Often and Silently
I am from him, I am dead till I be with him."
Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) Religio Medici
There are wonders in true affection, it is a body of Aenigmaes, mysteries
and riddles, wherein two so become one, as they both
become two; I love my friend before my selfe, and yet me thinkes I do not love
him enough; some few months hence my multiplyed affection will make me beleeve I
have not loved him at all, when I am from him, I am dead till I bee with him,
when I am with him, I am not satisfied, but would still be nearer him: united
soules are not satisfied with embraces, but desire to be truely each other,
which being impossible, their desires are infinite, and must proceed without a
possibility of satisfaction.
Browne was an English physician and
experimentalist who also believed in witchcraft. He wrote Religio Medici
("The Religion of a Physician") in 1635 and it instantly created a great stir
in the English public.
you that I could private be!"
Michael Drayton (1563-1631) Idea XI
You not alone, when you are still alone,
O God, from you that I could private be.
Since you one were, I never since was one;
Since you in me, my self since out of me,
Transported from my self into your being;
Though either distant, present yet to either,
Senseless with too much joy, each other seeing,
And only absent when we are together.
Give me my self and take your self again,
Devise some means but how I may forsake you;
So much is mine that doth with you remain,
That, taking what is mine, with me I take you;
You do bewitch me; O, that I could fly
From my self you, or from your own self I.
Drayton was one of the first poets to be interred in Westminster Abbey. He revised
Idea, a series of over sixty sonnets praising a woman referred to as Idea,
several times, and there is debate and speculation to this day as to her real
gracious silence, hail!"
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Coriolanus Act 2, Scene 1
Coriolanus greets his wife in this manner.
Shakespeare is perhaps the greatest English playwright and poet of all time. Coriolanus,
one of his later works, movingly describes the conflict between political and personal issues in the
career of a Roman general.
live with me and be my love"
John Donne (1572-1631) Songs and Sonnets "The Bait"
Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There will the river whispering run
Warmed by thy eyes, more than the sun.
And there the enamored fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.
When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.
If thou, to be so seen, be'st loath,
By sun, or moon, thou darkenest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.
Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs, with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net:
Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,
Or curious traitors, sleavesilk flies
Bewitch poor fishes' wandering eyes.
For thee, thou needst no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait;
That fish, that is not catched thereby,
Alas, is far wiser than I.
is now recognized to be the foremost of the English metaphysical poets,
although most of his work remained unpublished during his lifetime. While his
later poems were highly religious, his earlier verse, of which "The Bait"
is one, was mainly erotic and satiric, and it is perhaps for these that
he is best known today. The spelling in the poem here has
you whom I often and silently come where you are..."
from Walt Whitman (1819-1892) Leaves of Grass
O you whom I often and silently come where you are that I may
be with you,
As I walk by your side or sit near, or remain in the same room
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is
playing within me.
Whitman first published Leaves of Grass in 1855, it was a slim volume
of twelve poems. He revised and enlarged the collection throughout his life,
and by the time of the last edition produced under his supervision in 1892,
the book included over three hundred works. Whitman's work enjoyed little
public success during most of his lifetime, but some critics did recognize
the emergence of a bold new voice in poetry. However, many criticized him
for his innovations in verse form and his exaltation of the body
and sexual, specifically homosexual, love.
pass the careless people
That call their souls their own..."
A.E. Housman (1859-1936) A Shropshire Lad XIV
There pass the careless people
That call their souls their own;
Here by the road I loiter,
How idle and alone.
Ah, past the plunge of plummet,
In seas I cannot sound,
My heart and soul and senses,
World without end, are drowned.
His folly has not fellow
Beneath the blue of day
That gives to man or woman
His heart and soul away.
There flowers no balm to sain him
From east of earth to west
That's lost for everlasting
The heart out of his breast.
Here by the labouring highway
With empty hands I stroll:
Sea-deep, till doomsday morning,
Lie lost my heart and soul.
was an outstanding Latin scholar and a professor at Cambridge university.
He published few original poetic works, but A Shropshire Lad,
written almost entirely in 1895, in a single creative outburst, was
instantly popular for its directness, its elegant simplicity, and its depth