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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Triple Fool

(Couple with Bird’s Nest, eighteenth-century
English woodcut)

“She saw no reason against their being happy. Louisa had fine naval fervor to begin with, and they would soon grow more alike. [Captain Benwick] would gain cheerfulness, and she would learn to be an enthusiast for Scott and Lord Byron; nay that was probably learnt already; of course they had fallen in love over poetry.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion


I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry;
But where’s that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny?
Then as th’earth’s inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water’s fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme’s vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when ’tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

~ John Donne (1572-1631), the finest of the English Metaphysical poets, lyric poets whose work displayed a subtlety of thought and fanciful imagery and often used one surprising metaphor to bring together two very different ideas

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