Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sex and Death

I just found out that someone whose spouse I know died, a few months ago.  I didn't hear of the death and found out about it in a roundabout way.  Looking for a poem to send her I stumbled on this one and was on the verge of writing it out when I realized that it was actually about sex. So I'm not sending it to her, although I think she'd enjoy it on both levels.  Oh, how I love 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 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
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,
Inte -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 comapasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th'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 run
Like th'other foot, obliquely run
They firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
--John Donne (1572-1631)

From a lovely collection called Enduring Ties, Poems of Family and Relationships, Edited by Grant Hardy.

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