John Donne Quotes

95 Quotes Sorted by Search Results (Descending)

About John Donne

John Donne (22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was a Jacobean metaphysical poet. His works include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, and sermons.

Born: January 22nd, 1572

Died: March 31st, 1631

Categories: Authors, English poets, 17th century deaths

Quotes: 95 sourced quotes total (includes 1 disputed, 3 about)

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Words (count)305 - 173
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One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
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.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so, For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Busy old fool, unruly Sun, Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains call on us? Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies.
No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one autumnal face.
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
John Donne
• Modern version: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
• Meditation 17. This was the source for the title of Ernest Hemingway's novel.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Quotes, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624))
For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love.
A bracelet of bright hair about the bone.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.
Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; For, thus friends absent speak.
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, Teach me to hear mermaids singing, Or to keep off envy's stinging, And find What wind Serves to advance an honest mind.
Love's mysteries in souls do grow, But yet the body is his book.
And swear No where Lives a woman true and fair. If thou find'st one, let me know, 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, Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two, or three.
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
She is all states, and all princes, I, Nothing else is.
I am two fools, I know, For loving, and for saying so In whining poetry.
Our two souls therefore which are one, Though I must go, endure not yet A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to airy thinness beat.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee, As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be, To taste whole joys.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell; And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke.
Dull sublunary lovers' love (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it.
The Phoenix riddle hath more wit By us, we two being one, are it. So to one neutral thing both sexes fit, We die and rise the same, and prove Mysterious by this love.
What if this present were the world's last night?
Show me, dear Christ, Thy spouse, so bright and clear.
As well a well-wrought urn becomes The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs.
I have done one braver thing Than all the Worthies did; And yet a braver thence doth spring, Which is to keep that hid.
Take heed of loving me.
O my America! my new-found land.
Yesternight the sun went hence, And yet is here today.
I long to talk with some old lover's ghost, Who died before the god of love was born.
Let us love nobly, and live, and add again Years and years unto years, till we attain To write threescore: this is the second of our reign.
He was the Word, that spake it: He took the bread and brake it; And what that Word did make it, I do believe and take it.
Disputed quote by John Donne
Divine Poems, "On the Sacrament"; attributed by many writers to Elizabeth I. It is not in the original edition of Donne, but first appears in the edition of 1654, p. 352.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Disputed)
Licence my roving hands, and let them go Before, behind, between, above, below. O, my America, my Newfoundland My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd, My mine of precious stones, my empery; How am I blest in thus discovering thee ! To enter in these bonds, is to be free ; Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be."
Nature's lay idiot, I taught thee to love.
I am a little world made cunningly Of elements, and an angelic sprite.
When I died last, and dear, I die As often as from thee I go.
'Tis true, 'tis day; what though it be? O wilt thou therefore rise from me? Why should we rise, because 'tis light? Did we lie down, because 'twas night? Love which in spite of darkness brought us hither Should in despite of light keep us together.
I do nothing upon myself, and yet am mine own executioner.
And dare love that, and say so too, And forget the He and She.
Oh do not die, for I shall hate All women so, when thou art gone.
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend, All is the purlieu of the god of love.
She, and comparisons are odious.
John Donne
• No. 8, The Comparison, line 54. Compare: "Comparisons are odious", John Fortescue, De Laudibus Leg. Angliæ, Chap. xix; "Comparisons are odorous", William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, act iii, scene v
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Quotes, Elegies)
But think that we Are but turned aside to sleep.
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies, Despair, law, chance, hath slain.
Though Truth and Falsehood be Near twins, yet Truth a little elder is.
Ah cannot we As well as cocks and lions jocund be, After such pleasures?
Absence, hear thou my protestation Against thy strength, Distance, and length; Do what thou canst for alteration
If poisonous minerals, and if that tree, Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us, If lecherous goats, if serpents envious Cannot be damned; alas; why should I be?
That subtle knot which makes us man: So must pure lovers' souls descend T' affections, and to faculties, Which sense may reach and apprehend, Else a great Prince in prison lies.
I throw myself down in my chamber, and I call in and invite God and his angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his angels, for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.
John Donne
• No. 80, preached at the funeral of Sir William Cokayne, December 12, 1626
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Quotes, LXXX Sermons (1640))
We then, who are this new soul, know Of what we are compos'd and made, For th' atomies of which we grow Are souls, whom no change can invade. But oh alas, so long, so far, Our bodies why do we forbear? They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are The intelligences, they the spheres.
Age is a sicknesse, and Youth is an ambush.
The flea, though he kill none, he does all the harm he can.
So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss, Which sucks two souls, and vapors both away.
The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts Not of two lovers, but two loves the nests.
I observe the physician, with the same diligence, as he the disease; I see he fears, and I fear with him...
But he who loveliness within Hath found, all outward loathes, For he who color loves, and skin, Loves but their oldest clothes.
It is too little to call man a little world, except God, man is a diminutive to nothing. Man consists of more pieces, more parts, than the world; than the world doth, nay, than the world is.
The world's whole sap is sunk: The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk, Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk, Dead and interred; yet all these seem to laugh, Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
For I am every dead thing, In whom love wrought new alchemy. For his art did express A quintessence even from nothingness, From dull privations, and lean emptiness He ruined me, and I am re-begot Of absence, darkness, death; things which are not.
