Babette Deutsch

The Dispassionate Shepherdess

Do not live with me, do not be my love. 
And yet I think we may some pleasures prove 
That who enjoy each other, in the haste 
Of their most inward kissing, seldom taste. 

Being absent from me, you shall still delay 

To come to me, and if another day, 

No matter, so your greeting burn as though 

The words had all the while been packed in snow. 

No other gift you'll offer me but such 
As I can neither wear, nor smell, nor touch — 
No flowers breathing of evening, and no stones 
Whose chilly fire outlasts our skeletons. 

You'll give me once a thought that stings, and once 
A look to make my blood doubt that it runs. 
You'll give me rough and sharp perplexities, 
And never, never will you give me ease. 

For one another's blessing not designed, 
Marked for possession only of the mind, 
And soon, because such cherishing is brief, 
To ask whereon was founded the belief 

That there was anything at all uncommon 

In what each felt for each as man and woman — 

If this then be our case, if this our story, 

Shall we rail at heaven? Shall we, at worst, be sorry? 

Heaven's too deaf, we should grow hoarse with railing, 
And sorrow never quickened what was failing. 
But if you think we thus may pleasures prove, 
Do not live with me, do not be my love.