John Donne, born in 1572 in London, was a founder of the Metaphysical Poets, known for their paradoxical images and inventive syntax.
He lived through a period of theological and political unrest, experienced a tumultuous relationship with religion and ultimately joined the Anglican Church after personal and societal pressures.
He held various positions, including private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton and Royal Chaplain to James I.
His writing included love lyrics, erotic verse, sacred poems and private prayers, reflecting his complex relationship with religion, love and death.
Despite facing social and financial instability, his work and charismatic preaching made him a highly influential figure until his death in 1631.
I have handpicked the top quotes from John Donne in this article.
Best John Donne Quotes
Death is an ascension to a better library. ~ John Donne.
We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms. ~ John Donne.
Love is a growing, or full, constant light, and his first minute, after noon, is night. ~ John Donne.
Who are a little wise the best fools be. ~ John Donne.
We give each other a smile with a future in it. ~ John Donne.
I wonder, by my troth, what thou, and I did, till we lov’d. ~ John Donne.
Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail. ~ John Donne.
If I dream I have you, I have you. For all our joys are but fantastical. ~ John Donne.
She and comparisons are odious. ~ John Donne.
Send me nor this, nor that, to increase my store. But swear thou think’st I love thee, and no more. ~ John Donne.
More than kisses, letters mingle souls. For, thus friends absent speak. ~ John Donne.
Art is the most passionate orgy within man’s grasp. ~ John Donne.
Popular John Donne Quotes
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. ~ John Donne.
Stay, o sweet, and do not rise. The light that shines comes from thine eyes. The day breaks not, it is my heart, because that you and I must part. ~ John Donne.
All other things to their destruction draw. Only our love hath no decay. ~ John Donne.
I joy that in these straits I see my west. ~ John Donne.
And who understands? Not me, because if I did I would forgive it all. ~ John Donne.
True joy is the earnestness which we have of heaven, it is the treasure of the soul, and therefore should be laid in a safe place, and nothing in this world is safe to place it in. ~ John Donne.
Then love is sin, and let me sinful be. ~ John Donne.
I did best when I had the least truth for my subjects. ~ John Donne.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. ~ John Donne.
To know and feel all this and not have the words to express it makes a human a grave of his own thoughts. ~ John Donne.
My world’s both parts, and ‘o! Both parts must die. ~ John Donne.
Top John Donne Quotes
Doubt wisely in a strange way. To stand inquiring right, is not to stray. To sleep, or run wrong, is. ~ John Donne.
Let not thy divining heart forethink me any ill. Destiny may take thy part, and may thy fears fulfill. ~ John Donne.
I can love her, and her, and you, and you. I can love any, so she be not true. ~ John Donne.
I long to talk with some old lover’s ghost. Who died before the god of love was born. ~ John Donne.
Whatever dies was not mixed equally, if our two loves be one or thou and I love so alike that none can slacken, none can die. ~ John Donne.
I am two fools, I know, for loving, and for saying so. ~ John Donne.
I count all that part of my life lost which I spent not in communion with God, or in doing good. ~ John Donne.
Years and years unto years, till we attain. To write three scores, this is the second of our reign. ~ John Donne.
Love, built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies. ~ John Donne.
Famous John Donne Quotes
True and false fears let us refrain. Let us love nobly, and live, and add again. ~ John Donne.
We can die by it, if not live by love, and if unfit for tombs and hearse our legend be, it will be fit for verse. ~ John Donne.
How much shall I be changed, before I am changed! ~ John Donne.
Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so. ~ John Donne.
Thou, sun, art half as happy as we. ~ John Donne.
To be no part of any body, is to be nothing. ~ John Donne.
Filled with her love, may I be rather grown mad with much heart, then idiot with none. ~ John Donne.
Since you would save none of me, I bury some of you. ~ John Donne.
Other men’s crosses are not my crosses. ~ John Donne.
Ultimate John Donne Quotes
That thou remember them, some claim as debt. I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget. ~ John Donne.
In heaven, it is always Autumn. ~ John Donne.
