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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Parkin

NaPoWriMo – wonderful John Donne valedictions

On my way to do a 10k run with obstacles this morning – and being energised by metaphysical poetry! Though no doubt the Power of Poetry can only go so far where a near-frozen lake swim is involved…

Anyway, I have not yet written my day 6 valediction, but in researching it just read some John Donne goodbye-poems. He is so robust and cosmic in his writing, thought I would share them of a Sunday morning:

‘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, ‘The breath goes now,’ 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 Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refin’d, That ourselves know not what it is, Inter-assured 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 airy 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 the’ 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.

John Donne

And also:

‘A Valediction Of Weeping’

Let me pour forth My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here, For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear, And by this mintage they are something worth, For thus they be Pregnant of thee; Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more, When a tear falls, that thou falls which it bore, So thou and I are nothing then, when on a diverse shore.

On a round ball A workman that hath copies by, can lay An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, And quickly make that, which was nothing, all; So doth each tear Which thee doth wear, A globe, yea world, by that impression grow, Till thy tears mix’d with mine do overflow This world; by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolved so.

O more than moon, Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere, Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear To teach the sea what it may do too soon; Let not the wind Example find, To do me more harm than it purposeth; Since thou and I sigh one another’s breath, Whoe’er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other’s death.

John Donne

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