The Indifferent

By John Donne 1572–1631 John Donne
I can love both fair and brown,
Her whom abundance melts, and her whom want betrays,
Her who loves loneness best, and her who masks and plays,
Her whom the country formed, and whom the town,
Her who believes, and her who tries,
Her who still weeps with spongy eyes,
And her who is dry cork, and never cries;
I can love her, and her, and you, and you,
I can love any, so she be not true.

Will no other vice content you?
Will it not serve your turn to do as did your mothers?
Or have you all old vices spent, and now would find out others?
Or doth a fear that men are true torment you?
O we are not, be not you so;
Let me, and do you, twenty know.
Rob me, but bind me not, and let me go.
Must I, who came to travail thorough you,
Grow your fixed subject, because you are true?

Venus heard me sigh this song,
And by love's sweetest part, variety, she swore,
She heard not this till now; and that it should be so no more.
She went, examined, and returned ere long,
And said, Alas! some two or three
Poor heretics in love there be,
Which think to ’stablish dangerous constancy.
But I have told them, Since you will be true,
You shall be true to them who are false to you.

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Poet John Donne 1572–1631

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Men & Women, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Marriage & Companionship, Gender & Sexuality, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Love, Living, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 John  Donne

Biography

John Donne's standing as a great English poet, and one of the greatest writers of English prose, is now assured. However, it has been confirmed only in the early 20th century. The history of Donne's reputation is the most remarkable of any major writer in English; no other body of great poetry has fallen so far from favor for so long and been generally condemned as inept and crude. In Donne's own day his poetry was highly prized . . .

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SUBJECT Men & Women, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Marriage & Companionship, Gender & Sexuality, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Love, Living, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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