| UPON this Primrose hill,
Where, if heaven would distil
A shower of rain, each several drop might go
To his own primrose, and grow manna so ;
And where their form, and their infinity
Make a terrestrial galaxy,
As the small stars do in the
I walk to find a true love ; and I see
That 'tis not a mere woman, that is she,
But must or more or less than woman be.
Yet know I not, which flower
I wish ; a six, or four ;
For should my true-love less than woman be,
She were scarce anything ; and then, should she
Be more than woman, she would get above
All thought of sex, and think
My heart to study her, and
not to love.
Both these were monsters ; since there must reside
Falsehood in woman, I could more abide,
She were by art, than nature falsified.
Live, primrose, then, and
With thy true number five ;
And, woman, whom this flower doth represent,
With this mysterious number be content ;
Ten is the farthest number ; if half ten
Belongs to each woman, then
Each woman may take half us
Or—if this will not serve their turn—since all
Numbers are odd, or even, and they fall
First into five, women may take us all.
Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 64-65.
|"Primrose." Primula vulgaris.
©1997-2000 Russ Collins.
Used with permission.