John Donne Poetry

Donne - Themes, Language, meaning, imagery, personification

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"The Sun Rising"

- "Busy old fool, unruly sun", "Saucy, pedantic wretch" -

- "She is all states, and all princes, I, nothing else is",  "All here in one bed lay", "This bed thy centre is"

- "nor, hours, days, months which are the rags of time" 

- "I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink" 

- 1st person - More personal, dramatic monologue

- Obtrustive rhyme scheme

- Unusual - normally associated with hope + happiness.

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"The Sun Rising"

- Personification, intrusion (Quote)

- She is everything, they are each other's world. (Quote)

- Love has no constraints, not bound by time, powerful.(Quote)

- Sun's beams - Sun not all-powerful here, but doesn't want to close his eyes in fear of losing sight of his love. (Quote)

- Person?

- Rhyme shceme?

- Unusual imagery?

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"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"

- Strong love, can withstand anything, even separation, travelling = dangerous (Theme)

-"Virtuous men pass mildly away"

- "Profanation"

- "Laity our love"

- "Sublunary lovers"

-"Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss"

- "Our two souls...which are one"

- "Like gold to aery thinness beat"

- Stiff twin compasses are two"

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"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"

- Theme

- Secure knowledge of going to heaven, die quietly, not a big deal. (Quote)

- Insult to the strength of his love (Quote)

- Love on a spiritual level (Quote)

- Under the moon, metaphysical yet still romantic (Quote)

- Won't miss physically, but mentally (Quote)

- Joined spiritually, strong love. (Quote)

- Metaphysical image, love can strectch across oceans and never break (Quote)

- Extended metaphor, travelling, metaphysical/mathematical, connected on map(Quote)


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"Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" - Criticism

- M. J. Cummings

- "A maudlin show of emotion would cheapen their love, reduce it to the level of the ordinary and mundane"

- "Relies primarily on extended metaphors to convey his message"

- "Remain united because they are part of the same soul"

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"Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" - Criticism

- Who?

- Ordinary and mundane emotion?

- Relies upon what?

- Comment on the twin compasses.

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"A Valediction: Of Weeping"

- Separation - Sadness

- "For thy face coins this mintage they are something worth"

- "Fruits of much growth they are"

- "Round ball"

- "My heaven dissolved so"

- "O more than the moon"

- "Weep me not dead"

- "Thou and I sigh one another's breath"

- "Who'er sighs most, is cruelest and hastes the other's death"

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"A Valediction: Of Weeping"

- Theme?

- Extended metaphor - Coins, his tears are worth something because they're shed for her. (Quote)

- Nature image, metaphor, tears come from purity of relationship? (Quote)

- Contextual - Shape of the Earth? New discoveries (Quote)

- His world and afterlife are ending without her (Quote)

- More powerful than the moon - discovery of planets/hemispheres, context (Quote)

- Metaphor - Travelling dangerous, don't drown him with tears. (Quote)

- Metaphor - Unbearably linked as one.

- The thought of her hurting hurts him too, upsetting one another, hyperbole (Quote)

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"A Nocturnal Upon St Lucy's Day, Being the Shortes

- Serious/ melancholic, feels like nothing/unworthy, emptiness, hurt from love - bereft, vacuous

- "The sun is spent"

- "Dead and interr'd"

- "Study me then"

- "All others, from all things, draw all that's good"

- "Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses"

- Regular rhyme + unobtrusive

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"A Nocturnal Upon St Lucy's Day, Being the Shortes

- Tone/theme?

- Sibilance - Little daylight at this time of year. (Quote)

- Everything is dead (Quote)

- Thinks he should be an example of the results of love (Quote)

- Everyone around him seems so much happier than himself (Quote)

- Lost both physically and spiritually, like dead bodies (Quote)

- Rhyme scheme?

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"The Flea"

- Constructed as a logical argument, intellectual - fleas = intimate, not a serious attitude to sex, light-hearted, seduction.

