The Triple Fool

By John Donne 1572–1631 John Donne
I am two fools, I know,
      For loving, and for saying so
          In whining poetry;
But where's that wiseman, 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 increased 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.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet John Donne 1572–1631

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Poetry & Poets, Living, Arts & Sciences, Sorrow & Grieving

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 present 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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Living, Arts & Sciences, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.