Jerry's Cruising Poems

The Bait

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
Warmed by thy eyes, more than the sun.
And there th'enamoured 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 darkenest 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, sleavesilk flies
Bewitch poor fishes' wandering eyes.

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

John Donne 1633

This poem was published 33 years after Marlowe's “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and its “answers” but there is no doubt that Donne read the earlier poems and wanted to make his own contribution to the fun.

Click to read “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe
Click to read “The Nymph's Reply” perhaps by Sir Walter Raleigh
Click to read “Another of the Same Nature, Made Since” Anonymous
Click to read “To Phyllis” by Robert Herrick
Click to read “The Passionate Sailor to His Love” by Jerry