The Melford Hall manuscript, discovered in 2018 and referred to in this earlier question, contains 145 poems by John Donne among sundry other poems by divers poets such as Thomas Overbury, Francis Beaumont, and Thomas Carew. The manuscript also has six previously unknown and unattributed poems. The first such poem, "A Paradox", appears on ff. 46r.–46v. Here is a screenshot of part of f. 46r., with the first six lines of the poem:
And here is a screenshot of part of f. 46v., showing the remaining twelve lines of the poem:
Here is a modern-text transcription of the poem. The transcription is by me, and corrections are welcome:
Whoso terms love a fire, may like a poet
Feign what he will, for certain cannot show it.
For fire never burns but when the fuel's near
But love doth at most distance most appear.
Yet out of fire, water did never go
But tears from love abundantly doth flow.
Fire still mounts upward, but love oft descendeth:
Fire leaves the midst: love to the center tendeth.
Fire dries and hardens: love doth mollify,
Fire doth consume, but love doth fructify.
The powerful queen of Love (fair Venus) came
Descended from the sea, not from the flame
Whence passions ebb, and flow, and from the brain
Run to the heart like streams, and back again.
Yea love oft fills men's breasts with melting snow
Drowning their lovesick minds in floods of woe.
What is love, water then? It may be so;
But he saith truth, who saith he doth not know.
The poem is between two others that are known to be by Donne. The preceding poem, untitled in the manuscript, is usually called "The Paradox" and begins "No lover saith, I love". The subsequent poem is the well-known "Song (Go and Catch a Falling Star)". Despite this placement, "Whoso terms love a fire" does not read like Donne to me.
The poem has some elements in common with those of John Roe, which, as Herbert Grierson noted in his two-volume edition of Donne's poetry, were often included in manuscripts alongside Donne's and printed in editions of Donne's work printed posthumously from those manuscripts. The Melford Hall manuscript too includes four poems by Roe, such as "Song: Dear Love, continue nice and chaste". Grierson says Roe's poems bear:
very little resemblance to Donne's work. They are witty, but not with the subtle, brilliant, metaphysical wit of Donne ; they are obscure at times, but not as Donne's poetry is, by too swift and subtle transitions, and ingeniously applied erudition ; there are in them none of Donne's peculiar scholastic doctrines of angelic knowledge, of the microcosm, of soul and body, or of his chemical and medical allusions. (II.cxxxii)
I'm wondering whether any scholar or critic has attributed this recently-discovered poem to Roe. It's possible, though to my mind unlikely, that someone has argued that the poem is indeed by Donne. And yet another possibility is that the poem has been ascribed to some third poet, perhaps one of the others whose work is also in this manuscript. So: Has recent scholarship attributed this poem to Roe, Donne, or any other poet?
Donne, John. The Poems of John Donne. Ed. Herbert J. C. Grierson. Two vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1912. Volume I: The Text of the Poems, with Appendices. Volume II: Introduction and Commentary. Retrieved from archive.org April 30, 2023.
Medford Hall Manuscript. 1620–1759. British Library, London. Manuscript. https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=egerton_ms_3884_fs001r. Accessed April 30, 2023.