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Best Famous John Donne Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous John Donne poems. This is a select list of the best famous John Donne poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous John Donne poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of John Donne poems.

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Written by John Donne |

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 pictures 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 art 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.

Written by John Donne |

The Dream

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 5 My dream thou brok'st 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.
10 As lightning or a taper's light Thine eyes and not thy noise waked me; Yet I thought thee¡ª For thou lov'st truth¡ªan angel at first sight; But when I saw thou saw'st my heart 15 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 cam'st then I must confess it could not choose but be Profane to think thee anything but thee.
20 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 25 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 cam'st to kindle go'st to come: then I Will dream that hope again but else would die.

Written by John Donne |

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked 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 pampered swells with one blood made of two,
  And this, alas, is more than we would do.
Oh 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 are met, And cloistered 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.
Curel and sudden, hast thou since Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence? Wherein could this flea guilty be, Except in that drop which it sucked from thee? Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou Find'st not thy self nor me the weaker now; 'Tis true; then learn how false, fears be; Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me, Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

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Written by John Donne |


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 5 And perish in their infancy.

Written by John Donne |


DEATH be not proud though some have call¨¨d 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 5 Much pleasure then from thee much more must flow; And soonest our best men with thee do go¡ª 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; 10 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!

Written by John Donne |

The Funeral

WHOEVER comes to shroud me do not harm 
Nor question much 
That subtle wreath of hair about mine arm; 
The mystery the sign you must not touch  
For 'tis my outward soul 5 
Viceroy to that which unto heav'n being gone  
Will leave this to control 
And keep these limbs her provinces from dissolution.
For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall Through every part 10 Can tie those parts and make me one of all; Those hairs which upward grew and strength and art Have from a better brain Can better do 't: except she meant that I By this should know my pain 15 As prisoners then are manacled when they're condemn'd to die.
Whate'er she meant by 't bury it with me For since I am Love's martyr it might breed idolatry If into other hands these reliques came.
20 As 'twas humility T' afford to it all that a soul can do So 'tis some bravery That since you would have none of me I bury some of you.

Written by John Donne |

A Hymn to God the Father

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; 5 
For I have more.
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin and made my sins their door? Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two but wallow'd in a score? 10 When Thou hast done Thou hast not done; For I have more.
I have a sin of fear that when I've spun My last thread I shall perish on the shore; But swear by Thyself that at my death Thy Son 15 Shall shine as He shines now and heretofore: And having done that Thou hast done; I fear no more.

Written by John Donne |

A Fever

 Oh do not die, for I shall hate
 All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
 When I remember, thou wast one.
But yet thou canst not die, I know, To leave this world behind, is death, But when thou from this world wilt go, The whole world vapors with thy breath.
Or if, when thou, the world's soul, goest, It stay, 'tis but thy carcass then, The fairest woman, but thy ghost, But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.
O wrangling schools, that search what fire Shall burn this world, had none the wit Unto this knowledge to aspire, That this her fever might be it? And yet she cannot waste by this, Nor long bear this torturing wrong, For much corruption needful is To fuel such a fever long.
These burning fits but meteors be, Whose matter in thee is soon spent.
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee, Are unchangeable firmament.
Yet 'twas of my mind, seizing thee, Though it in thee cannot persever.
For I had rather owner be, Of thee one hour, than all else ever.

Written by John Donne |

The Ecstasy

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 c¨¨mented 5 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; 10 And pictures in our eyes to get Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equal armies Fate Suspends uncertain victory Our souls¡ªwhich to advance their state 15 Were gone out¡ªhung '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.

Written by John Donne |

Air And Angels

 Twice or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name,
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame,
Angels affect us oft, and worship'd be;
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
But since my soul, whose child love is, Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do, More subtile than the parent is, Love must not be, but take a body too, And therefore what thou wert, and who, I bid Love ask, and now That it assume thy body, I allow, And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.
Whilst thus to ballast love, I thought, And so more steadily to have gone, With wares which would sink admiration, I saw, I had love's pinnace overfraught, Ev'ry thy hair for love to work upon Is much too much, some fitter must be sought; For, nor in nothing, nor in things Extreme, and scatt'ring bright, can love inhere; Then as an Angel, face, and wings Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear, So thy love may be my loves sphere; Just such disparity As is twixt Air and Angels' purity, 'Twixt women's love, and men's will ever be.

Written by John Donne |


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, 5 
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, 10 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, 15 And swear No where Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know; Such a pilgrimage were sweet.
20 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 25 Will be False, ere I come, to two or three.

Written by John Donne |

That Time and Absence proves Rather helps than hurts to loves

ABSENCE hear thou my protestation 
Against thy strength  
Distance and length: 
Do what thou canst for alteration  
For hearts of truest mettle 5 
Absence doth join and Time doth settle.
Who loves a mistress of such quality His mind hath found Affection's ground Beyond time place and all mortality.
10 To hearts that cannot vary Absence is present Time doth tarry.
My senses want their outward motion Which now within Reason doth win 15 Redoubled by her secret notion: Like rich men that take pleasure In hiding more than handling treasure.
By Absence this good means I gain That I can catch her 20 Where none can watch her In some close corner of my brain: There I embrace and kiss her And so enjoy her and none miss her.

Written by John Donne |

John Donne - The Paradox

 No Lover saith, I love, nor any other
Can judge a perfect Lover;
Hee thinkes that else none can, nor will agree
That any loves but hee;
I cannot say I'lov'd.
for who can say Hee was kill'd yesterday? Lover withh excesse of heat, more yong than old, Death kills with too much cold; Wee dye but once, and who lov'd last did die, Hee that saith twice, doth lye: For though hee seeme to move, and stirre a while, It doth the sense beguile.
Such life is like the light which bideth yet When the lights life is set, Or like the heat, which fire in solid matter Leave behinde, two houres after.
Once I lov's and dy'd; and am now become Mine Epitaph and Tombe.
Here dead men speake their last, and so do I; Love-slaine, loe, here I lye.

Written by John Donne |

Confined Love

 Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser
If on womankind he might his anger wreak,
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know;
But are other creatures so?

Are Sun, Moon, or Stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced, or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a-night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose,
But we are made worse than those.
Who e'er rigged fair ship to lie in harbours And not to seek new lands, or not to deal withal? Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbors, Only to lock up, or else to let them fall? Good is not good unless A thousand it possess, But dost waste with greediness.

Written by John Donne |

Holy Sonnet XV: Wilt Thou Love God As He Thee? Then Digest

 Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest,
My soul, this wholesome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy breast.
The Father having begot a Son most blest, And still begetting, (for he ne'er be gone) Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption, Co-heir t' his glory, and Sabbath' endless rest.
And as a robbed man, which by search doth find His stol'n stuff sold, must lose or buy 't again: The Son of glory came down, and was slain, Us whom he'd made, and Satan stol'n, to unbind.
'Twas much that man was made like God before, But, that God should be made like man, much more.