Category Archives: John Donne

Love’s Infiniteness

John Donne

(1573-1631)

John Donne, as Dean of St. Paul’s, brought to the religious themes of his later life the same ardor that characterized the love poems of his worldly youth.  For Donne possessed the quality of unified faculties: he was able to move back and forth between the experience of the mind and of the senses, between the spiritual and the physical, the earthly and the divine, seeing one in terms of another through the infusing power of his intellect.  It is this complex of intellect and feeling, and the ability to translate the one into the other, that gives Donne’s poetry its power and originality.

 

 

 

If yet I have not all thy love,

Dear, I shall never have it all,

I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move;

Nor can entreat one other tear to fall,

 

And all my treasure, which should purchase thee,

Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters I have spent.

Yet no more can be due to me,

Than at the bargain made was meant,

If then thy gift of love were partial,

That some to me, some should to others fall,

Dear, I shall never have thee all.

 

Or if then thou gavest me all,

All was but all, which thou hadst then;

But if in thy heart, since, there be or shall,

New love created be, by other men,

Which have their stocks entire, and can in tears,

In sighs, in oaths, and letters outbid me,

This new love may beget new fears,

For, this love was not vowed by thee.

And yet it was, thy gift being general,

The ground; thy heart is mine, what ever shall

Grow there, dear, I should have it all.

 

Yet I would not have all yet;

He that hath all can have no more,

And since my love doth every day admit

New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store;

Thou canst not every day give me thy heart,

If thou canst give it, then thou never gavest it;

Love’s riddles are, that though thy heart depart,

It stays at home, and thou with losing savest it;

But we will have a way more liberal,

Than changing hearts, to join them, so we shall

Be one, and one another’s all.

 

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