17th, 18th Century Poets

“Graveyard Poets”
“Churchyard Poets” or “Graveyard Poets” is a critical term applied in retrospect to a number of English poets of the 1740s to the 1790s who wrote in the vein of Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard (1750). These poets are also sometimes called “pre-Romantics.” Despite the name, the term encompasses at least two major works written before Gray’s Elegy: James Thomson’s The Seasons (1726 – 1730) and Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1742 – 1745).

Brood on death, among other deep-plumbing things.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

What the term refers to is a set of characteristics that may apply to all the poets in question. Each member of the “school” writes about melancholy, and each shows an interest in nature. Further, the poets show an interest in “ancient” English poetic forms and folk poetry. Thus, the Churchyard Poets include Thomas Warton, Thomas Percy, Thomas Gray, James MacPherson, Robert Blair, William Collins, Joseph Warton, and even Thomas Chatterton’s forgeries.

Scholars have demonstrated that most of the characteristics of the Churchyard School are not unique to them, that the production of ballads and odes, for example, did not rise in their years. However, these were notable and influential figures who created a stir in the public and, at the very least, gave the impression of a shift in mood and form in English poetry in the second half of the 18th century.

Thomas Gray
Famous for “Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard”

The two versions of the poem, Stanzas and Elegy, approach death differently; the first contains a stoic response to death, but the final version contains an epitaph which serves to repress the narrator’s fear of dying. With its discussion of, and focus on, the obscure and the known, the poem has possible political ramifications, but it does not make any definite claims on politics to be more universal in its approach to life and death.

The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

Epitaph

THE EPITAPH

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav’n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear,
He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Also See:

“On The Death Of A Favourite Cat, Drowned In A Tub Of Gold Fishes”

“The Progress of Poesy”

“The Bard”

Robert Blair, The Grave
WHILST some affect the sun, and some the shade,
Some flee the city, some the hermitage;
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying through life; the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb;

A Scottish poet, his sole work, “The Grave” (1743), is a poem written in blank verse, and is much less conventional than its gloomy title might lead one to expect. Its religious subject no doubt contributed to its great popularity, especially in Scotland. It extends to 767 lines of very various merit, in some passages rising to great sublimity, and in others sinking to commonplace. It inspired William Blake to undertake a series of twelve illustrative designs, which were engraved by Luigi Schiavonetti, and published in 1808.

Robert Burns
Generally classified as a proto-Romantic poet, and he influenced Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley greatly. The Edinburgh literati worked to sentimentalize Burns during his life and after his death, dismissing his education by calling him a “heaven-taught ploughman.” Burns would influence later Scottish writers, especially Hugh MacDiarmid who fought to dismantle the sentimental Burns cult that had dominated Scottish literature in MacDiarmid’s opinion.

Skilled writing in Scots G as well as English.

“A Red, Red Rose”

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve!
And fare thee weel, awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!

See also:
“Tam O’ Shanter: A Tale” (1790)
“A Fond Kiss”

Cavalier Poets
Cavalier Poets is a broad description of a school of English poets of the 17th century, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. Charles, a connoisseur of the fine arts, supported poets who created the art he craved.

Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling

Instead of tackling issues like religion, philosophy, and the arts, cavalier poetry aims to express the joy and simple gratification of celebratory things much livelier than the traditional works of their predecessors.

The common factor that binds the cavaliers together is their use of direct and colloquial language expressive of a highly individual personality, and their enjoyment of the casual, the amateur, the affectionate poem written by the way.

More personal tone, perhaps. Most poems “celebrate beauty, love, nature, sensuality, drinking, good fellowship, honor, and social life.”

Embodies a carpe diem attitude, as shown in “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”. Sexually frank group.

Other characteristics of Cavalier poetry were the metaphor and fantasy

Ben Johnson (1572 – 1637)
English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. He is best known for his plays Volpone and The Alchemist, his lyrics, his influence on Jacobean and Caroline poets, his theory of humours, his contentious personality, and his friendship and rivalry with William Shakespeare.

“To the Memory of My Beloved Master William Shakespeare”
To draw no envy, SHAKSPEARE, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame ;
While I confess thy writings to be such,
As neither Man nor Muse can praise too much.
‘Tis true, and all men’s suffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise ;
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right ;
Or blind affection, which doth ne’er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance ;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin where it seemed to raise…

…But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanced, and made a constellation there !
Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume’s light.

“To Penhurst”
A Country house poem, so called because in this genre, popular at the time, a poet praises a friend (often a patron’s) estate. Hm.

