The recent post about John Donne's penchant for puns led me to fish out my copy of Donne's Holy Sonnets in order to transcribe Sonnet 17--the stunningly sad sonnet which was written upon Donne's wife (Anne More)'s death.
Notice both the punning of "more love" (which links the phrase to the concept of Anne More's own now-missing love) and the mention of my very fave 17th Century disease: dropsy.* * an incurable thirst; probably a symptom of diabetes.
Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt
To nature, and to her and my good is dead,
And her soul early into heaven ravished
Wholly on heavenly things my mind is set.
Here the admiring her my mind did whet
To seek thee, God; so streams do show the head;
But though I have found thee, and thou my thirst hast fed,
A holy thirsty dropsy melts me yet.
But why should I beg more love, when as thou
Dost woo my soul for hers off'ring all thine:
And dost not only fear lest I allow
My love to saints and angels, things divine,
But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt
Lest the world, flesh, yea Devil put thee out.
Dr. Robert N. Watson of UCLA has pointed out the counter-Trinity Donne raises at the end of this sonnet: world, flesh, and Devil. But I am most in love (I resist the urge to say more in love) with the lines of this poem whose meanings wiggle like a fish (i.e., whose soul is wanted for whose in line 9?) and with how Donne slows down and speeds up the metric of the poem with stream-like eddies of sound (the th's of line 7 tarrying into the quick shoot of line 8). Read it aloud. Some critics tackle poor John for these raggedy edges of sound. But I am in love with the echoey places ("a holy thirsty dropsy" indeed!).