The Ecstasy

John Donne 1572 (London) – 1631 (London)

Where, like a pillow on a bed
    A pregnant bank swell'd up to rest
The violet's reclining head,
    Sat we two, one another's best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
    With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
    Our eyes upon one double string;
So to'intergraft our hands, as yet
    Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
    Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equal armies fate
    Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
    Were gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
    We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
    And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin'd
    That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
    Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
    Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
    And part far purer than he came.
 This ecstasy doth unperplex,
    We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
    We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
    Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again
    And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
    The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
    Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
    Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
    Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
    Of what we are compos'd and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
    Are souls. whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
    Our bodies why do we forbear?
They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are
    The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
    Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
    Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven's influence works not so,
    But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
    Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
    Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
    That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers' souls descend
    T' affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
    Else a great prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turn we then, that so
    Weak men on love reveal'd may look;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
    But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
    Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
    Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 17, 2023

2:31 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,710
Words 488
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 76

John Donne

John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. more…

All John Donne poems | John Donne Books

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