Friday, May 15, 2009

John Donne

I had my last final today at 8:00 AM. I was exhausted until three hours ago, when I napped, woken up thirty minutes ago by thunder and rain. When you open your eyes to a darkened blue room, your mind groggy, and the rain is pounding away incessantly, it feels like the world is drowning. I am now refreshed, ready to listen to music for the next 12 hours, take my heart out, lay it on my sleeve, and write.

Good news! There is an ant next to my keyboard. My sister cooked yellow cake yesterday, so there are plenty of crumbs. Have at it, ant!

I will be going to my parents’ home tomorrow and staying there for three weeks until summer school starts. Two nutritional science classes this summer. My father is also interested in this stuff, so I hope I get some interesting tidbits to tell him. Next school year will mark my sixth year on my journey to get my undergraduate English/Science degrees. As of now, it will be my last year. I will walk next May. Most of the time, I feel like a loser for being in college for so long. And what have I learned all these years? Sometimes, though, I know I am in the right place. This is the only place where I can explore all my options.

How about some English Renaissance poetry from my final this morning? These dead dudes—Shakespeare, Donne, Milton—they were all interested in only two things: love and death. If they weren’t moaning about unrequited love, they were tearing their hair out about the fact that we all return to dust. Most of them weren’t kind to women. For example, dear, dear John Donne had this to say:

Hope not for the mind in women; at their best
Sweetness and wit, they’re but mummy, possessed.

~Love’s Alchemy

My reply: Well, excuse us if we seem a tad bit embalmed while in your delightful company. Perhaps it’s because of your very witty conversation that makes us want to have our brains sucked out of our nose holes and encased safely in a jar. The Good Lord preserve us from the likes of your wit.

Donne on women’s fidelity:

Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.


My reply: Huh, so all women are whores, are they? Well, God bless them for enjoying themselves with two, or three lovers at a time. Can’t stand a little orgy, can we? I like nothing better than a woman with a ravenous appetite.

Donne using peer pressure to get a woman naked in bed:

To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What need’st thou have more covering than a man?

~Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed

My reply: Why? Why? Well, you’re kind of desperate, aren’t you, if you’re willing to bare that hideously puny thing!

About Donne: So, he ran away with his true love, married her, and during the sixteen years of their marriage, proceeded to impregnate her twelve times! Twelve. As my sister Christine would say—ouch. Did she ever leave her bed? And guess how she died. In childbirth. Surprised, anyone? Couldn’t put the darn thing away, could we? What’s interesting is that after her death, Donne, for all his vast sexual appetites, swore off women and turned to God. He then proceeded to write his Holy Sonnets. Let’s take a look at one:

Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

~Holy Sonnet #10

For those of you confused, me is Donne and you is God. Huh. Seems like he wants to be raped by God. Or, if not that, to have very, very good sex with God. Donne seems to be a bit of a sado-masochist, especially since earlier in the poem, he wants God to o’erthrow me, and bend / Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.

My reply: So that’s why you turned to God! Well, Donne, old boy, if you got into Heaven, then by all means try to seduce God. God knows, God needs a little relaxation away from all his ruling and everything. But I warn you, if your dear wife got into Heaven too, she won’t take kindly to your infidelity! What’s that? Til death do you part? Okay, okay, fine, but don’t come complaining to me when she hurls your ass down to Hell.

I’m just poking good fun at Donne. If my humor’s a little offensive, I blame South Park. Donne’s a good poet. Gave us some of the best lines about love:

Twice or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name

~Air and Angels

I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

~The Good Morrow

This one’s for us queers; the [Blah, blah, blah] are skipped lines; however, let’s pretend that the [Blah, blah, blah] are the idiot Prop 8 people and let’s imagine that Donne is speaking for us:

For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
[Blah, blah, blah]
Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?
[Blah, blah, blah]
Call us what you will, we are made such by love.
[Blah, blah, blah]
We can die by it, if not live by love.
[Blah, blah, blah]
And thus invoke us: You whom reverend love
Made one another’s hermitage
[place of refuge];
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;
Who did the whole world’s soul contract, and drove
Into the glasses [lenses] of your eyes.

~The Canonization

The last five lines are confusing, so here’s my take on it: You who revere the power of love, you made refuges for each other and for your love. If you can love with deep passion, if you can understand what love is, how can you not understand us? How can our love enrage you, when we too love with as deep passion and reverence as you do? Look into our eyes and you will see the whole world’s soul reflected back at you. Look into our eyes and you will see the grief and violence you have created reflected back at you.

[Sigh] Thinking about Prop 8 has made me blue.

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