Distancing social or otherwise does make one appreciate the attraction and power of interpersonal closeness. And it does make one understand the necessity for distancing as well. What makes one room “an everywhere”? John Donne clearly spent some time considering that back so many years ago when he wrote this poetic opus.
Consider these words now in the middle of isolation. Consider them in the middle of taking care of each other distantly. Taking care of them by not being near them.
Yes we miss you. Yes we need you. But more than ever we need not to be physically near you! I could be a danger to you. You could be a danger to me! but why would I ever think of you as a danger???
That my dear is the sad reality of a pandemic…..
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears.
But for now without our being physically in each other’s presence.
So today and for the foreseeable future our challenge is to make this “One Little Room” our everywhere!
By John Donne
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
Source: The Norton Anthology of Poetry Third Edition (1983)