Stanza 1 : Virtuous men silently pass away and whisper to their souls to go. But some of their sad friends say that life-breath goes now, while some others do not agree.

Stanza 2 : The poet, therefore, wises to melt with his beloved without making any noise. No flood of tears or no tempest of sighs should move them. It is nothing but the corruption of their joy to tell lay, vulgar people of their love.

Stanza 3 : The movement of the earth briugs (to the lovers) harms and fears, Men might reckon what that did and meant, but the equinoxe or movement of the spheres, though far greater, is innocent.

@Stanza 4 : Dull, sublunary, love of the lovers whose soul is sense cannot admit absence because this removes the elements which constitute their love.

Stanza 5 : But the poet and his ladylove, by their love, are so much refined that they do not know what this (love) is. They are inter-assured of their mind and careless of missing their (faculties of) eyes, lips andhands.

Stanza 6 : Their true souls, therefore, are one. They endure not any breach, though the poet must go. This (separation) is rather an expansion like a beaten gold, spread to an airy thinness.

Stanza 7 : If their souls be two, these are just like the two stiffen needles of the compass. The lady-love’s soul has the fixed foot and makes no show to move, but it does, if the other (the poet’s) soul moves.

Stanza 8 : Though it (the lady’s soul) sits in the centre, when the other (the poet’s) soul roams far, it leans and harkens after it and grows erect as that (the poet’s soul) comes home.

Stanza 9 : Thou (the lady love) will be such to the poet, who must like the other foot incline and obliquely run. Her firmness makes his circle just and makes him to end where he began.




The poem is supposed to have been addressed to his wife Ann. In his biographical work-Life of John Donne-Izacer Watton holds the view that the poem was given to his wife (Ann) before his departure to travel France, Germany and Belgium, in the company of Sir Robert Drury in 1611. It was included in his volume of poetry Songs und Sonnets.

Analytical Summary I

As good men pass away so quietly and peacefully that even their friends remain uncertain of the moment of their death. While some of them admit this, others deny. Similarly the poet and his wife (Ann) should part without any noise, without any flood of tears or tempest of sighs, for it would be profance to them to proclaim loudly their love.

(Stanzas 1-2) II

The earthquake causes harms and fears to the men who consider the impact and significance of the same, but the turbulation in the spheres, though much greater in force, is neither damaging nor fearful to them.

(Stanzas 3) III

The dull, vulgar lovers, whose love is sensual, cannot bear any absence or parting, for this takes away from them, the very elements which seem to them the basis of their love. But so far as the poet and his wife are concerned, their love is so pure that they do not know what this is. Their minds are so mutually ensured that they least bother about their physical separations.

(Stanzas 4-5) IV

Their souls, no doubt two, are one actually. As such, when the poet departs, there is no breach or separation between their souls. On the other hand, they expand like gold, beaten to airy thinness. In fact, they are two just as the two needles of a compass. The wife’s soul is firmly fixed, and does not move, unless his soul does in the manner of the needles of a compass.

(Stanzus 6-7) V

Though this (i.e., his wife) remains fixed in the centre, when the other (the poet himself) moves, she leans and yearns for him. She returns to her natural position, as he returns to her.

This is how she will be to him, like the steady needle of the compass. Her very steadfastness ensures that his circle is true and his end will be what is the very point of his beginning. (Stanzas 8-9)




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