Poetry: The Book of my Enemy — Dream Me Some Happiness | clivejames.com
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Dream Me Some Happiness

John Donne, uneasiest of apostates,
Renouncing Rome that he might get ahead
In life, or anyway not wind up dead,
Minus his guts or pressed beneath great weights,

Ascribed his bad faith to his latest flame
As if the fact she could be bent to do
His bidding proved that she would not stay true:
Each kiss a Judas kiss, a double game.

Compared with him, the mental muscle-man,
Successors who declared his numbers rough
Revealed by theirs they found the pace too tough:
The knotty strength that made him hard to scan

Left him renowned for his conceits alone,
Figments unfading as the forms of death
Prescribed for Catholics by Elizabeth —
Tangles of gristle, relics of hair and bone.

Brought back to favour in an anxious time
Attuned to his tormented intellect,
By now he charms us, save in one respect:
Framing his women still looks like a crime.

We foist our fault on her we claim to love
A different way. Pleased to the point of tears,
She tells us that the real world disappears.
Not quite the Donne thing, when push comes to shove:

He wrote betrayal into her delight.
We have a better reason to deceive
Ourselves as we help her help us believe
Life isn’t like that: at least, not tonight.