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A Lame Beggar -- John Donne

(Poem #403) A Lame Beggar
 I am unable, yonder beggar cries,
 To stand, or move; if he say true, he lies.
-- John Donne
A humorous, if unsympathetic couplet - the surface meaning is, of course, a
play on 'lies', but I feel the poem is, in a deeper sense, an attack on
those who blithely disregard logic in their quest for a good emotional
appeal. To say nothing of those who respond uncritically to such appeals. In
other words, a poem wholly in line with my views on the subject <g>.

The other reason I like it is something I've had occasion to mention before
- you or I might have noticed the opportunity for a pun, and even commented
on the incongruity, but only a poet would have thought to immortalised it in
verse[1]. And quite apart[2] from its poetic merits, such 'incidental' verse
is a highly attractive art form - a combination of perceptiveness and
craftsmanship that highlights the sheer pleasure of writing. No, this is
hardly one of Donne's masterpieces, but it is nonetheless a poem well worth

[1] duh
[2] well, not *quite* apart, but 'poetry' is not the primary standard I
judge it on


Here's a biography of Donne, and a bit on the metaphysical poets as a bonus:
poem #330

I considered digging up a list of other such incidental poems on Minstrels,
but there are a lot of them and I'm tired :) And I won't include a list of
other metaphysical poems, since I don't think this one quite qualifies.

-- martin

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