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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

John Donne

172. Love’s Deity

I LONG to talk with some old lover’s ghost,

Who died before the god of love was born:

I cannot think that he, that then loved most,

Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn.

But since this god produced a destiny,

And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be,

I must love her that loves not me.

Sure they which made him god meant not so much,

Nor he in his young godhead practised it;

But when an even flame two hearts did touch,

His office was indulgently to fit

Actives to passives; correspondency

Only his subject was; it cannot be

Love, if I love who loves not me.

But every modern god will now extend

His vast prerogative as far as Jove;

To rage, to lust, to write too, to commend;

All is the purlieu of the god of love.

O were we wakened by his tyranny

To ungod this child again, it could not be

I should love her that loves not me.

Rebel and atheist, too, why murmur I,

As though I felt the worst that love could do?

Love may make me leave loving, or might try

A deeper plague, to make her love me too,

Which, since she loves before, I am loath to see,

Falsehood is worse than hate; and that must be,

If she whom I love should love me.