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Elegy XVIII: Loves Progress

 Who ever loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.
Love is a bear-whelp born: if we o'erlick Our love, and force it new strange shapes to take, We err, and of a lump a monster make.
Were not a calf a monster that were grown Faced like a man, though better than his own? Perfection is in unity: prefer One woman first, and then one thing in her.
I, when I value gold, may think upon The ductileness, the application, The wholsomeness, the ingenuity, From rust, from soil, from fire ever free; But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made By our new nature (Use) the soul of trade.
All these in women we might think upon (If women had them) and yet love but one.
Can men more injure women than to say They love them for that by which they're not they? Makes virtue woman? Must I cool my blood Till I both be, and find one, wise and good? May barren angels love so! But if we Make love to woman, virtue is not she, As beauty's not, nor wealth.
He that strays thus From her to hers is more adulterous Than if he took her maid.
Search every sphere And firmament, our Cupid is not there; He's an infernal god, and under ground With Pluto dwells, where gold and fire abound: Men to such gods their sacrificing coals Did not in altars lay, but pits and holes.
Although we see celestial bodies move Above the earth, the earth we till and love: So we her airs contemplate, words and heart And virtues, but we love the centric part.
Nor is the soul more worthy, or more fit, For love than this, as infinite is it.
But in attaining this desired place How much they err that set out at the face.
The hair a forest is of ambushes, Of springs, snares, fetters and manacles; The brow becalms us when 'tis smooth and plain, And when 'tis wrinkled shipwrecks us again— Smooth, 'tis a paradise where we would have Immortal stay, and wrinkled 'tis our grave.
The nose (like to the first meridian) runs Not 'twixt an East and West, but 'twixt two suns; It leaves a cheek, a rosy hemisphere, On either side, and then directs us where Upon the Islands Fortunate we fall, (Not faint Canaries, but Ambrosial) Her swelling lips; to which when we are come, We anchor there, and think ourselves at home, For they seem all: there Sirens' songs, and there Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear; There in a creek where chosen pearls do swell, The remora, her cleaving tongue doth dwell.
These, and the glorious promontory, her chin, O'erpassed, and the straight Hellespont between The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts, (Not of two lovers, but two loves the nests) Succeeds a boundless sea, but yet thine eye Some island moles may scattered there descry; And sailing towards her India, in that way Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay; Though thence the current be thy pilot made, Yet ere thou be where thou wouldst be embayed Thou shalt upon another forest set, Where many shipwreck and no further get.
When thou art there, consider what this chase Misspent by thy beginning at the face.
Rather set out below; practise my art.
Some symetry the foot hath with that part Which thou dost seek, and is thy map for that, Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at; Least subject to disguise and change it is— Men say the devil never can change his.
It is the emblem that hath figured Firmness; 'tis the first part that comes to bed.
Civility we see refined; the kiss Which at the face began, transplanted is, Since to the hand, since to the imperial knee, Now at the papal foot delights to be: If kings think that the nearer way, and do Rise from the foot, lovers may do so too; For as free spheres move faster far than can Birds, whom the air resists, so may that man Which goes this empty and ethereal way, Than if at beauty's elements he stay.
Rich nature hath in women wisely made Two purses, and their mouths aversely laid: They then which to the lower tribute owe That way which that exchequer looks must go: He which doth not, his error is as great As who by clyster gave the stomach meat.

Poem by John Donne
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