Twin compasses

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(To: John Donne - 1572 - 1631)

Airy valedictions cannot span this bridge in time
What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is very definitely mine.
We both can hear the quiet roar of our own new found land
As time drifts to a stop and as we focus near and far
We no longer stand amazed at the hollow rancour of public life
And have no more time for the mere indulgences of strife.
We look too much upon these empty places, the sands
That have run out, sans mistress, husband, lover, wife.
Faces that bloomed at noontide fade like a plangent song
Sung as we leave the stage with ne’er a whisper of regret
To walk into eternity with all the grace the less deceived
Can muster, as leaves turn golden at this late turning of the year.
And now those twin compass points of greed and fear draw near
Then, quite suddenly disappear: a point upon a circle, a tear upon a face.

◄ Final solution

Throwing stones at the stars ►


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John Marks

Thu 8th Jun 2023 12:26

Thank you Stephen A, Stephen G and you Bethany. Donne is my favourite poet. I never tire of reading his poetry. I am entranced, and somewhat terrified, by 'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning' which inspired my relatively insipid 'Twin Compasses'. Donne has it thus:

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
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;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

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

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
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 circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

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Bethany Sallis

Wed 7th Jun 2023 20:56

Fabulous poetry! My favourite Donne poem-

Death be not proud

especially when read
by the late treacle tone voiced Mr Richard Burton

Thank you John

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