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    Love's Exchange

    by John Donne
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    LOVE, any devil else but you
    Would for a given soul give something too.
    At court your fellows every day
    Give th' art of rhyming, huntsmanship, or play,
    For them which were their own before ;
    Only I have nothing, which gave more,
    But am, alas ! by being lowly, lower.

    I ask no dispensation now,
    To falsify a tear, or sigh, or vow ;
    I do not sue from thee to draw
    A non obstante on nature's law ;
    These are prerogatives, they inhere
    In thee and thine ; none should forswear
    Except that he Love's minion were.

    Give me thy weakness, make me blind,
    Both ways, as thou and thine, in eyes and mind ;
    Love, let me never know that this
    Is love, or, that love childish is ;
    Let me not know that others know
    That she knows my paines, lest that so
    A tender shame make me mine own new woe.

    If thou give nothing, yet thou 'rt just,
    Because I would not thy first motions trust ;
    Small towns which stand stiff, till great shot
    Enforce them, by war's law condition not ;
    Such in Love's warfare is my case ;
    I may not article for grace,
    Having put Love at last to show this face.

    This face, by which he could command
    And change th' idolatry of any land,
    This face, which, wheresoe'er it comes,
    Can call vow'd men from cloisters, dead from tombs,
    And melt both poles at once, and store
    Deserts with cities, and make more
    Mines in the earth, than quarries were before.

    For this Love is enraged with me,
    Yet kills not ; if I must example be
    To future rebels, if th' unborn
    Must learn by my being cut up and torn,
    Kill, and dissect me, Love ; for this
    Torture against thine own end is ;
    Rack'd carcasses make ill anatomies.
    If you're writing a Love's Exchange essay and need some advice, post your John Donne essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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