You are earth, he whom you tread upon is no less, and he that treads upon you is no more. ~ John Donne.
Old grandsires talk of yesterday with sorrow, and for our children we reserve tomorrow. ~ John Donne.
That soul that can reflect upon itself, consider itself, is more than so. ~ John Donne.
I am a little world made cunningly. ~ John Donne.
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame, angels affect us often. ~ John Donne.
Pleasure is none, if not diversified. ~ John Donne.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce. For, he tames it, that fetters it in verse. ~ John Donne.
Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. ~ John Donne.
Wise John Donne Quotes
Thy sins and hairs may no man equal call, for as thy sins increase, thy hairs do fall. ~ John Donne.
Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved with mankind. ~ John Donne.
Men perish with whispering sins-nay, with silent sins, sins that never tell the conscience that they are sins. ~ John Donne.
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore my love was infinite, if spring makes it more. ~ John Donne.
Twice or thrice had I lov’d thee, before I knew thy face or name. ~ John Donne.
I observe the physician with the same diligence as the disease. ~ John Donne.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears and true plain hearts do in the faces rest. ~ John Donne.
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee, and in this flea our two bloods mingled be. ~ John Donne.
For love, all love, of other sights controls and makes one little room everywhere. ~ John Donne.
Never send to know for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for thee. ~ John Donne.
Wicked is not much worse than indiscreet. ~ John Donne.
I fix mine eye on thine, and there pity my picture burning in thine eye. ~ John Donne.
Inspiring John Donne Quotes
The sun must not set upon anger, much less will I let the sun set upon the anger of God towards me. ~ John Donne.
Lust-bred diseases rot thee. ~ John Donne.
No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. ~ John Donne.
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell. And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well. ~ John Donne.
All measures, and all language, I should pass. Should I tell what a miracle she was? ~ John Donne.
Howling is the noise of hell, singing the voice of heaven. ~ John Donne.
O Lord, never suffer us to think that we can stand by ourselves, and not need thee. ~ John Donne.
There is nothing that God hath established in a constant course of nature, and which therefore is done every day, but would seem a miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done but once. ~ John Donne.
For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love. ~ John Donne.
Sleep with clean hands, either kept clean all day by integrity or washed clean at night by repentance. ~ John Donne.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee. As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be to taste whole joys. ~ John Donne.
Nature hath no goal, though she hath law. ~ John Donne.
Young beauties force our love, and that’s a rape, this doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape. ~ John Donne.
Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. ~ John Donne.
Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification. ~ John Donne.
Death, thou shalt die. ~ John Donne.
But yet thou canst not die, I know. To leave this world behind, is death. ~ John Donne.
He that desires to print a book, should much more desire, to be a book. ~ John Donne.
For thee, thou need’st no such deceit. For thou thyself art thine own bait. That fish, that is not catch’d thereby, alas, is wiser far than I. ~ John Donne.
Short John Donne Quotes
O, my America! My new found land. My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned. ~ John Donne.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space. ~ John Donne.
I shall not live ’till I see God, and when I have seen Him, I shall never die. ~ John Donne.
No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face. ~ John Donne.
As he that fears God fears nothing else, so he that sees God sees everything else. ~ John Donne.
Hither with crystal phials, lovers, come and take my tears, which are love’s wine. ~ John Donne.
But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. ~ John Donne.
Despair is the damp of hell, as joy is the serenity of heaven. ~ John Donne.
Call us what you will, we are made such by love. ~ John Donne.
God employs several translators, some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice. ~ John Donne.
But come bad chance, and we joined our strength, and we teach it art and length. ~ John Donne.
Hee that hath all can have no more. ~ John Donne.
Thy firmness makes my circle just, and makes me end where I begun. ~ John Donne.
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow, but yet the body is his book. ~ John Donne.
Stand still, and I will read to thee. A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy. ~ John Donne.
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow, die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. ~ John Donne.
That our affections kill us not, nor die. ~ John Donne.
So these were 99 top John Donne quotes and sayings.