"Have we two wept, and so / Drown'd the whole world, us two;" is from "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day."  Explain these lines with reference to the...

"Have we two wept, and so / Drown'd the whole world, us two;" is from "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day." 

Explain these lines with reference to the context. 

http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/tchg/640/papers/prot/Siferd.Nocturnal.html

These lines are from Song and Sonnets by John Donne. 

Expert Answers
amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day," the speaker is mourning the loss of his lover and giving advice to two other lovers. It is St. Lucy's day, December 13th, the winter solstice on the Julian calendar. This makes it the symbolic end of the year. The solstice is the shortest day and this represents the ephemeral feeling of life and love. Note the remainder of the line, "life is shrunk," (7). However, these bleak events/descriptions "seem to laugh" and this indicates that the speaker feels his problems are much greater. 

In the second stanza, the speaker tells two lovers how Love eventually ruined him into nothingness. In the third stanza, he instructs the two lovers to get all they can out of their love, again warning them that he had love and now is reduced to nothing. 

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have; 
 
For the speaker, his grief is overpowering and can reduce him to something less than an "ordinary nothing." Likewise, when he had love (when his lover was alive and with him), the potency of their love was supernatural. Thus, their (he and his lover) tears could flood the entire world; such was the profound depth of their love and emotions. The presence of this love is as wonderful as the absence of that love is devastating. 

 

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