Treasure Island

John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

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Confined Love


Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser
If on womankind he might his anger wreak,
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know;
But are other creatures so?

Are Sun, Moon, or Stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced, or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a-night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose,
But we are made worse than those.

Who e'er rigged fair ship to lie in harbours
And not to seek new lands, or not to deal withal?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbors,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good unless
A thousand it possess,
But dost waste with greediness.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Karen Sinclair (5/16/2013 4:02:00 AM)

    A great thought process worth considering.... i wonder how many of his time wandered up this track.... or stayed due to responsibility or loyalty....karen (Report) Reply

  • Miss Archie (5/16/2013 3:30:00 AM)

    I see advocacy for polygamy and open relationships. Though I tend to rally for confined love, this is a beautiful piece. (Report) Reply

  • Ebi Robert (5/16/2012 1:31:00 PM)

    Donne is a genius. I saw what he did in the flea' i know him to be thus a great grey! (Report) Reply

  • . . (5/16/2010 7:20:00 AM)

    Interesting that he makes the point of confined love barely being love at all, but rather, the ownership of another. I think that is the point of his last line...the greed is our apparent need to own love. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (5/16/2010 2:40:00 AM)

    Love cannot thrive on hurdles! If there are many how can there be love? But natural things cannot be restrained by law ever! (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (5/16/2009 11:29:00 AM)

    Written in that time frame, this poem was really political. Expressing one's self. KINGS & QUEENS ruled the roost. Art was flourishing. But, human freedom was oppressed by them CASTLES. The poem asking the reader the question of liberty. Many crossed the ocean to the New Land for freedoms from them KINGS & QUEENS. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (5/16/2009 5:21:00 AM)

    I find it difficult to reconcile Donne's plea for free love and his lame last line eschewing greed. This poem could have been the apologia of the 60s. The fact is 'The expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action...' (Report) Reply

  • Mary Grace (5/16/2005 7:55:00 AM)

    When I read the first lines of this poem they sounded strangely familiar to me, then when a strangely familiar melody came to my mind as well, I found out that I know this poem as it was turned into a beautiful and very powerful song by the Inchtabokatables. (Report) Reply

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