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Song

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;

5 Teach me to hear mermaids singing,

Or to keep off envy's stinging,

And find

What wind

Serves to advance an honest mind.

 

10 If thou be'st born to strange sights,

 Things invisible to see,

Ride ten thousand days and nights,

Till age snow white hairs on thee,

Thou, when thou return'st, will tell me

15 All strange wonders that befell thee,

   And swear

   Nowhere

 Lives a woman true, and fair.

 

 If thou find'st one, let me know;

20   Such a pilgrimage were sweet.

 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,

25   Yet she

   Will be

 False, ere I come, to two or three.

1633

 

1. Get ... mandrake root. Mandrake is a European herb with a forked root, fancied to resemble the figure of a man. (Recognizing the resemblance as well as the impossibility of a plant's reproducing as humans do, Donne includes this in his catalogue of fantastic achievements.)

 



The Bait

 

Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will some new pleasures prove

Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,

With silken lines, and silver hooks.

 

5           There will the river  whispering run

Warmed by thy eyes, more than the sun

And there th' enamoured fish will stay,

Begging themselves they may betray.

 

When thou wilt swim in that live bath

10 Each fish, which every channel hath,

Will amorously to thee swim,

Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

 

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loath,

By sun, or moon, thou darkenest bot

15 And if myself have leave to see,

I need not their light, having thee.

 

Let others freeze with angling reeds,

And cut their legs, with shells and weeds,

Or treacherously poor fish beset,

20 With strangling snare, or windowy net:

 

Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest

The bedded fish in banks outwrest,

Or curious traitors, sleavesilk flies

Bewitch poor fishes' wandering eyes.

 

25      For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,

For thou thyself art thine own bait;

That fish, that is not catched thereby,

Alas, is wiser far than 1.

English IV