I have heard it said, by the way, that Donne's intolerable defect of ear grew out of his own baptismal name, when harnessed to his own surname -- John Donne. No man, it was said, who had listened to this hideous jingle from childish years, could fail to have his genius for discord, and the abominable in sound, improved to the utmost.
About John Donne
• Thomas De Quincey, Literary Reminisceneces: From The Autobiography of an English Opium-eater (1851)
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Quotes about John Donne)
Poor intricated soul! Riddling, perplexed, labyrinthical soul!
John Donne
• No. 48, preached upon the Day of St. Paul's Conversion, January 25, 1629
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Donne" (Quotes, LXXX Sermons (1640))
How deepe do we dig, and for how coarse gold?
Twice and thrice had I loved thee, Before I knew thy face or name.
The heavens rejoice in motion, why should I Abjure my so much loved variety.
Let not one bring Learning, another Diligence, another Religion, but every one bring all.
Send home my long strayed eyes to me, Which (Oh) too long have dwelt on thee.
Variable, and therefore miserable condition of man; this minute I was well, and am ill, this minute.
And what is so intricate, so entangling as death? Who ever got out of a winding sheet?
Whilst my physicians by their love are grown Cosmographers, and their map, who lie Flat on this bed.
Man, who is the noblest part of the earth, melts so away as if he were a statue, not of earth, but of snow.
Hee drinkes misery, and he tastes happinesse; he mowes misery, and he gleanes happinesse; he journeys in misery, he does but walke in happinesse.
At the round earth's imagin'd corners, blow Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise From death, you numberless infinities Of souls, and to your scattred bodies go.
We understood Her by her sight; her pure, and eloquent blood Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought, That one might almost say, her body thought.
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.
If they be two, they are two so As stiff twin compasses are two, Thy soul the fixt foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the other do.
What gnashing is not a comfort, what gnawing of the worm is not a tickling, what torment is not a marriage bed to this damnation, to be secluded eternally, eternally, eternally from the sight of God?
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread Our eyes, upon one double string; So to entergraft our hands, as yet Was all the means to make us one, And pictures in our eyes to get Was all our propagation.
Since I am coming to that holy room, Where, with thy choir of saints forevermore, I shall be made thy music; as I come I tune the instrument here at the door, And what I must do then, think here before.
When God's hand is bent to strike, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but to fall out of the hands of the living God is a horror beyond our expression, beyond our imagination.
His writings, like his actions, were faulty, violent, a little morbid even, and abnormal. He was not, and did not attempt to be, an average man. But actions and writings alike, in their strangeness and aloofness, were unadulterated by a tinge of affectation.
Sweetest love, I do not go, For weariness of thee, Nor in hope the world can show A fitter love for me; But since that I Must die at last, 'tis best, To use my self in jest Thus by feigned deaths to die.
Now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.
When my mouth shall be filled with dust, and the worm shall feed, and feed sweetly upon me, when the ambitious man shall have no satisfaction if the poorest alive tread upon him, nor the poorest receive any contentment in being made equal to princes, for they shall be equal but in dust.
I know not what fear is, nor I know not what it is that I fear now; I fear not the hastening of my death, and yet I do fear the increase of the disease... my weakness is from nature, who hath but her measure, my strength is from God, who possesses and distributes infinitely.
Who ever comes to shroud me, do not harm Nor question much That subtle wreth of hair, which crowns my arm; The mystery, the sign you must not touch, For 'tis my outward soul, Viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone, Will leave this to control, And keep these limbs, her provinces, from dissolution.
And then as the other world produces serpents, and vipers, malignant, and venomous creatures, and worms, and caterpillars, that endeavour to devour that world produces them, and monsters compiled and complicated of diverse parents, and kinds, so this world, ourselves produces all these in us, in producing diseases and sicknesses of all those sorts; venomous and infectious diseases, feeding and consuming diseases...
Donne is the most inharmonious of our versifiers, if he can be said to have deserved such a name by lines too rugged to seem metre. Of his earlier poems many are very licentious; the later are chiefly devout. Few are good for much; the conceits have not even the merit of being intelligible; it would perhaps be difficult to select three passages that we should care to read again.
All Kings, and all their favorites, All glory of honors, beauties, wits The sun itself, which makes times, as they pass, Is elder by a year, now, than it was When thou and I first one another saw: All other things, to their destruction draw, Only our love hath no decay; This, no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday, Running, it never runs from us away, But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.
And new philosophy calls all in doubt, The element of fire is quite put out; The sun is lost, and the earth, and no man's wit, Can well direct him where to look for it. And freely men confess that this world's spent, When in the planets, and the firmament They seek so many new; then see that this Is crumbled out again to his atomies. 'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone; All just supply, and all relation: Prince, subject, Father, Son, are things forgot.
A man that is not afraid of a Lion is afraid of a Cat; not afraid of starving, and yet is afraid of some joint of meat at the table, presented to feed him; not afraid of the sound of drums, and trumpets, and shot, and those, which they seek to drown, the last cries of men, and is afraid of some particular harmonious instrument; so much afraid, as that with any of these the enemy might drive this man, otherwise valiant enough, out of the field.
Enlarge this meditation upon this great world, man, so far, as to consider the immensity of the creatures this world produces; our creatures are our thoughts, creatures that are born giants; that reach from east to west, from earth to heaven, that do not only bestride all the sea and land, but span the sun and firmament at once; my thoughts reach all, comprehend all. Inexplicable mystery; I their creator am in a close prison, in a sick bed, anywhere, and any one of my creatures, my thoughts, is with the sun, and beyond the sun, overtakes the sun, and overgoes the sun in one pace, one step, everywhere.
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den? ’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be. If ever any beauty I did see, Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee. And now good-morrow to our waking souls, Which watch not one another out of fear; For love, all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room an everywhere. Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; Where can we find two better hemispheres, Without sharp north, without declining west? Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; If our two loves be one, or, thou and I Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

End John Donne Quotes