Air and Angels
By John Donne
Twice or thrice had I lov'd thee,
I had already fallen in love with you two or three times,
Before I knew thy face or name;
Even before I had met you or learned your name.
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be;
Angels come to be worshipped by coming to us in a voice or shapeless flame in this way.
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
Even when I met you, I still saw something glorious I couldn't identify.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
But because my soul, whose child is love,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
Makes use of a body, and isn't capable of doing anything else,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;
And Love can't be more subtle than its parent (the soul), it takes 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.
Therefore, I asked love to tell me what you were and who you were, and I believe Love took your very own body and made use of your lips, your eyes, and your brows.
Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
I thought (by doing this) I could weigh Love down,
And so more steadily to have gone,
With wares which would sink admiration,
And, in this way, would have been able to have more of something to possess than just admiration,
I saw I had love's pinnace overfraught;
I saw that I had overburdened Love's vessel,
Ev'ry thy hair for love to work upon
Is much too much, some fitter must be sought;
Love can't even manage working with your hair all at once,
For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scatt'ring bright, can love inhere;
For, Love can't reside in nothingness, nor in extremities, nor in things that are brightly scattered.
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 as an angel's face and wings, made out of air, are not as pure as the angel itself, although they are pure, your Love can embody my Love.
Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love, and men's, will ever be.
Just like there are differences between air and the purity of angels,
there will also be the same between women's purity and men's purity.