The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Valentine's Day and Oxon Hill Farm

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.


We picked up younger son from my mother after Hebrew school and went to Oxon Hill Farm Park, which my mother tells me I visited as a child, but I have no memory of it. The national park often has wagon rides and living history programs, plus Underground Railroad exhibits, but it was quiet today and except for my friend Annmarie who came to meet us, there were only a handful of other people the entire time we were there. The farm has cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, horses, a donkey, geese, plus wild turkeys and ducks who come for the free food, so younger son was quite pleased, plus he got to take photos of them all (the geese and goats were particularly aggressive in trying to get us to feed them, which of course we couldn't do, but that didn't stop the geese from making a racket). We walked around to look at the Alexandria skyline across the Potomac River, then came home for peanut noodles.


We spent the evening watching the Grammys, which I enjoyed -- absolutely loved the opening Aretha Franklin tribute with lots of women I love saluting her, enjoyed Mick, enjoyed the Dolly Parton tribute, enjoyed Katy, got a kick out of seeing Barbra so nervous that she had to clip her long notes, and really enjoyed the Cee-Lo Muppet performance (I couldn't really have cared who won most of the awards -- I'm sick of Lady Antebellum's bland Alan Parsons ripoff but better them than Eminem). But of course the awards I really cared about from Sunday night were the BAFTAs, and except for poor Tom Hooper (who won the Director's Guild award, which means he's still the Oscar favorite), I couldn't have been happier with the results; Helena Bonham Carter cracked me up saying she was used to losing and surprised to win!

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