Daily Dash of Romance vol. 2

A portrait of John Donne from the National Portrait Gallery in London

Today’s Dash comes from love poet master, John Donne. His words inspire me regularly. (Look for him again in the epigraph of Rapture!) Like The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis, this poem centers around two departing lovers, but in this case, this speaker finds reasons to celebrate the separation. Take a look:

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

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 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.

The best poems (and books and songs and paintings) give us something new to admire and enjoy each time we return to them. I was hooked by the speaker’s suggestion in the fourth stanza that his love is so elevated it resides above the moon. (Look for elements of this in Roland’s story withinFallen in Love). Today I am particularly struck by two images towards the end of the poem: The first in lines 21-24 suggests that because the lovers’ two souls are joined, when they are apart theyexpand and their love fills in the space between them. And the second says that if their souls are in fact two–they are like a compass, one always pulling the other toward it during periods of separation. It reminded me of Luce and Daniel–and I hope it inspires you too.

Until tomorrow,

Lauren

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2 Comments

  1. This poem is fantastic! I have a John Donne collection book that I’ve barely started, but this is inspiring me to read more into it. Another poet I love is Emily Bronte. She has this tragic, romantic,and sometimes other worldly feel to her poems that I love. Thanks for sharing this!

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