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Elegy XIV: Julia

John Donne 1572 (London) – 1631 (London)



Hark, news, O envy ; thou shalt hear descried
My Julia ; who as yet was ne'er envied.
To vomit gall in slander, swell her veins
With calumny, that hell itself disdains,
Is her continual practice ; does her best,
To tear opinion e'en out of the breast
Of dearest friends, and—which is worse than vile—
Sticks jealousy in wedlock ; her own child
Scapes not the showers of envy. To repeat
The monstrous fashions how, were alive to eat
Deare reputation ; would to God she were
But half so loth to act vice, as to hear
My mild reproof. Lived Mantuan now again
That female Mastix to limn with his pen,
This she Chimera that hath eyes of fire,
Burning with anger—anger feeds desire—
Tongued like the night crow, whose ill boding cries
Give out for nothing but new injuries ;
Her breath like to the juice in Tænarus,
That blasts the springs, though ne'er so prosperous ;
Her hands, I know not how, used more to spill
The food of others than herself to fill ;
But O ! her mind, that Orcus, which includes
Legions of mischiefs, countless multitudes
Of formless curses, projects unmade up,
Abuses yet unfashion'd, thoughts corrupt,
Misshapen cavils, palpable untroths,
Inevitable errors, self-accusing loaths.
These, like those atoms swarming in the sun,
Throng in her bosom for creation.
I blush to give her halfe her due ; yet say,
No poison's half so bad as Julia.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Donne

John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. more…

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