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About this Poem 

This version of “The Expiration” was published in Poems of John Donne, Volume 1 (Scribner’s Sons, 1896).

The Expiration

So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,
    Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away;
Turn, thou ghost, that way, and let me turn this,
    And let ourselves benight our happiest day.
We ask none leave to love; nor will we owe
    Any so cheap a death as saying, “Go.”
Go; and if that word have not quite killed thee,
    Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.
Or, if it have, let my word work on me,
    And a just office on a murderer do.
Except it be too late, to kill me so,
    Being double dead, going, and bidding, “Go.”

The poem is in the public domain.

The poem is in the public domain.

John Donne

John Donne

The poet John Donne is known as the founder of the Metaphysical Poets, which included George Herbert and Andrew Marvell, among others.

by this poet


Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls,
For thus, friends absent speak. This ease controls
The tediousness of my life; but for these
I could ideate nothing which could please,
But I should wither in one day and pass
To a bottle of hay, that am a lock of grass.
Life is a voyage,

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash'd, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and
If yet I have not all the love,
Dear, I shall never have it all,
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can entreat one other tear to fall.
All my treasure, which should purchase thee,
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters I have spent,
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant.