Verse > John Donne > The Poems of John Donne
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John Donne (1572–1631).  The Poems of John Donne.  1896.
 
Songs and Sonnets
Air and Angels
 
TWICE or thrice had I loved thee,
  Before I knew thy face or name;
  So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame,
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp’d be.
  Still when, to where thou wert, I came,        5
Some lovely glorious nothing did I 1 see.
  But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
  More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;        10
  And therefore what thou wert, and who,
    I bid love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lips, eyes, 2 and brow.
 
Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,        15
  And so more steadily to have gone,
  With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love’s pinnace overfraught;
  Thy every 3 hair for love to work upon
Is much too much; some fitter must be sought;        20
  For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere;
  Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
  So thy love may be my love’s sphere;        25
    Just such disparity
As is ’twixt air’s 4 and angels’ purity,
’Twixt women’s love, and men’s, will ever be.
 
Note 1. l. 6. So 1669; 1633, I did [back]
Note 2. l. 14. So 1669; 1633, lip, eye [back]
Note 3. l. 19. So 1669; 1633, Every thy [back]
Note 4. l. 27. So 1669; 1633, air [back]
 
 
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