hele wereld verbleekt in vergelijking met de schoonheid van de geliefde, die het allemaal omvat. De slaapkamer is de hele wereld.

        BUSY old fool, unruly Sun, 
        Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ? 
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ? 
        Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide 
        Late school-boys and sour prentices, 
    Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride, 
    Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, 
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. 

        Thy beams so reverend, and strong 
        Why shouldst thou think ? 
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, 
But that I would not lose her sight so long. 
        If her eyes have not blinded thine, 
        Look, and to-morrow late tell me, 
    Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine 
    Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me. 
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday, 
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay." 

        She's all states, and all princes I ;
        Nothing else is ; 
Princes do but play us ; compared to this, 
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy. 
        Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we, 
        In that the world's contracted thus ; 
    Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be 
    To warm the world, that's done in warming us. 
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ; 
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

(zie vertalingen van The Sun Rising hier)


by John Donne

    I am two fools, I know, 
    For loving, and for saying so
        In whining poetry ;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
        If she would not deny ?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
    Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
    Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.
    But when I have done so,
    Some man, his art and voice to show,
        Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
        Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
    But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
    For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

(zie vertalingen van The Triple Fool hier)


by John Donne

BLASTED with sighs, and surrounded with tears,
    Hither I come to seek the spring,
And at mine eyes, and at mine ears,
    Receive such balms as else cure every thing.
    But O ! self-traitor, I do bring
The spider Love, which transubstantiates all,
And can convert manna to gall ;
And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent brought.

'Twere wholesomer for me that winter did
    Benight the glory of this place,
And that a grave frost did forbid
    These trees to laugh and mock me to my face ;
    But that I may not this disgrace
Endure, nor yet leave loving, Love, let me
Some senseless piece of this place be ;
Make me a mandrake, so I may grow here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.

Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come,
    And take my tears, which are love's wine,
And try your mistress' tears at home,
    For all are false, that taste not just like mine.
    Alas ! hearts do not in eyes shine,
Nor can you more judge women's thoughts by tears,
Than by her shadow what she wears.
O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who's therefore true, because her truth kills me.


by John Donne

In een notendop

De spreker in het gedicht legt uit dat hij gedwongen is om voor een tijd zijn geliefde alleen te laten. Voordat hij vertrekt, zegt hij haar dat hun afscheid geen aanleiding zou mogen zijn voor rouw en verdriet.

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,  
    And whisper to their souls to go,  
Whilst some of their sad friends do say, 
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                     

So let us melt, and make no noise,                                        
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ; 
'Twere profanation of our joys  
    To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ; 
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                               
But trepidation of the spheres,  
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love  
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit  
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                      
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined, 
    That ourselves know not what it is,  
Inter-assurèd of the mind,  
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           

Our two souls therefore, which are one,  
    Though I must go, endure not yet  
A breach, but an expansion,  
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so                                           
    As stiff twin compasses are two ;  
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show  
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit,  
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                 
It leans, and hearkens after it,  
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must, 
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ; 
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                     
    And makes me end where I begun.

(zie vertalingen van A Valediction Forbidding Mourning hier)


by John Donne

                LET me pour forth
My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here,
For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,
And by this mintage they are something worth.
                For thus they be
                Pregnant of thee ;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more ;
When a tear falls, that thou fall'st which it bore ;
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.

                On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all.
                So doth each tear,
                Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mix'd with mine do overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolvèd so.

                O ! more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere ;
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea, what it may do too soon ;
                Let not the wind
                Example find
To do me more harm than it purposeth :
Since thou and I sigh one another's breath,
Whoe'er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other's death. 

Zie bespreking van het gedicht hier
Voor de vertaling van Huygens, klik hier


by John Donne

I FIX mine eye on thine, and there 
    Pity my picture burning in thine eye ; 
My picture drown'd in a transparent tear, 
    When I look lower I espy ; 
        Hadst thou the wicked skill 
By pictures made and marr'd, to kill, 
How many ways mightst thou perform thy will? 

But now I've drunk thy sweet salt tears, 
    And though thou pour more, I'll depart ; 
My picture vanished, vanish all fears 
    That I can be endamaged by that art ; 
        Though thou retain of me 
One picture more, yet that will be, 
Being in thine own heart, from all malice free. 


by John Donne

NOW thou hast loved me one whole day,
To-morrow when thou leavest, what wilt thou say ?
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow ?
            Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were ?
Or that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear ?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose ?
            Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true ?
Vain lunatic, against these 'scapes I could
            Dispute, and conquer, if I would ;
            Which I abstain to do,
For by to-morrow I may think so too.

(zie vertalingen van Woman's Constancy hier)