Friday, November 13, 2009

Soup's Still Hot!

I could blame Wounded Bird, and give this immediate relevance, but I should rather confess the limitations of my education, and admit I just found this poem today, though its application seemed immediately obvious.

Show me dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.
What! is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? or which, robb'd and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleeps she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we to seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild Dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she'is embrac'd and open to most men.

--John Donne

There's more than one interpretation of that closing couplet, and Donne certainly loved paradox and contradiction. But I can't read it at least as a reference to that Protestant shibboleth, the "Whore of Babylon," which puts quite a twist on Dr. Donne's sentiment that the church must be a place of true hospitality, open to all*

*Yes, it is my hobbyhorse. And hooray for Dr. Donne!

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