- "It ****'d me first"

- "In this flea our two bloods mingled be"

- "Our marriage bed"

- Pace of poem seems rushed - trying to persuade mistress into bed

- "Three sins in killing three"

- "Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence"

- "Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me"

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"The Flea"

- Metaphysical conceit - Argument? Tone?

-Sexual imagery/overtones (Quote)

- An intimate exchange, metaphor for sex, blood stronger than sexual fluids.(Quote)

- Bed similar to flea - Already joined (Quote)

- Rhythm?

- Against religion - Killing him by denying him sex, killing the flea, and killing herself by not giving himself to him. (Quote)

- Killed innocent flea + Their relationship - Mistress has 'squashed his argument' (Quote)

- Wouldn't hurt her honour to have sex with him, desperation.

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"Love's Alchemy"

- A harsh tone, unusual for Donne, love = Worthless, cynical

- Rhyming couplets - Convey anger + frustration

- "Winter seeming summer's night"

- "Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom's play"

- "Sweetness and wit they are, but mummy possess'd"

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"Love's Alchemy"

- Tone/meaning?

- Rhyme scheme? Why?

- Metaphor - Love is brief and bleak like winter (Quote)

- Pinnacle symbol of true love sounds painful - Wedding's like a play, glamourizing love (Quote)

- Women are like animated corpses - dead to emotion, will hurt you

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Holy Sonnet VI - "This Is My Play's Last Scene"

- Donne is on his deathbed, ready for death - Made his own death mask in advance to remind him

- "This is my play's last scene"

- "My pilgrimage's last mile"

- "Gluttonous death"

- "Unjoint my body and soul"

- "Purged of evil"

- "I leave the world, the flesh, the devil"

- "Impute me righteous"

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Holy Sonnet VI - "This Is My Play's Last Scene"

- Context

- 'play' is a metaphor for his life, just a means of entertainment until the afterlife (Quote)

- Metaphor - Donne's final religious journey - To heaven (Quote)

- Imagery - Unpleasant, related to 7 deadly sins (Quote)

- Wants his body + Soul broken - Meet with Christ in heaven (Quote)

- Donne is free of sin (Quote)

- Death has arrived. Flesh - Donne's youthful past. Devil - Free from temptation. (Quote)

- Calvanist reference - Some people are destined to go to heaven - Context (Quote)

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Holy Sonnet XI: "Spit In My Face"

- Donne asks to suffer in the same way that Christ suffered. A sense of guilt - Converting to Catholicism. "Crucify me"

- "Spit in my face, you Jews"

- 2nd person

- "For I have sinned and sinned"

- "God clothed himself in vile man's flesh"

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Holy Sonnet XI: "Spit In My Face"

- Meaning? + Quote

- Jews were blamed for the death of Christ

- Person?

- Repetition - Emphasises guilt and open admittance

- References to Jesus being a form of God coming down to Earth in the flesh.

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Holy Sonnet XVIII: "Since She Whom I Loved"

- A sonnet of a reflection on his spiritual being and relationship with God. Melancholic, sombre, reflective

- "Since she whom I loved"

- "Hath paid her last debt"

- "My God is dead"

- "Her soul early into heaven ravished"

- "My mind is set"

- "Dropsy melts me yet"

- Rhyming triplets

- "Thou dost woo my soul"

- "Thy tender jealousy

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Holy Sonnet XVIII: "Since She Whom I Loved"

- Meaning/tone?

- Past tense implies loss (Quote)

- Metaphor - his lover/wife has died, paying something back, body rots - Nutrients for the Earth (Quote)

- The most precious thing to him is now gone, feels like his life's over without her. (Quote)

- Violent, sexual image, she's died and been taken to God before her time (Quote)

- Donne = focused about progressing to heaven, his mind is at ease about his lover being in heaven (Quote)

- Awaiting his death to approach

- Rhyme?

