Dec 272016
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is that holy fire, which verse is said
To have? Is that enchanting force decay’d?
Verse that draws nature’s works from nature’s law,
Thee, her best work, to her work cannot draw.
Have my tears quench’d my old poetic fire?
Why quench’d they not as well that of desire?
Thoughts, my mind’s creatures, often are with thee,
But I, their maker, want their liberty.
Only thine image in my heart doth sit,
But that is wax, and fires environ it.
My fires have driven, thine have drawn it hence;
And I am robb’d of picture, heart, and sense.
Dwells with me still mine irksome memory,
Which, both to keep and lose, grieves equally.
That tells me how fair thou art; thou art so fair
As gods, when gods to thee I do compare,
Are graced thereby; and to make blind men see,
What things gods are, I say they’re like to thee.
For if we justly call each silly man
A little world, what shall we call thee then?
Thou art not soft, and clear, and straight, and fair,
As down, as stars, cedars, and lilies are;
But thy right hand, and cheek, and eye, only
Are like thy other hand, and cheek, and eye.
Such was my Phao awhile, but shall be never,
As thou wast, art, and O, mayst thou be ever.
Here lovers swear in their idolatry,
That I am such; but grief discolours me.
And yet I grieve the less, lest grief remove
My beauty, and make me unworthy of thy love.

John Donne, Sappho to Philaenis

May 272014
 

pyle_mermaidAs virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“The breath goes now,” and some say, “No,”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of the earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we, by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two:
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do;

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like the other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

John Donne

Jun 272010
 

As virtuous men pass mildly away,

And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say

“The breath goes now’, and some say ‘no’.

So let us melt, and make no noise,

No tear-floods nor sigh-tempests move:

‘Twere profanation of our joys

To tell the laity our love.

Moving of the earth brings harms and fears –

Men reckon what it did and meant:

But trepidation of the spheres –

Though greater far – is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love

(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence because it doth remove

Those things which elemented it;

But we, by a love so much refined

That we ourselves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind.

Care less eyes,  lips and hands to miss.

Our souls, therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach but an expansion –

Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two –

They soul, the fixed foot, makes no show

To move, but doth if th’other do.

And, though it in the centre sit,

Yet, when th’other far doth roam,

It leans, and hearkens after it,

And grows erect as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,

Like th’other foot, obliquely run:

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

And makes me end where I begun

A Valediction: forbidding Mourning, John Donne