Be Justly Proud and Gladly Safe

file-8 (9)
Poinsettia in need of a drink.


“When people get married because they think it’s a long-time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment.  But marriage is a recognition of a spirtual identify.”

Joseph Campbell

The Blossom

by John Donne

LITTLE think’st thou, poor flower,
Whom I’ve watch’d six or seven days,
And seen thy birth, and seen what every hour
Gave to thy growth, thee to this height to raise,
And now dost laugh and triumph on this bough,
Little think’st thou,
That it will freeze anon, and that I shall
To-morrow find thee fallen, or not at all.

Little think’st thou, poor heart,
That labourest yet to nestle thee,
And think’st by hovering here to get a part
In a forbidden or forbidding tree,
And hopest her stiffness by long siege to bow,
Little think’st thou
That thou to-morrow, ere the sun doth wake,
Must with the sun and me a journey take.

But thou, which lovest to be
Subtle to plague thyself, wilt say,
Alas ! if you must go, what’s that to me?
Here lies my business, and here I will stay
You go to friends, whose love and means present
Various content
To your eyes, ears, and taste, and every part ;
If then your body go, what need your heart?

Well then, stay here ; but know,
When thou hast stay’d and done thy most,
A naked thinking heart, that makes no show,
Is to a woman but a kind of ghost.
How shall she know my heart ; or having none,
Know thee for one?
Practice may make her know some other part ;
But take my word, she doth not know a heart.

Meet me in London, then,
Twenty days hence, and thou shalt see
Me fresher and more fat, by being with men,
Than if I had stay’d still with her and thee.
For God’s sake, if you can, be you so too ;
I will give you
There to another friend, whom we shall find
As glad to have my body as my mind.

I am at that stage in my relationship with my Poinsettia every year from Christmas, where I inevitably go a little too long on watering it and it starts to wilt.  Poinsettia’s are like every other relationship, over water it and it gets damp feet and dies from a smothering mold.  Under water it and it will hit the critical wilting point, which by definition is the stage at which no amount of watering will bring it back from the brink of death, because cells have been damaged beyond repair, the essence of the plant is gone even if a little green remains.  Fortunately, I caught mine in time that it perked right up and looked happy by the end of the day, giving me a bright red smile knowing I was thinking about it.

However, I have learned over the years, that let it get to that early wilty point a couple of times and things will go down hill quick. The plant will come back vegetatively but the shine is off the bloom. Consistent, even though it be unintentional, lack of attention to watering, going just a wee bit too long of not being present with your poinsettia, will cause it to drop its top red leaves, scale back and try to hold on with buds at the bottom.

My father has poinsettias that are many years old, so careful is his watering and care for them.  He has an ivy plant that is over 60 years old and several others over 30 years old. My sister called and we chatted about her approach with poinsettias. She lives in Oakland, CA and said that she throws her out in the backyard by the steps early in the new year and let’s it go feral, free to try and make it on there own.  She said some don’t have the stamina and die and others make it to spring and she plants them in her garden, survival of the fittest with a minimalist approach to care and nurturing.  What’s your approach to house plants? Does it mirror your approach to your romantic relationships?

I found these two poems by John Donne recently and instantly knew how I wanted to share them.  Each is a remarkable poem, though the old English makes it a little more difficult to wade through.  A Jet Ring Sent shows that marriage and separation are no different now than 400 years ago, in partnerships wedded in love.  I read the ending, not as divorce but commitment, paraphrasing;  “Circle this finger’s top, with your thumb.” What a simple beautiful way to acknowledge your wedding with your lover and the contentment of seeing a physical reminder of those vows on each other’s fingers. I read the poem as an affirmation of being attentive to your most important relationship. “Be justly proud and gladly safe, thou that dost dwell with me.”  When both partners affirm that sentiment getting up from bed every morning and having a cup of tea together, you know you are in it for the long haul.

John Donne wrote some of the most beautiful religious sonnets of the past 500 years. A true man of God, who did not forsake his flesh, or his family, but lived well on this earthly plain as well.

A Jet Ring Sent

by John Donne

THOU art not so black as my heart,
Nor half so brittle as her heart, thou art;
What wouldst thou say? shall bout our properties be thee be spoke,
—Nothing more endless, nothing sooner broke.

Marriage rings are not of this stuff,
Oh, why should ought less precious, or less tough,
Figure our loves? except in thy name though has bid it say,
“–I’m cheap, and nought but fashion; fling me away.”

Yet stay with me, since thou art come,
Circle this finger’s top, which didst her thumb,
Be justly proud, and gladly safe, that thou dost dwell with me.
She that O! broke her faith, would soon break free.