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Song -- John Donne

Guest poem submitted by Anustup Datta :
(Poem #384) Song
Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devils foot;
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights
Till Age snow white hairs on thee;
Thou, when thou return'st wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one let me know;
Such a pilgrimage were sweet.
Yet do not; I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet.
Though she were true when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two or three.
-- John Donne
Here is Donne at his bitterest - the disappointed lover reviles
womankind and bemoans his own fortune as well. But like all of Donne's
poetry, it is simply beautiful : read aloud the wonderful first stanza
and you would know why Tagore rated Donne the greatest lyric poet in the
English tongue.

Anustup.

PS. I have always felt that Donne's use of difficult argument, complex
metaphor and allegory was a device to control and discipline his wildly
romantic heart - he treads over-carefully like a drunk who does not
trust his own tottering footsteps.

48 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

John Allnutt said...

this poem is not john donne's "song". im not familiar with this poem,
but "song" begins with "sweetest love, i do not go / for weariness of
thee,...."

Joan McMillan said...

I love that poem, that outstanding woman and the truth she speaks! A"phenomenal woman" and then some!

Iona McMillan

Hcrltn said...

I don't know if this message will actually get to John Allnutt
concerning the title "Song," but this poem IS entitled such. The
"Sweetest love, I do not go..." is also titled "Song." There are two
"Song(s)." Besides, Donne never titled his poems. Editors did.

--Heather

anne-marie gaudefroy said...

Hi! I am French and my name is Aur?lie;could you give me some help with john Donne's song"sweetest love I do not go"? thanks beforehand!

Omar Aftab said...

I've always loved this poem, but the lines:

"And find

What wind

Serves to advance an honest mind"

Ruins the melodic, rhyming quality for me. Rather like Blake's "The Tiger":

"Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

Most annoying. And yes, I know that "symmetry" and "wind" might have been
pronounced differently, but jarring nevertheless.

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Vanessa Lund said...

Actually, this IS the poem "Song" by John Donne. You are both correct as Donne had several poems entitled "Song" by the publishers. The one printed here is also sometimes entitled by its first line.

Vanessa Lund said...

Actually, this IS the poem "Song" by John Donne. You are both correct as Donne had several poems entitled "Song" by the publishers. The one printed here is also sometimes entitled by its first line.

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