by John Donne (1572 - 1631)

The broken heart
Language: English 
He is stark mad, who ever says, 
That he hath been in love an hour, 
Yet not that love so soon decays, 
But that it can ten in less space devour; 
Who will believe me, if I swear 
That I have had the plague a year? 
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say, 
I saw a flask of powder burn a day? 

Ah, what a trifle is a heart, 
If once into love's hands it come! 
All other griefs allow a part 
To other griefs, and ask themselves but some; 
They come to us, but us Love draws, 
He swallows us, and never chaws: 
By him, as by chain'd shot, whole ranks to die, 
He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry. 
If 'twere not so, what did become 
Of my heart, when I first saw thee? 
I brought a heart into the room, 
But from the room, I carried none with me: 
If it had gone to thee, I know 
Mine would have taught thine heart to show 
More pity unto me: but Love, alas, 
At one first blow did shiver it as glass 

Yet nothing can to nothing fall, 
Nor any place be empty quite, 
Therefore I think my breast hath all 
Those pieces still, though they be not unite; 
And now as broken glasses show 
A hundred lesser faces, so 
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore 
But after one such love, can love no more.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:26
Line count: 32
Word count: 245