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John Donne Poem Summaries
The Good Morrow
In the aubade, The Good Morrow, the speaker celebrates his awakening with his beloved,
equating it to a new, quintessentially adult life, where souls uniting transcends the physical.
Renaissance imagery of voyages and cartography are employed, only to be dismissed as their
love is elevated above the earthly realm. The unity and balance of their love is reflected in
the unified rhyming triplet and metrical harmony.
The Sun Rising
In The Sun Rising, an anti-aubade, the arrogant speaker confronts the authoritative role of the
sun, claiming that the love he and his beloved share is richer and more wholesome than the
autonomy that the sun is confined to. The heavily punctuated opening lends a tone of
argument to the poem, which is carried through by the rigid metrical structure.
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Valediction is a love poem of the metaphysical convention, whereby the speaker appeals to
his beloved for strength and mildness in parting. The speaker does so by declaring his love
to be elevated, pseudo-religious, above the `profane', a love that extends to the souls and is
therefore far greater than those "whole soul is sense". Donne creates this sense of strength
through regular metrical pattern and the conceit of a twin compass: separation becomes
merely an expansion.
Holy Sonnet 10: Death Be Not Proud
Death Be Not Proud is a religious sonnet where an arrogant speaker undermines death,
which is personified, criticising its might by adopting a superior tone. He charts a line of
reasoning, equating death to an extended form of rest and sleep, deeming it as someone not
worthy of awe or terror but of contempt. Donne uses the paradox of life in death to convey
Christian contemporary ideas of an Afterlife.
The Flea reveals a confident speaker who pleads to his lover for sex through the conceit of a
flea: their blood having mingled within being the grounds enough for the speaker's
argument. The poem is typical of the metaphysical convention, with the speaker's utter
conviction in his position, intellectual arrogance, use of elaborate conceit and appeal to the
religious. The use of strict rhyme scheme reflects the intellectual vigour of the poem.
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Holy Sonnet 14: Batter My Heart
In Batter My Heart, paradox is used throughout to evoke the idea of spiritual renewal
through destruction. The speaker alludes to the Devil's influence, and implores God to be
similarly ruthless in redeeming him. The speaker addresses God as a lover, reflected through
the sonnet form to highlight the intensity of his desire for salvation.…read more