John Donne: The Undertaking

The undertaking.

I Have done one braver thing
Then all the Worthies did,
And yet a braver thence doth ſpring,
Which is, to keepe that hid.

It were but madnes now t’impart
The skill of ſpecular ſtone,
When he which can have learn’d the art
To cut it, can finde none.

So, if I now ſhould utter this,
Others (becauſe no more
Such ſtuffe to worke upon, there is,)
Would love but as before.

But he who lovelineſſe within
Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who colour loves, and skinne,
Loves but their oldeſt clothes.

If, as I have, you alſo doe
Vertue’attir’d in woman ſee,
And dare love that, and ſay ſo too,
And forget the Hee and Shee ;

And if this love, though placed ſo,
From prophane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this beſtow,
Or, if they doe, deride :

Then you have done a braver thing
Then all the Worthies did ;
And a braver thence will ſpring,
Which is, to keepe that hid.

—John Donne

Source: The Poems of John Donne. Edited from the old editions and numerous manuscripts with introductions & commentary by Herbert J. C. Grierson. Vol. I, the text of the poems with appendixes. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1912. Downloaded from the Internet Archive.

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