Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Poetry - John Donne

I'm still on holidays & doing a lot of pottering around. I've been out & about this last week (out to lunch four days in a row) so less time for reading. I've also just subscribed to Netflix & have started watching Grace & Frankie with Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda as well as the documentary series Making A Murderer. I was tempted to subscribe by the new series The Crown, about the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth II, which begins next month. There's a trailer here & it looks fascinating. So, while I'm deciding which anthology to read next, here's another favourite poem by John Donne, Lovers' Infiniteness.

If yet I have not all thy love,
Dear, I shall never have it all;
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can intreat one other tear to fall;
And all my treasure, which should purchase thee—
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters—I have spent.
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant;
If then thy gift of love were partial,
That some to me, some should to others fall,
         Dear, I shall never have thee all.

Or if then thou gavest me all,
All was but all, which thou hadst then;
But if in thy heart, since, there be or shall
New love created be, by other men,
Which have their stocks entire, and can in tears,
In sighs, in oaths, and letters, outbid me,
This new love may beget new fears,
For this love was not vow'd by thee.
And yet it was, thy gift being general;
The ground, thy heart, is mine; whatever shall
         Grow there, dear, I should have it all.

Yet I would not have all yet,
He that hath all can have no more;
And since my love doth every day admit
New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store;
Thou canst not every day give me thy heart,
If thou canst give it, then thou never gavest it;
Love's riddles are, that though thy heart depart,
It stays at home, and thou with losing savest it;
But we will have a way more liberal,
Than changing hearts, to join them; so we shall
         Be one, and one another's all.


  1. Thank you for posting this poem. I don't believe I have read it before. I love the way the shrewd poet/speaker uses whining, complaining, if/then propositions to achieve his aim. I interpret this as one of his "nightgown" poems (like "The Flea") but I suppose it could also be about religion. The language and the lack of obvious religions words make me think he's doing another "carpe diem" performance. Few poets have as many great ones as Donne. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! Yes, he's very good at carpe diem poems, he must have been a very persuasive man!

  2. Lyn,

    Thanks for reminding me that I haven't read anything by Donne in too long a time.

    1. You're welcome Fred. I hope it inspires you to read more Donne, his work always makes me smile.