Air and Angels

By John Donne

Twice or thrice had I loved thee,
  Before I knew thy face or name;
  So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame,
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp’d be.
  Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing did I see.
  But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
  More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;
  And therefore what thou wert, and who,
    I bid love ask, and now
That it assume thy body, I allow,
And fix itself in thy lips, eyes, and brow.

Whilst thus to ballast love I thought,
  And so more steadily to have gone,
  With wares which would sink admiration,
I saw I had love’s pinnace overfraught;
  Thy every hair for love to work upon
Is much too much; some fitter must be sought;
  For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme, and scattering bright, can love inhere;
  Then as an angel face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
  So thy love may be my love’s sphere;
    Just such disparity
As is ’twixt air’s and angels’ purity,
’Twixt women’s love, and men’s, will ever be.


This poem is in the public domain.