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“Each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in times of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace”

(John Donne)


John Donne was a master of the 'metaphysical' school of poetry, which included philosophical reflections on love such as this one. He wrote long ago in the days before standardised spelling even existed - when words could be spelled however you wished, to fit your own rhymes - so I prefer to read versions of his poetry with his original spelling, unlike the poem below, which has been corrected to modern spelling standards. To give an example, he might spell ecstasy as extasie. . . to me the first spelling (correct by modern standards) appears too domesticated, too tame and cultivated; whereas the latter appears more direct and emotional in its spelling, with a straight-cut 'x' and an open-ended 'ie'. So I enjoy this richness of poetic language where words can be perceived in new ways when given new spellings! When I locate a version of the poem below which has not been adulterated by modern spelling practices, I'll post it here. . . Simon Rees, March 2007


Loves Growth

John Donne

 

I scarce believe my love to be so pure
                As I had thought it was,
                Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make it more.

But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
    With more, not only be no quintessence,
    But mix'd of all stuffs, vexing soul, or sense,
And of the sun his active vigour borrow,
Love’s not so pure, and abstract as they use
To say, which have no mistress but their Muse;
But as all else, being elemented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.

And yet no greater, but more eminent,
                Love by the spring is grown;
                As in the firmament
Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
From love's awakened root do bud out now.

If, as in water stirr'd more circles be
    Produced by one, love such additions take,
    Those like so many spheres but one heaven make,
For they are all concentric unto thee;
And though each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in times of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
No winter shall abate this spring’s increase.

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