- Unusual courtship/courtship - Loving God in human terms

- Oxymoron - God = Jealous lover

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"A Hymn to God the Father"

- Personal + direct response to God. Exasperated tone. Begs for forgiveness, reflection on past. God will forgive anything

- Each stanza is a seperate sin

- "Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun"

- "Though it were done before"

- Regular rhyming couplets/ triplets + Conversational speech

- "Others to sin"

- "Thou hast not done"

- "My last thread"

- "I shall perish on the shore"

- "Thou hast done, I have no more"

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"A Hymn to God the Father"

- Meaning/tone?

- Structure?

- Christian belief in the 'Original Sin' + Desperate plea for forgiveness (Quote)

- A pun on his own name (Quote)

- Rhyme/Rhythm - Personal relationship with God

- Led others into sin (Women? - Colourful youth?) (Quote) 

- Repetition - God still doesn't have Donne - More sins to confess (Quote)

- Metaphor - When he eventually passes away. (Quote)

- Metaphor - On the borders of salvation, rather than in heaven where he longs to be (Quote)

- Definite tone of confidence, and security in reconcilliation with God (Quote)

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"Hymn to God, My God, In My Sickness"

- Guaranteed a place in heaven, no fear of death, welcomes it, confident, but not arrogant,

- "My God"

-"Since I am coming to that holy room"

- Rhyming couplets - Unobtrusive - Very final, he is prepared for death

- "With thy choir of saints for evermore"

- "I tune the instrument here at the door"

- "I see my west"

- "Give me his other crown"

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"Hymn to God, My God, In My Sickness"

- Meaning?

- Personal relationship with God (Quote)

- A metaphor for heaven (Quote)

- Rhyme scheme?

- Positive/comforting image of holy music serenading him in heaven (Quote)

- Metaphor - Ready to face the afterlife, preparing himself for the awe of God's music. (Quote)

- Metaphor - Sun sets in the west, death? (Quote)

- Donne wants to die a death similar to Jesus making his "soul embrace" (Quote)

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"Elergy 19: To His Mistress Going To Bed"

- Open account of sex + its pleasures, no sense of reluctance, voice sounds excited, consumed by lust

- Slow rhythm - Waiting for his mistress to finally climb into bed

- "Come madam, come, all rest my powers defy"

- "Is tired with standing though he never fight"

- "Like heaven's zone glistering"

- "Unpin that spangled breastplate", "Unlace yourself for that harmonious chime"

- "That still can be, and still can stand so nigh"

- "Hairy diadem"

- "Love's hallow'd temple"

- "License my roving hands"

- "O my America! My new found land"

-"What needst thou have more covering than a man?"

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"Elergy 19: To His Mistress Going To Bed"

- Meaning/Tone?

- Rhythm?

- A plea, reserving his powers for this woman in particular, no one else is worthy (Quote)

- Donne is erect - Wants to move things along more quickly! (Quote)

- Simile/Religious imagery/Hyperbole - She is as beautiful to him as heaven (Quote)

- Wants his lover to undress, believes now is the right time (Quote)

- Her corset is still, but she evokes a 'movement' in him (Quote)

- Sexually explicit! (Quote)

- Metaphor - The bed is divine and sacred

- Asking for her permission (Quote)

- Metaphor - Her body is new discovered land to him - Metaphysical + Contextual (Columbus) (Quote)

- Rhetorical question - persuasive device, only needs him lying on top of her, no clothes (Quote)

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- The "Saddest" and most "uncomfortable" of our poets whose verse "exercises the same dreadful fascination that we feel in the grip of the worst kind of bore - The hot eyed, unescapable kind"

- "Archaic faith"

- "Donne envisions God's love for him as a very human love - and an unmistakably ****** love"

- "Some poems see love as above time"

- Love's Alchemy seems "Wholly cynical"

- "Intended to arouse the appetite it describes"

- "Very much aware that he is a sinner who needs the mercy of God"

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- C. S. Lewis

- Veronica Chater

- Veronica Chater

- Richard Gill

- Richard Gill

- C. S Lewis criticising Donne's use of ****** language.

- Richard Gill

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I love you. No one else seems to be doing Donne. Thanks



I'm doing Donne.. just not in the way he advocates in his poetry. 

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