Ogden's Basic English
Jack Sweeney's Basic English translation of Donne's 'Loves Deity'.
I long to talk with some old lovers ghost,
Who dyed before the god of Love was born:
I cannot think that he, who then lov'd most,
Sunk so low, as to love one which did scorn.
But since this god produc'd a destiny,
And that vice-nature custom lets it be;
I must love her that loves not me.
Sure they, which made him god, meant not so much,
Nor he, in his young godhead practis'd it.
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,
His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to Passives, Correspondency
Only his Subject was; it cannot be
Love, till I love her that loves me.
But every modern god will now extend
His vast prerogative as far as Jove,
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend,
All is the purlue of the God of Love.
Were we not weak'ned by this Tyranny
To ungod this child again, it could not be
I should love her, who loves not me.
Rebel and Atheist too, why murmure I.
As though I felt the worst that love could do?
Love may make me leave loving, or might try
A deeper plague, to make her love me too,
Which, since she loves before, I'm loth to see;
Falshood is worse than hate; and that must be,
If she whom I love, should love me.
John Donne (1669)
John (Jack) Sweeney adaptation to Basic English, 1943.
Talk with some old lover
Dead before the god of love had come to be
Would do my poor heart good. For he,
As full of love when living as I am now
Would not have done what I have done,
Have given love to an unkind, unloving one.
But as this god has made things so,
And ways of men have not till now said 'no',
No other way I see
But give my love to one
Who has no love for me.
This certainly was not designed by those
Who made him god, and he, when young,
Would not have let it be,
But when two hearts were touched with equal fire
His purpose was to see
A balance in the scales of their desire,
Loves answering one another
In regular harmony
His interest was; there is no love
Till I have love for her who gives her love to me.
In range of rule now every new-made god
Will undertake the part of Jove.
And all the acts and secrets of the heart
Are ruled and guided by the god of love.
If only, starting suddenly awake,
We might from this cruel boy his power take,
It, this way, would not be
That I gave love to her who has no love for me.
But why do I,
With heart at war against my god and government,
Say things which seem to say
That love's worst punishment has come my way?
Love still has the power to make me give up loving,
Or that much sharper pain, make her give love to me
Which, as another has her love, I would not see.
False love is worse than hate; and that would be,
If she who has my love, had love for me.