Air and Angels

Original Text: 
John Donne, Poems, by J. D. With elegies on the authors death (M. F. for J. Marriot, 1633). MICF no. 556 ROBA. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2245 A2 1633A. STC 7045.
1Twice or thrice had I lov'd thee,
2Before I knew thy face or name;
3So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
4Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be;
5      Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
6Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
7      But since my soul, whose child love is,
8Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
9      More subtle than the parent is
10Love must not be, but take a body too;
11      And therefore what thou wert, and who,
12           I bid Love ask, and now
14And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.
15Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
16And so more steadily to have gone,
17With wares which would sink admiration,
18I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught;
19      Ev'ry thy hair for love to work upon
20Is much too much, some fitter must be sought;
21      For, nor in nothing, nor in things
22Extreme, and scatt'ring bright, can love inhere;
25      So thy love may be my love's sphere;
26           Just such disparity
27As is 'twixt air and angels' purity,
28'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.


13] assume: take on. Back to Line
23] In scholastic thought angels are incorporeal, but "assume" a body of air, the least corporeal of the elements, when they appear to men. Back to Line
24] it: angel. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.177.