by John Donne

TWICE or thrice had I loved thee,
    Before I knew thy face or name ;
    So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be.
    Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I see.
    But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
    More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too ;
    And therefore what thou wert, and who,
        I bid Love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
    And so more steadily to have gone,
    With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught ;
    Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much ; some fitter must be sought ;
    For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere ;
    Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
    So thy love may be my love's sphere ;
        Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air's and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.

Audio Reading by Anniina Jokinen, ©2003.


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Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 21-22.

to John Donne

Copyright © 1996-2014 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinenon August 31, 2003. Last updated August 8, 2014.