This one is interesting because he doesn’t praise it on merits typically associated with grand estates, but rather because it lacks these. Rather minimalistic, outside the norm of such places, and calls one’s attention to nature. Almost seems to prefigure romantic poetry.

Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show
Of touch or marble, nor canst boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold;
Thou hast no lantern whereof tales are told,
Or stair, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,
And these grudged at, art reverenced the while.

http://vademecumgre.wordpress.com/english-literature-2/17th-and-18th-century-poetry/the-cavalier-poets/ben-jonson/

“On My First Son”
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy ;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father now ! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scaped world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age !
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such
As what he loves may never like too much.

Volpone
Other characters:
MOSCA
VOLTORE
CORBACCIO
CORVINO

Volpone, or The Fox (in Italian: “Big Fox”), is a black comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, and considered one of the finest comedies of the Jacobean period.

Volpone fakes a long illness to pique the expectations of all who aspire to his fortune. Mosca tells each of them, Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, in their turns, that they are to be named Volpone’s heir, thanks to Mosca’s influence. Mosca then announces Volpone’s impending death. The hopeful heirs shower Volpone with gifts. Corbaccio disinherits his own son in Volpone’s favour; Corvino offers Volpone his wife. Complications ensue, and just as Volpone is about to be outsmarted by Mosca, he reveals all in open court and the characters are punished according to their crime and station.

The Alchemist
See this.

Robert Herrick
A Cavalier Poet, Herrick is often associated with a carpe diem theme because of his poem “To the Virgins, Make Much of Time,” a poem that ETS holds in high regard.

Much like the predecessor, Spencer’s “Whilst it is Prime”. Also, Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress”.

His reputation rests on his Hesperides, a collection of lyric poetry, and the much shorter Noble Numbers, spiritual works, published together in 1648. He is well-known for his bawdy style, referring frequently to lovemaking and the female body. Many of his bawdy poems focus on the character of “Julia.”

“To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” (often compared to Marvell’s ‘Coy Mistress’)
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

More Poems
“UPON JULIA’S CLOTHES”

WHENAS in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me!

“Upon Julia’s Breasts”

DISPLAY thy breasts, my Julia—there let me
Behold that circummortal purity,
Between whose glories there my lips I’ll lay,
Ravish’d in that fair via lactea.

“The Night Piece, to Julia” Okay, enough of your creeper’s fixation on Julia.

“Corinna’s Going A-Maying”

(Remember Renaissance author Thomas Campion’s When to her lute Corinna sings”)

it begins:

GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.

Thomas Carew
A Cavalier poet, his elegy to Donne contrasts from the otherwise bawdy, worldly and cynical nature of his poetry.

“An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of St. Paul’s, Dr. John Donne”
“CAN we not force from widow’d poetry,
Now thou art dead, great Donne, one elegy,
To crown thy hearse ? Why yet did we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-baked prose, thy dust,
Such as the unscissor’d lecturer, from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-lived as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, might lay
Upon the ashes on the funeral day ?
Have we nor tune nor voice ? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language both the words and sense ?
‘Tis a sad truth. The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain ;
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures ; but the flame
Of thy brave soul, that shot such heat and light,
As burn’d our earth, and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon the will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach,
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach,
Must be desired for ever. So the fire,
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic choir,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glow’d here awhile, lies quench’d now in thy death…

…And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh let it crack awhile,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.
I will not draw the envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all the loss ;
Those are too numerous for one elegy,
And this too great to be express’d by me.
Let others carve the rest ; it shall suffice
I on thy grave this epitaph incise:—

Here lies a king that ruled, as he thought fit,
The universal monarchy of wit ;
Here lies two flamens, and both those the best :
Apollo’s first, at last the true God’s priest.

Richard Lovelace
Poet and captain in the Bishops Wars. Served king. Imprisoned twice. Wrote some of best poetry in prison.

“To Althea, From Prison.” awesome.
When Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my Gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the Grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fettered to her eye,
The Gods that wanton in the Air,
Know no such Liberty.

When flowing Cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with Roses bound,
Our hearts with Loyal Flames;
When thirsty grief in Wine we steep,
When Healths and draughts go free,
Fishes that tipple in the Deep
Know no such Liberty.

When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how Great should be,
Enlargèd Winds, that curl the Flood,
Know no such Liberty.

Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.

To Lucasta, Going to the Warres
Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace,
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou shalt adore;
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more.

