An online space for queer, questioning, lesbian, bi, trans and everything else in between women at Yale

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

John Donne: He Had It Wrong

Happy Tuesday everyone!

As I was contemplating what to write about tonight, my brain went on an interesting tangent. I thought of Sappho, our blog's namesake, her writings, and the numerous writings about her (say hello to the English major), and I recalled a poem I had read freshman year entitled Sappho to Philaenis” by John Donne.
Sappho! (or possibly just some ancient Greek chick)

This poem stayed with me for numerous reasons, one of which being the fact that Donne seemed to have a very particular view of homosexuality; he believed that homosexuality was entirely based on narcissism. See as follows:

And, oh, no more; the likeness being such,
Why should they not alike in all parts touch?
Hand to strange hand, lip to lip none denies;
Why should they breast to breast, or thighs to thighs?
Likeness begets such strange self flattery,
That touching myself, all seems done to thee.
Myself I embrace, and mine own hands I kiss,
And amorously thank myself for this.
Me, in my glass, I call thee; but alas,
When I would kiss, tears dim mine eyes, and glass.
(full poem at http://www.angelfire.com/moon/sweetbitter/poetry.htm)

For Donne, men and women attracted to members of their same sex were infatuated with themselves. Needless to say, he was incredibly wrong. I am not attracted to girls because they look like me. Quite frankly, that's creepy (as is Donne's poem. The more you read it, the creepier it gets).

All that being said, I am glad I live in the age that I do. An age in which, yes, LGBT people still face horrible harassment and prejudice, but at least a time in which people are fighting for equal rights and recognizing that being gay is not "self flattery." An age in which Don't Ask, Don't Tell no longer exists. An age in which there is hope for great and positive change.

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