the good-morrow

THE GOOD-MORROW
John Donne

I wonder, by my truth, what thou and I
Did till we loved? Were we not weaned till then,
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.


I love that line “snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ Den?”.  Legend has it that long ago seven young men were shut up in a cave by the Roman emperor Decius, on account of refusing to recant their Christian faith.  Having no way of escape, the seven men soon fell into a deep slumber which seems to have lasted for over two hundred years! During this time, emperor Decius was replaced with Theodosius and the persecution of the Christian faith had morphed into the entire empire embracing it. However, when the seven men finally awoke they imagined they had slept for only one day, and were laughed at when they tried to pay the nearby villagers with old “Decius” coins.

Poem by the ever-eloquent John Donne. Images from the film Tristan & Isolde.

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