The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday

The Extasie
By John Donne

Where, like a pillow on a bed,
  A Pregnant banke swel'd up, to rest
The violets reclining head,
  Sat we two, one anothers best.
Our hands were firmely cimented        
  With a fast balme, which thence did spring,
Our eye-beames twisted, and did thred
  Our eyes, upon one double string;
So to'entergraft our hands, as yet
  Was all the meanes to make us one,  
And pictures in our eyes to get
  Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equall Armies, Fate
  Suspends uncertaine victorie,
Our soules, (which to advance their state,  
  Were gone out,) hung 'twixt her, and mee.
And whil'st our soules negotiate there,
  Wee like sepulchrall statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
  And wee said nothing, all the day.  
If any, so by love refin'd,
  That he soules language understood,
And by good love were growen all minde,
  Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soule spake,  
  Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take,
  And part farre purer then he came.
This Extasie doth unperplex
  (We said) and tell us what we love,
Wee see by this, it was not sexe,
  Wee see, we saw not what did move:
But as all severall soules containe
  Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love, these mixt soules, doth mixe againe,
  And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
  The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poore, and scant,)
  Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love, with one another so
  Interinanimates two soules,
That abler soule, which thence doth flow,
  Defects of lonelinesse controules.
Wee then, who are this new soule, know,
  Of what we are compos'd, and made,
For, th'Atomies of which we grow,
  Are soules, whom no change can invade.
But O alas, so long, so farre
  Our bodies why doe wee forbeare?  
They are ours, though they are not wee, Wee are
  The intelligences, they the spheare.
We owe them thankes, because they thus,
  Did us, to us, at first convay,
Yeelded their forces, sense, to us,  
  Nor are drosse to us, but allay.
On man heavens influence workes not so,
  But that it first imprints the ayre,
Soe soule into the soule may flow,
  Though it to body first repaire.  
As our blood labours to beget
  Spirits, as like soules as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
  That subtile knot, which makes us man:
So must pure lovers soules descend  
  T'affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
  Else a great Prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turne wee then, that so
  Weake men on love reveal'd may looke;  
Loves mysteries in soules doe grow,
  But yet the body is his booke.
And if some lover, such as wee,
  Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still marke us, he shall see  
  Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.


Michael Dirda wrote a review for last Sunday's Washington Post Book Review of John Donne: The Reformed Soul by John Stubbs in which he cited this poem, saying that the new biography "suggests that we understand the mature John Donne as a figure of moderation at a time of increasing religious fanaticism." His youthful poems "can be cynical about casual sex -- 'I have lov'd, and got, and told' -- and even ecstatically pornographic: 'License my roving hands, and let them go,/ Before, behind, between, above, below.'" Yet "whenever poets write about Eros, you can be sure that Thanatos -- Death -- is also on their minds...because he was a fundamentally serious man, but also because he was an increasingly desperate one, the priesthood began to make more and more sense."

All my excitement of the past day has been dermatological. My father, who had a melanoma removed from his chest many years ago, had another mole test carcinogenic and had the surrounding tissue removed -- they'll tell him if the margins are clear next week -- and I decided that I've had enough of the spot where I had a mole removed (which tested only mildly abnormal, fortunately) itching and looking infected and driving me insane, so I went to the doctor, who concluded that a tiny filament of suture might still be caught beneath the skin but couldn't find it even after cutting it open again. All I can say is that this cream they gave me to put on it in lieu of Neosporin/Bacitracin had better work, because the irritation is making me irritable with everyone. And I have NO tolerance for fannish wank of any sort so am simply hiding from all fandom everywhere.

Trek news was fun today: interviews with George Takei and Alexander Siddig, both of whom are always interesting and unafraid to be controversial. Takei gave up some information about Mr. Nakamura on Heroes and talked about Nakamuras and Samurai in his own family, while I had to visit Al Jazeera's web site to look up the official information on the Siddig interview, which had been posted on YouTube and linked by his official web site, so now Bush's FBI is probably tracking all my online activity (Al Jazeera was not high on any list of web sites I ever wanted to visit because their anti-Israel bias is so flagrant -- this isn't just opposition to the occupation, it's about Israel's existence -- but the piece on Hollywood portrayals of Arabs also featured Tony Shalhoub and Omar Sharif and was quite interesting).

