The Undertaking by John Donne

Updated: Dec 14, 2019




Opposing his own view in "Go and Catch a Falling Star," Donne explains to us how to be braver than one of the nine worithes (Hector, Alexander the Great, Julius Ceasar, Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Boullion.)


To be greater then these men, in one area at least, we must simply love a woman for her inner virtues as opposed to her outer virtues. Oh and it's even better to not tell anyone about it!



THE UNDERTAKING.

by John Donne


I have done one braver thing

Than all the worthies did ;

And yet a braver thence doth spring,

Which is, to keep that hid.


It were but madness now to impart

The skill of specular stone,

When he, which can have learn'd the art

To cut it, can find none.


So, if I now should utter this,

Others—because no more

Such stuff to work upon, there is—

Would love but as before.


But he who loveliness within

Hath found, all outward loathes,

For he who color loves, and skin,

Loves but their oldest clothes.


If, as I have, you also do

Virtue in woman see,

And dare love that, and say so too,

And forget the He and She ;


And if this love, though placèd so,

From profane men you hide,

Which will no faith on this bestow,

Or, if they do, deride ;


Then you have done a braver thing

Than all the Worthies did ;

And a braver thence will spring,

Which is, to keep that hid.