Some that have deeper digged love’s mine than I,
Say where his centric happiness doth lie;
I have loved, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery.
Oh, ’tis imposture all!
And as no chemic yet th’ elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot
If by the way to him befall
Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,
So lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer’s night.
Our ease, our thrift, our honor, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble’s shadow pay?
Ends love in this, that my man
Can be as happy as I can, if he can
Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom’s play?
That loving wretch that swears
‘Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds,
Which he in her angelic finds,
Would swear as justly that he hears,
In that day’s rude hoarse minstrelsy, the spheres.
Hope not for mind in women: at their best
Sweetness and wit, they are but mummy possessed.
I studied Donne in college and confess that although I wrote and presented a paper on his work at a conference, I don’t think I ever fully understood the metaphysical poet.
Today as I read and pondered the poem, I interpreted it to mean: (FYI – if you are a student who ‘googled’ an analysis of John Donne’s Love’s Alchemy and got this post, please hit the back button now because I don’t want to be the reason you fail) there is no element in nature, no chemicals or materials that combine and create love. Love is not born when stars are aligned a certain way and two people drink from a magical well at precisely the same time. There are no love spells or potions. Love is from God and cannot be explained in forms of science.