Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  199. The Dream

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

John Donne. 1573–1631

199. The Dream

DEAR love, for nothing less than thee 
Would I have broke this happy dream; 
        It was a theme 
For reason, much too strong for fantasy. 
Therefore thou waked’st me wisely; yet         5
My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it. 
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice 
To make dreams truths and fables histories; 
Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best 
Not to dream all my dream, let ‘s act the rest.  10
As lightning, or a taper’s light, 
Thine eyes, and not thy noise, waked me; 
        Yet I thought thee— 
For thou lov’st truth—an angel, at first sight; 
But when I saw thou saw’st my heart,  15
And knew’st my thoughts beyond an angel’s art, 
When thou knew’st what I dreamt, when thou knew’st when 
Excess of joy would wake me, and cam’st then, 
I must confess it could not choose but be 
Profane to think thee anything but thee.  20
Coming and staying show’d thee thee, 
But rising makes me doubt that now 
        Thou art not thou. 
That Love is weak where Fear ‘s as strong as he; 
‘Tis not all spirit pure and brave  25
If mixture it of Fear, Shame, Honour have. 
Perchance as torches, which must ready be, 
Men light and put out, so thou deal’st with me. 
Thou cam’st to kindle, go’st to come: then I 
Will dream that hope again, but else would die.  30