I read this love poem a few days ago on The Writer’s Almanac run by Garrison Keillor and it reminded me of John Donne. It is witty and playful like Donne’s love poems.
By Ramon Montaigne
The Mississippi at its mouth
Joins the Gulf of Mexico,
The west wind mixes with the south,
High pressure with the low.
Nothing in nature stands apart,
All things rendezvous—
I’d like to mingle with you.
This is what I have in mind.
I just feel a sudden urge
The compound that is chlorophyll
Formed as the light increases
Makes every little flower thrill
The morning glory mingles
With the honeysuckle vine,
Come wrap your little tendrils around mine.
I’ve been lonely as a cloud,
Drifting miserable and proud,
Lonely as a limestone butte—
Handsome, noble, destitute,
But I need you, I confess
Donne, of course, is far more witty and the analogies he draws are clever and unexpected. Take The Flea, for example. Here the lover wants to consummate his love, but look at his ingenious argument to justify his plea. The flea has already sucked his blood and hers, he tells his love. “And in this flea our two bloods mingled be,” he says. “And this, alas! is more than we would do.” Here’s the complete poem, a clever, playful plea for lovemaking.
By John Donne
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.