The Comparison

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As the sweet sweat of roses in a still,As that which from chaf'd musk cat's pores doth trill,As the almighty balm of th' early east,Such are the sweat drops of my mistress' breast;And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,They seem no sweat drops, but pearl carcanets.Rank sweaty froth thy mistress' brow defiles,Like spermatic issue of ripe menstruous boils,Or like the scum, which, by need's lawless lawEnforced, Sanserra's starved men did drawFrom parboil'd shoes and boots, and all the restWhich were with any sovereign fatness blessed;And like vile lying stones in saffron'd tin,Or warts, or wheals, it hangs upon her skin.Round as the world's her head, on every side,Like to the fatal ball which fell on Ide;Or that whereof God had such jealousy,As for the ravishing thereof we die.Thy head is like a rough-hewn statue of jet,Where marks for eyes, nose, mouth, are yet scarce set ;Like the first chaos, or flat seeming faceOf Cynthia, when th' earth's shadows her embrace.Like Proserpine's white beauty-keeping chest,Or Jove's best fortune's urn, is her fair breast.Thine's like worm-eaten trunks, clothed in seal's skin,Or grave, that's dust without, and stink within.And like that slender stalk, at whose end standsThe woodbine quivering, are her arms and hands.Like rough-bark'd elm-boughs, or the russet skinOf men late scourged for madness, or for sin,Like sun-parch'd quarters on the city gate,Such is thy tann'd skin's lamentable state;And like a bunch of ragged carrots standThe short swollen fingers of thy gouty hand.Then like the chemic's masculine equal fire,Which in the limbeck's warm womb doth inspireInto th' earth's worthless dirt a soul of gold,Such cherishing heat her best loved part doth hold.Thine's like the dread mouth of a fired gun,Or like hot liquid metals newly runInto clay moulds, or like to that Etna,Where round about the grass is burnt away.Are not your kisses then as filthy, and more,As a worm sucking an envenom'd sore?Doth not thy fearful hand in feeling quake,As one which gathering flowers still fears a snake?Is not your last act harsh and violent,As when a plough a stony ground doth rent?So kiss good turtles, so devoutly niceAre priests in handling reverent sacrifice,And such in searching wounds the surgeon is,As we, when we embrace, or touch, or kiss.Leave her, and I will leave comparing thus,She and comparisons are odious.

© John Donne