In the evening we finally watched the last hour of Spider-Man 2, figuring we should actually see it before everyone we know sees Spider-Man 3, though I suspect we won't be seeing that one for months and months either. And Smallville finally did an episode that kept me smiling throughout! Jimmy should hallucinate being Bogart every week! Because Kristin Kreuk's acting limitations may be patently obvious in a contemporary drama, but the stylized emotion is perfect for film noir, and Tom Welling is delightful in that genre as well, while people like Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance and particularly John Glover absolutely eat the scenes.

I loved the dialogue -- "I've got nothing on Kent but his tab," "Looks like the boss's old lady might be getting a little more from Kent than just the headlines" -- but I loved how much fun the cast seemed to be having even more. Jimmy is no Bogart (in fact, he's probably the weakest link this episode, much more so than Lana), but all the smoking effects and Lex carrying on with torch singer Lois and Lionel jerking everyone's strings behind the scenes...eeee! My favorite part was probably Jimmy giving the "you played me for a patsy" speech that the film noir hero usually gives to the heroine/ Clark, not Lana, though she's the one who ends up hearing it.

It's kind of refreshing, too, to see Clark as the cynic -- "There are no heroes in Metropolis" -- though of course that's Jimmy's fantasy, where he can't even guess at the nature of Clark's double life. I snickered at Jimmy's line to Chloe about Lana, "You don't want to think of her as a double crossing two timing backstabber" -- because evidently Jimmy does! I don't really understand why Lionel watched the video footage Lana swiped with Lois right there, considering he convinces Lois that Lana was double-crossing both Luthors...I don't think Lionel is stupid enough to have done that incidentally, he must have wanted Lois to know about the senator in league with Lex for a reason, probably so it gets back to Martha. Oh, I love having The Real Lionel back! I hope he stays for the whole run of the show! I didn't much like the sappy everyone-does-everything-to-protect-everyone-else ending, but major snaps up for the rest of the episode. Maybe they should try to be more like a comic book and less like a soap opera more often.

Also watched the season finale of Shark, which as usual had gaping plot holes and as usual I forgave it because I like James Woods and Jeri Ryan on that show, particularly together, particularly reminding me of Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges in Fatal Attraction only without Stark being a murderer. I find James Woods to be an asshole in interviews and in many movie roles, even ones where his character is supposed to be sympathetic, but as Stark, lines like "You push that shutter, you're going to need an enema to find that camera" work beautifully. (Also, "I want you to have wild sex with me, but I'm not holding my breath," as Stark says to Devlin. And, when one of his lawyers tells Stark he didn't have to cheat to put Callison away: "This isn't a math test!")

Sebastian and Jessica both want Callison put away very badly -- her because everyone seems to think she lost the election because her office failed to put him away, him because he keeps seeing the face of the victim he fed to Callison during the last trial (Stark's words) and wants redemption for her. His cheating is absurd, and I really have trouble believing the judge would only fine him for the things he knew about instead of moving to disbar him. I am amused to see that Larry King will whore himself out to a CBS lawyer show as well as an ABC lawyer show -- he had Denny Crane from ABC's Boston Legal on, or rather vice versa -- but it was clever to have him interviewing Wayne-as-O.J. explaining how he'd have committed the murders, if he'd committed the murders. I hope Devlin goes to work for Stark even though she really should know better because I want Ryan to stay on the show.

Here are some photos of azaleas and flowers in my own neighborhood.

Our neighborhood is fairly split between families with kids and single people or retired couples with lots of time for gardening, and it is often very easy to tell who lives in which houses.

It has been a great relief since the older couple next door, who spent hours and hours on their annuals, moved to a smaller place and a family moved in with little girls who trample their yard!

I love looking at the well-kept gardens, though.

This is probably the most colorful week of the year, when even the shaded azaleas are in bloom.


Obviously I did not watch the Republican massdebate (as my father would joke). Giuliani is welcome to hate abortion so long as he keeps saying it's ultimately a woman's choice, but I still wouldn't vote for him over any of the major Democrats and all the Reagan worship in the clips turns my stomach. Saw some clips of the Queen in Virginia but mostly all I could think was that that was the brightest pink hat I've ever seen her wearing. *g* Ah well, she's never going to be my mother-in-law anyway. One of my college roommates, who has been trying for years to have children, had twins last week and I just found out and am really happy for her. So I figured I would share the good news!

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