Saturday, February 02, 2008

The (Poetry) Feast of St. Brigid

Deborah Oak is again hosting a "virtual poetry reading" in honor of St. Brigid. Reya kindly pointed me to this year's bohemian coffee shop location. It must be the season, for I am once again reading John Donne. The strange mix of sacred and profane, beautiful and ghastly always sucks me right in. "Air and Angels" is from Donne's Songs and Sonnets.

by John Donne

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,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I 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;
    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 lip, eye, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
    And so more steadily to have gone,
    With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love's pinnacle overfraught;
    Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much ; some fitter must be sought;
    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;
        Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air's and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.


sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

Thank you for posting that. I have not read "Air and Angels" for some years and it was a favorite of mine when I was younger.

You've made an exceptional choice. Thank yoU!

Table Talk said...

The glory of this type of celebration is that it reminds you of the wealth of incredibly beautiful poetry that there is out there. I love Donne. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Reya Mellicker said...

Gorgeous! A dark cloud with a silver lining. He is one of my very favorites, thank you!!

Another espresso for the woman in the black turtleneck and beret, please!

nina said...


The Ginger Darlings said...

I do so love the links and findings that come sometimes through the web. We love your profile picture and your poem, and we have one on our blog, and also one on

jackie and the gingercats

deborah oak said...

thank you. This web of poetry is so strong and I'm still following all the strands. Thank you. This poem is new to me and one I will return to. thank you

Larry said...

I've neglected Donne -- thanks for calling this poem to my attention, Rebecca!

Build Your Own Home said...

Gorgeous! A dark cloud with a silver lining. He is one of my very favorites, thank you!!