Space on St Valentine’s Day*

Peter Leyland

During our discussion about space on the 13th of February, I thought about the metaphysical concept of the microcosm and the macrocosm which features in many of John Donne’s great poems. Here are two verses from two very different poems, The Good Morrow and A Valediction of Weeping, which could be appropriate today.

“And now good morrow to our waking soules
Which watch not one another out of feare;
For love, all love of other sights controules,
And makes on little room an every where.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let Maps to others, worlds on worlds have showne,
Let us possesse one world, each hath one and is one.”

Donne is clearly using the idea that lovers are everything to each other but in bringing in the geographical metaphors he makes it into a more universal statement.

                    “On a round ball
A workeman that hath copies by can lay
An Europe, Afrique, and an Asia,
And quickly make that which was nothing, All:
                     So doth each teare,
                     Which thee doth weare,
A globe, yea world by that impression grow,
Till thy teares mixt with mine doe overflow
This world, by waters sent forth from thee. my heaven dissolved

Similarly, after an argument it is as if the whole world has ended…

*Spellings and spacing from The Nonesuch Donne (1929) 

1 thought on “<strong>Space on St Valentine’s Day*</strong>”

  1. I have just begun “Super Infinite” The Transformations of John Donne, by Katherine Rundell. It was the winner of The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2022 and promises to be an absorbing read.

    NB The third line of The Good Morrow in my last post should read:
    ‘And makes one little room an everywhere,’

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