Nicely Donne

Thursday 14 August 2014

As I may have mentioned, I'm currently writing a romantic trilogy. The romance is passionate and intense and there seems to be a genuine spark between Bill and Trudy, the two central characters. 

I think it would be possible to summarise the depth of their relationship with this quote from John Donne's 'The Good-Morrow'.

"I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved?

Donne was a contemporary of Shakespeare and his writing is often labelled as 'metaphysical.' Although he enjoyed some popularity in his lifetime there was a long while after his death when his poetry wasn't being read.

Which is sad. 

When I read those first fourteen syllables I'm instantly reminded of the totality of love. Donne's words, written four hundred years ago, still ring true. What the hell were we doing before we were in this relationship? What was life like before being part of a couple? This isn't just something that crosses my mind. It's a phenomena I've heard discussed by friends and I've seen in colleagues. 

I'll be playing some of Donne's work on my radio show over the weekend. Aside from some of Donne's love poetry I'll also be playing recordings of his Holy Sonnets. My only issue with these religious works is that I can't read the words 'Holy Sonnets' without thinking that Robin is shouting them to Batman ("Holy sonnets, Batman!") But I guess that's just my own personal issue. 

If you're interested in reading the rest of Donne's poem, it's in the public domain and reprinted here for your convenience.

The Good-Morrow
John Donne

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

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