Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WILL, by JOHN DONNE



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THE WILL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe
Last Line: To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all three.
Variant Title(s): He Pretends A Series Of Bequests
Subject(s): Death; Life; Dead, The


Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Great Love, some legacies: here I bequeathe
Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see,
If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee;
My tongue to Fame, to embassadors my ears;
To women, or the sea, my tears;
Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore
By making me serve her who had twenty more,
That I should give to none, but such as had too much before.
My constancy I to the planets give;
My truth to them who at the court do live;
Mine ingenuity and openness
To Jesuits; to buffoons my pensiveness;
My silence to any who abroad have been;
My money to a Capuchin.
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me
To love there, where no love received can be,
Only to give to such as have an incapacity.
My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
All my good works unto the schismatics
Of Amsterdam; my best civility
And courtship to an University;
My modesty I give to shoulders bare;
My patience let gamesters share.
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her, that holds my love disparity,
Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity.
I give my reputation to those
Which were my friends; mine industry to foes;
To schoolmen I bequeathe my doubtfulness;
My sickness to physicians, or excess;
To Nature all that I in rhyme have writ;
And to my company my wit.
Thou, Love, by making me adore
Her, who begot this love in me before,
Taught'st me to make, as though I gave, when I do but restore.
To him, for whom the passing-bell next tolls,
I give my physic-books; my written rolls
Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give:
My brazen medals unto them which live
In want of bread; to them which pass among
All foreigners, mine English tongue.
Thou, Love, by making me love one
Who thinks her friendship a fit portion
For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion.
Therefore I'll give no more, but I'll undo
The world by dying; because Love dies too.
Then all your beauties will be no more worth
Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth;
And all your graces no more use shall have,
Than a sun-dial in a grave.
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me
Love her, who doth neglect both me and thee,
To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all three.




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