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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Songs and Sonnets
The Ecstacy
 
WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
  A pregnant bank swell’d up, to rest
The violet’s reclining 1 head,
  Sat we two, one another’s best. 2
 
Our hands were firmly cemented        5
  By a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
  Our eyes upon one double string.
 
So to engraft 3 our hands, as yet
  Was all the means to make us one;        10
And pictures in our eyes to get
  Was all our propagation.
 
As, ’twixt two equal armies, Fate
  Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls—which to advance their state, 4        15
  Were gone out—hung ’twixt her and me.
 
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
  We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
  And we said nothing, all the day.        20
 
If any, so by love refined,
  That he soul’s language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
  Within convenient distance stood,
 
He—though he knew not 5 which soul spake,        25
  Because both meant, both spake the same—
Might thence a new concoction take,
  And part far purer than he came.
 
This ecstacy doth 6 unperplex
  (We said) and tell us what we love;        30
We see by this, it was not sex;
  We see, we saw not, what did move:
 
But as all several souls contain
  Mixture of things they know not what,
Love these mix’d souls doth mix again,        35
  And makes both one, each this, and that.
 
A single violet transplant,
  The strength, the colour, and the size—
All which before was poor and scant—
  Redoubles still, and multiplies.        40
 
When love with one another so
  Interanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
  Defects of loneliness 7 controls.
 
We then, who are this new soul, know,        45
  Of what we are composed, and made,
For th’ atomies of which we grow
  Are souls, 8 whom no change can invade.
 
But, O alas! so long, so far,
  Our bodies why do we forbear?        50
They are ours, though not we; we are
  Th’ intelligences, they the spheres.
 
We owe them thanks, because they thus
  Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses’ force to us,        55
  Nor are dross to us, but allay.
 
On man heaven’s influence works not so,
  But that it first imprints the air;
For soul into the soul may flow,
  Though it to body first repair.        60
 
As our blood labours to beget
  Spirits, as like souls as it can;
Because such fingers need to knit
  That subtle knot, which makes us man;
 
So must pure lovers’ souls descend        65
  To affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
  Else a great prince in prison lies.
 
To our bodies turn we then, that so
  Weak men on love reveal’d may look;        70
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow,
  But yet the body is his book. 9
 
And if some lover, such as we,
  Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see        75
  Small change when we’re to bodies gone. 10
 
Note 1. l. 3. 1669, declining [back]
Note 2. l. 4. 1669, on one another’s breasts [back]
Note 3. l. 9. So 1635; 1633, to intergraft [back]
Note 4. l. 15. 1635, our state [back]
Note 5. l. 25. So 1635; 1633 knows not [back]
Note 6. l. 29. 1669, do [back]
Note 7. l. 44. 1669, loveliness [back]
Note 8. l. 48. 1650, soul [back]
Note 9. l. 72. 1669, the book [back]
Note 10. l. 76. 1635, grown [back]
 
 
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