METAPHYSICAL Poets
17th-century. Term first used in 1690 or so by Dryden in criticism of Donne.

Common characteristics of wit (esp. in use of metaphysical conceits), inventiveness, and a love of elaborate stylistic maneuvers.

Passionate but intellectually rigorous. Breakers of convention and decorum, but rigid in their own poetic form.

T.S. Eliot called M poetry the fusion of passion and reason.

Poets:
-John DONNE
-George HERBERT
-Henry VAUGHAN
Edward Herbert
Thomas Carew
Richard Crashaw
-Andrew MARVELL
Richard LOVELACE
Sir John Suckling

Andrew Marvell
Marvell is easy to pick out because of his rhyme schemes, but since the type of schemes he favored were popular at the time, it is also easy to confuse him with his contemporaries.

Often aa bb cc etc. or abab cdcd efef ghgh, etc.

“To his Coy Mistress”
Remember it may be compared to “To the Virgins, to Make Much…”

Marvell is explaining to this coy (here, evasive, resisting) woman that her resistance would be fine if time weren’t an issue and he could slowly admire every part of her body and woo away her resistance for centuries on end, etc., but
alas, we don’t have much time, do we? So…you, me?

“To his Coy Mistress”

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv’d virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am’rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp’d power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

“The Definition of Love”
“The Definition of Love”

My love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high;
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing
Where feeble Hope could ne’er have flown,
But vainly flapp’d its tinsel wing…

…Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.

Other Poems
“On Mr. Milton’s Paradise Lost”

The “Mower” poems

“The Mower Against Gardens” is the first of the “Mower” sequence, an attack on the sophistications of human invention and a praise of Nature’s proper mixture vs. the hybrids’ “Forbidden mixtures” and “nutriment” that changes our kind. The poem’s disgust with the freaks produced by science is balanced with the praise of Nature’s “wild and fragrant innocence” (34).

“Damon the Mower” exploits the figure of paradox in eleven 8-line stanzas of tetrameter couplets. The mistress’s “cruelty,” refusing to return Damon’s love, distracts the mower until his scythe does to him what he did to the grass. The figure of love as a wound also is used-it could be compared with many a Petrarchan conceit, but here it is combined with the pastoral mode.

“The Mower to the Glowworms” continues to evoke the distracting and destructive effects of love by wishing the glowworms might show the Mower the way back to himself, which he has lost in his delirium.

“The Mower’s Song” continues the “mower mown” paradox of “Damon” within a more complex stanza structure. Note that, throughout the poem, Damon is unable to simply name the deed by which he makes his living (“to mow”) and instead employs circumlocution.

“The Garden” returns to the praise of idealized Nature and contrasts it with the fallen state of things under human domination. The quest to re-imagine the un-fallen world leads the poet to a kind of ekstasis in which his language becomes almost nonsense: what exactly would one be thinking were one to think “a green thought in a green shade” (48). This return to Eden leads the persona to imagine God-the-Gardener and Adam as the first Gardener’s helper. This has direct relevance for Milton, who was Marvell’s mentor and predecessor as Cromwell’s Latin Secretary.

“An Horatian Ode: Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland”

Laments regicide of K Charles I, even while praising Cromwell.

George Herbert
Herbert’s poems are characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility, and an ingenious use of imagery or conceits that was favored by the metaphysical school of poets.

Carefully arranged in related sequences, the poems explore and celebrate the ways of God’s love as Herbert discovered them within the fluctuations of his own experience.

“Easter-Wings”
( for his actual typography, see http://vademecumgre.wordpress.com/english-literature-2/17th-and-18th-century-poetry/the-metaphysical-poets/george-herbert/)

“Easter-Wings”

LORD, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poor:

With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories :
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.

With thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day thy victorie,
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

“The Altar”
(Again, the typography forms an altar of sorts)

“The Altar”

A broken A L T A R, Lord, thy servant reares,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch’d the same.
A H E A R T alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name;
That, if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed S A C R I F I C E be mine,
And sanctifie this A L T A R to be thine.

“The Pulley”
“The Pulley”

WHEN God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by ;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can :
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way ;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottome lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature :
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlesnesse :
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse
May tosse him to my breast.

