Poetry Friday: The Bait

I love a good love poem. I wish I could express what my criteria for that is.

So, here, abbreviated, "The Bait" by John Donne.

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.

For thee, thou need’st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait:
That fish, that is not catch’d thereby,
Alas, is wiser far than I.

Go here for the full poem.

The first stanza reminds me of Catullus’s Poem 5:
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus
Rumoresque senum severiorum
Omnes unius aestimemus assis

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
And let us value the gossip of all
The too-severe old men at only a single coin.  

(That’s my loose translation.  Adapted for modern readers, because they aren’t familiar with ancient currency, generally.)

Poetry Friday: Poetry Theatre

It’s a Theatrey weekend for me. Tonight I’m going to see The Little Prince, and then tomorrow it’s Damn Yankees. I thought in honor of the festivities I’d post some theatre-related poetry. I googled “theatre poetry,” and it gave me Poetry Theatre:

Our mission is to continue the oral tradition utilizing modern technology. Poetry Theatre presents actors performing their favorite poems, a glossary of terms and a biography of the poet. Its website gives poetry to everyone to inspire, to enjoy and to learn. 

I don’t have time to explore the site now, but it’s exciting, isn’t it?  And Tandy Cronyn is the artistic director.  I had the privilege of seeing her star in Wit.  She was phenomenal.  (And brought Hume Cronyn around the theatre; the boyf got to meet him but had no sense of the magnitude of the event.)

From their selections, I chose one by one of my favorite poets, John Donne.  (I’m actually in the process of writing a John Donne cento as a gift for aforementioned boyfriend.)

GO and catch a falling star
by John Donne

GO and catch a falling star,
   Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
   Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
   Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
            And find
            What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be’st born to strange sights,
   Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
   Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
            And swear,
            No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find’st one, let me know,
   Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
   Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
            Yet she
            Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Poetry Friday

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildlyaway, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    “Now his breath goes,” and some say,”No.”                     

So let us melt, and make nonoise,                                       5
    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;                              10
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers’ love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, ’cause it dothremove                                     15
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands tomiss.                           20

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are twoso                                          25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th’ other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far dothroam,                                30
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 circlejust,                                    35
    And makes me end where I begun.