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"The Compass" by John Donne
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: November 13, 2004 05:39AM

Anyone seen a good copy of "The Compass" by John Donne on the web, I've been without luck on my searches?


Re: "The Compass" by John Donne
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: November 13, 2004 11:24AM

There is a compass in 'Mourning' - not that one?


Re: "The Compass" by John Donne
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: November 13, 2004 02:16PM

Thanks Hugh,

It would appear an overworked innovative Freshman English Instructor, John Clarke, who learned his literature first in the trenches of Sicily, taught his class in 1963, the latter part of "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" as an independent poem. To wit,

The Compass, by John Donne

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refin'd,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begun.

That teacher taught me the love of the word "sublunary" and respect for a man who taught himself literature text by text. Unfortunately, evidently, the text he used hacked the poem up, truncated it, giving us an undiscovered poem by John Donne. I think his intent was to teach the extended metaphor. Instead he taught the love of literature.

Thanks again for focusing my eye, since I've Mourning more than once since, and never made the connection. duh.

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