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Donne, John [1572-1631]

NEGATIVE LOVE

I NEVER stoop’d so low, as they
Which on an eye, cheek, lip, can prey;
Seldom to them which soar no higher
Than virtue, or the mind to admire.
For sense and understanding may
Know what gives fuel to their fire;
My love, though silly, is more brave;
For may I miss, whene’er I crave,
If I know yet what I would have.

If that be simply perfectest,
Which can by no way be express’d
But negatives, my love is so.
To all, which all love, I say no.
If any who deciphers best,
What we know not—ourselves—can know,
Let him teach me that nothing. This
As yet my ease and comfort is,
Though I speed not, I cannot miss.

— The Poems of John Donne, Edited by Edmund Kerchever Chambers (1866–1954), with an Introduction by George Saintsbury (1845-1933) · bartleby.com

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John Adams, Harmonium [1980] for chorus and large orchestra

I. Negative Love
II. Because I could not stop for death
III. Wild Nights

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