Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Valentine's Day

I was introduced to John Donne's poetry in high school and really liked it: he uses some very interesting analogies and ideas in his writing, and I enjoy the paradoxical nature found in many of his works. Much of his poetry is love poetry, so I'm sharing quotes from some of my favorite poems and some that I just discovered tonight. The themes are just as valid today as they were in the 1600s, when they were written. Enjoy! (follow the links for the full poem)

The Broken Heart
He is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash of powder burn a day? 

Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Nor any place be empty quite ;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite ;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
But after one such love, can love no more.

The Undertaking
I have done one braver thing
Than all the Worthies did;
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.

The Computation
FOR my first twenty years, since yesterday,
    I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away ; 
For forty more I fed on favours past, 
    And forty on hopes that thou wouldst they might last ; 
Tears drown'd one hundred, and sighs blew out two ;
    A thousand, I did neither think nor do, 
Or not divide, all being one thought of you ;
    Or in a thousand more, forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life ; but think that I
Am, by being dead, immortal ; can ghosts die ?

And, perhaps my very favorite (Which I'll post in its entirety): 

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," 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 th' 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
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                   
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd 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 aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so                                        
    As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre 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 th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                 
    And makes me end where I begun.  

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