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The Canonization -- John Donne

Guest poem submitted by Divya Sampath:
(Poem #866) The Canonization
 For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
     Or chide my palsy, or my gout,
     My five grey hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout,
 With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,
         Take you a course, get you a place,
         Observe his Honour, or his Grace,
 Or the King's real, or his stamped face
     Contemplate, what you will, approve,
     So you will let me love.

 Alas, alas, who's injur'd by my love?
     What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?
     Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?
 When did my colds a forward spring remove?
         When did the heats which my veins fill
         Add one more to the plaguy bill?
 Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
     Litigious men, which quarrels move,
     Though she and I do love.

 Call us what you will, we are made such by love;
     Call her one, me another fly,
     We are tapers too, and at our own cost die,
 And we in us find th' eagle and the dove.
         The phoenix riddle hath more wit
         By us; we two being one, are it.
 So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit,
     We die and rise the same, and prove
     Mysterious by this love.

 We can die by it, if not live by love,
     And if unfit for tombs and hearse
     Our legend be, it will be fit for verse;
 And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
         We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms;
         As well a well-wrought urn becomes
 The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
     And by these hymns all shall approve
     Us canoniz'd for love;

 And thus invoke us: "You, whom reverend love
     Made one another's hermitage;
     You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;
 Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove
         Into the glasses of your eyes
         (So made such mirrors, and such spies,
 That they did all to you epitomize)
     Countries, towns, courts: beg from above
     A pattern of your love!"
-- John Donne
John Donne has always been one of my favorites among the metaphysical poets.
I particularly like this poem, which contends  that  his love, while not the
sort that inspires epic poetry or is immortalised in tragic plays, is still
worthy - "and if no piece of chronicle we prove / we'll build in sonnets
pretty rooms."



Donne, John (1572-1631), English poet, prose writer, and clergyman,
considered the greatest of the metaphysical poets and one of the greatest
writers of love poetry.

Donne was born in London; at the age of 11 he entered the University of
Oxford, where he studied for three years. According to some accounts, he
spent the next three years at the University of Cambridge but took no degree
at either university. He began the study of law at Lincoln's Inn, London, in
1592. About two years later, presumably, he relinquished the Roman Catholic
faith, in which he had been brought up, and joined the Anglican church. His
first book of poems, Satires, written during this period of residence in
London, is considered one of Donne's most important literary efforts.
Although not immediately published, the volume had a fairly wide readership
through private circulation of the manuscript, as did his love poems, Songs
and Sonnets, written at about the same time as the Satires.

The poetry of Donne is characterized by complex imagery and irregularity of
form. He frequently employed the conceit, an elaborate metaphor making
striking syntheses of apparently unrelated objects or ideas. His
intellectuality, introspection, and use of colloquial diction, seemingly
unpoetic but always uniquely precise in meaning and connotation, make his
poetry boldly divergent from the smooth, elegant verse of his day. The
content of his love poetry, often both cynical and sensuous, represents a
reaction against the sentimental Elizabethan sonnet, and this work
influenced the attitudes of the Cavalier poets. Those 17th-century religious
poets sometimes referred to as the metaphysical poets, including Richard
Crashaw, George Herbert, and Henry Vaughan, drew much inspiration from the
imagery and spirituality of Donne's religious poetry. Donne was almost
forgotten during the 18th century, but interest in his work developed during
the 19th century, and his popularity reached new heights after the 1920s,
when Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot acknowledged his influence. Donne also wrote
the Anniversaries, an elegy in two parts (1611-1612); collections of essays;
and six collections of sermons.

        -- [broken link]

[Minstrels Links]

John Donne:
Poem #330, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Poem #384, Song
Poem #403, A Lame Beggar
Poem #465, The Sun Rising
Poem #796, Death Be Not Proud (Holy Sonnets: X)

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