The Bait


by John Donne

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.

There will the river whispering run
Warm’d by thy eyes, more than the sun;
And there the ‘enamour’d fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be’st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark’nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes’ wand’ring eyes.

For thee, thou need’st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait:
That fish, that is not catch’d thereby,
Alas, is wiser far than I.


About the Author:

John Donne (1572-1631), English poet and clergyman, responds here, in a piscatorial twist, to both Walter Raleigh’s and Christopher Marlowe’s earlier pastoral lyrics, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd,” and “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” respectively.


  • Jettie H. van den Boom

    I Die, and if I cannot be beleev’d,

    My deaths more certaine, as it is most sure…

    …And yet even there shall in my bosome pure,

    The shape of thy faire face ingraude be eyed.

    For that’s a relique, which I do reserve

    For the last traunces, my countentions threaten,

    Which midst thy rigour doth it selfe preserue.

    O woe’s the wight! That is by tempests beaten

    By night in unknown Seas, in danger rise

    For want of North, or haven to lose his life.

    This is a poem written by John Donne in Don Quixote
    I, 4, VII.

    Compare it with THE DAMP.. when i’m dead…
    He wrote all the poems in the Don Quixote, he was one of the Sirenaics, who assisted Francis Bacon by writing the original Don Quixote in English. Spain had only the translation.