“The Collar”
“The Collar”

I STRUCK the board, and cry’d, No more ;
I will abroad.
What ? shall I ever sigh and pine ?
My lines and life are free ; free as the rode,
Loose as the winde, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit ?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me bloud, and not restore
What I have lost with cordiall fruit ?
Sure there was wine,
Before my sighs did drie it : there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the yeare onely lost to me ?
Have I no bayes to crown it ?
No flowers, no garlands gay ? all blasted ?
All wasted ?
Not so, my heart : but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures : leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit, and not forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away ; take heed:
I will abroad.
Call in thy deaths head there : tie up thy fears.
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need,
Deserves his load.
But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde,
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Childe :
And I reply’d, My Lord.

John Donne
John Donne was a Jacobean metaphysical poet. His works include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, and sermons. Donne will certainly appear on your GRE exam, and he has plenty that is worth studying.

Donne’s works are also witty, employing paradoxes, puns, and subtle yet remarkable analogies. His pieces are often ironic and cynical, especially regarding love and human motives. Common subjects of Donne’s poems are love (especially in his early life), death (especially after his wife’s death), and religion

John Donne’s poetry represented a shift from classical forms to more personal poetry. Donne is noted for his poetic metre, which was structured with changing and jagged rhythms that closely resemble casual speech (it was for this that the more classical-minded Ben Jonson commented that “Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging”).

“The Canonization”
“The Canonization”

FOR God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray 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 stamp’d face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

Alas ! alas ! who’s injured 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’s what you will, we are made such by love ;
Call her one, me another fly,
We’re 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 tomb or 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 canonized 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.”

“THE FLEA”
“THE FLEA”

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

“A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”
“A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” 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
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd 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 aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre 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,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

“The Sun Rising”
“The Sun Rising”

This poem is an aubade, or a poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn.

BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”

She’s all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Holy Sonnets: XIV
Holy Sonnets: XIV

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

*Holy Sonnets: X
*Holy Sonnets: X

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture[s] be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke ; why swell’st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ; Death, thou shalt die.

The Broken Heart
In “The Broken Heart,” John Donne uses imagery to reveal his view of love as a powerful, consuming, and cruel force. He says being in love for an hour is unlikely because love would have consumed ten people in that time. Similar to him, improbably, surviving a year being consumed by the plague, or seeing flashpowder burn for an entire day, etc. So it is with love’s intense consuming of him over a long period of time.

HE is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour;
Who will believe me, if I swear 5
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash 1 of powder burn a day?

Ah, what a trifle is a heart,
If once into love’s hands it come! 10
All other griefs allow a part
To other griefs, and ask themselves but some;
They come to us, but us love draws;
He swallows us and never chaws;
By him, as by chain’d shot, whole ranks do die; 15
He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry. 2

If ’twere not so, what did become
Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
But from the room I carried none with me. 20
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
More pity unto me; but Love, alas!
At one first blow did shiver it as glass.

Yet nothing can to nothing fall, 25
Nor any place be empty quite;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so 30
My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
But after one such love, can love no more.

“Air and Angels”
“Air and Angels”

TWICE or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name ;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp’d be.
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too ;
And therefore what thou wert, and who,
I bid Love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
And so more steadily to have gone,
With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love’s pinnace overfraught ;
Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much ; some fitter must be sought ;
For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere ;
Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
So thy love may be my love’s sphere ;
Just such disparity
As is ‘twixt air’s and angels’ purity,
‘Twixt women’s love, and men’s, will ever be.

Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

Other Poems
“The Ecstacy”

WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
A pregnant bank swell’d up, to rest
The violet’s reclining head,
Sat we two, one another’s best.

Our hands were firmly cemented
By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string…
…And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change when we’re to bodies gone.

An Anatomy of the World

Wherein, by occasion of the untimely death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury, the frailty and the decay of this whole world is represented THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY.

It begins:
When that rich soul which to her heaven is gone,
Whom all do celebrate, who know they have one
(For who is sure he hath a soul, unless
It see, and judge, and follow worthiness,
And by deeds praise it? He who doth not this,
May lodge an inmate soul, but ’tis not his)
When that queen ended here her progress time,
And, as t’her standing house, to heaven did climb,
Where loath to make the saints attend her long,
She’s now a part both of the choir, and song;
This world, in that great earthquake languished;
For in a common bath of tears it bled,
Which drew the strongest vital spirits out…

…Steward to fate; she whose rich eyes and breast
Gilt the West Indies, and perfum’d the East;
Whose having breath’d in this world, did bestow
Spice on those Isles, and bade them still smell so,
And that rich India which doth gold inter,
Is but as single money, coin’d from her;
She to whom this world must it self refer,
As suburbs or the microcosm of her,
She, she is dead; she’s dead: when thou know’st this,
Thou know’st how lame a cripple this world is.