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Love's Alchemy [2]

Presentation of John Donne's "Love's Alchemy" deep analysis and understanding
by

Stella Moraes Barreto

on 23 September 2013

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Transcript of Love's Alchemy [2]

Love's Alchemy by John Donne
John Donne
London, England (1572-1631)
Love's Alchemy
Summary
The Speaker makes a comparison of how alchemists and lovers are both searching for impossible things in life, true love and a magical elixir. The Speaker infers he has already lived and knows love like this cannot be found. With this cynical tone he finally challenges the reader to take the risk of love following his point of view; not from the lover nor the alchemist. He ends with justifying that just like how chemists will never find the elixir of life, no one will ever find love that lasts forever.
The poem is a traditional Donne poem because of its metaphysical qualities such as being cynical, pessimistic, showing anger towards love and being a stimulus of intellect.
Themes
Sexual commentary
Founder of Metaphysical Poets (rhyming schemes, elements of fiction such as similes, metaphors, paradoxes and imagery)
Roman Catholic family when practice was illegal (inspiring his poetry later)
John Donne and Ben Johnson can be considered contemporaries from Shakespeare in English poetry and literature (Friday Street Club)
Time period where alchemists were being criticized - Ben Johnson's play "The Alchemist" (1610)
"Love's Alchemy" was first published in 1633 (Poems)
Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than I,
Say, where his centric happiness doth lie;
I have lov'd, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
5 I should not find that hidden mystery.
Oh, 'tis imposture all!
And as no chemic yet th'elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot
If by the way to him befall
10 Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,
So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer's night.

Our ease, our thrift, our honour, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble's shadow pay?
15 Ends love in this, that my man
Can be as happy'as I can, if he can
Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom's play?
That loving wretch that swears
'Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds,
20 Which he in her angelic finds,
Would swear as justly that he hears,
In that day's rude hoarse minstrelsy, the spheres.
Hope not for mind in women; at their best
24 Sweetness and wit, they'are but mummy, possess'd.
Elements of fiction
Personification
- "Pregnant Pot" in line 8 - two different interpretations as in the Platonic lover and the alchemist view

Metaphor
- Donne compares love's alchemists to alchemists whose life pursuit was turning metals into gold. (main theme)
Antithesis
- Donne starts by saying the other's opinion (contrary to his)
Oxymoron
- hoarse means rough while minstrel is poetry/music which is seemingly beautiful like marriage.
Repetition
- "Our" is used four times in the first line of stanza two.
Literary commentary
- It's credible
Donne's been there done that. According to his ideas and style (ambiguous interpretations)

- Sarcasm is effective.
Basically says Love is stupid

- Cynical outlook
Donne has problems with love.

-Criticism to old science and platonic love
might even been criticizing marriage/women
Death and lovers (linking John Donne's life)
Eternal love vs magical elixir
"Some that have deeper digged love's mine than I
Say where his centric happiness is." (1-2)
"And as no chemic yet the elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot" (7-8)
Main theme
Suggests both soul mates (eternal naive love) and magical elixir do not exist and never will be found

"I have loved, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery." (3-5)

"O ! 'tis imposture all ;
And as no chemic yet th' elixir got," (6-7)

"So, lovers dream a rich and long delight
But get a winter-seeming summer's night." (11-12)
Unknown Words
Scorn - belief that something is worthless or despicable
Wretch - unfortunate or unhappy person
"Hoarse minstrely" - rough in sound/ comes from minstrel (medieval entertainer travelling place to place to recite poetry/music)
Odoriferous- yeilding or diffusing an odor.
Elixir- an alchemic preparation or potion said to have qualities to prolong life.
"Endure the short
scorn
of a bridegroom's play?" (17)
"That loving
wretch
that swears," (18)
"In that day's rude
hoarse minstrelsy
, the spheres." (22)
"Some
odoriferous
thing, or medicinal." (10)
"no chemic th'
elixir
got" (7)
" O ! 'tis imposture all ;
And as no chemic yet th' elixir got,
But glorifies his
pregnant pot
," (8)

"Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than I, / Say, where his centric happiness doth lie."(1-2)

"
Our
ease,
our
thrift,
our
honour, and
our
day,"
Works Cited
Lorcher, Trent. "Meaning and Poetic Devices in "Love's
Alchemy"." Bright Hub Education. N.p., 17 Jan 2012. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <http://www.brighthubeducation.com/homework-help-literature/70073-loves-alchemy-analysis-poetic-devices-meaning/>.

"Love's Alchemy: John Donne- Summary and Critical Analysis."
Bachelor and Master. BachelorandMaster. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <http://www.bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/love-alchemy.html>.

Richard, Melanie, ed. "334 Love's Alchemy." Leonidas. PB Works,
n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2013. <http://leonidas.pbworks.com/w/page/35966060/334 Love's Alchemy>.

"Hope not for mind in women ; at their best,
Sweetness and wit they are, but mummy, possess'd." (24-25)
sexual and gender commentary - role of women
Life influence: his impossible love and marriage to Anne More and death 16 years later.
"So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer's night" (11-12)
Influence and similarity with Shakespeare
"'Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds," (19)
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds" (Sonnet 116)
element of imagery in the poem as well
Point of view

Diction
Rhyme scheme and meter
Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than
I
,
Say, where his
centric
happiness doth
lie
.
I have loved, and got, and
told
,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were
old
,
I should not find that
hidden mystery
.
O ! 'tis
imposture
all ;
And as no
chemic
yet th'
elixir
got
,

But glorifies his
pregnant

pot
,
If by the way to him
befall
Some
odoriferous
thing, or
medicinal,
So,
lovers dream a rich and long
delight
,

But get a
winter-seeming
summer's

night
.
Our
ease,
our
thrift,
our
honour, and
our

day
,
Shall we for this vain bubble's
shadow

pay
?
Ends love in this, that my
man
Can be as happy as I can, if he
can
Endure the short scorn of a
bridegroom's

play
?
That
loving wretch
that
swears
,
'
Tis not the bodies marry, but the
minds
,
Which he in her
angelic

finds
,
Would swear as justly, that he
hears
,
In that day's rude
hoarse minstrelsy
, the
spheres
.
Hope not for mind in women ; at their
best
,
Sweetness and wit they are, but
mummy
,
possess'd
.

"Our case, our thrift, our honor, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble’s shadow pay?
Ends love in this," (13-15)
Shall we spend our whole lives searching for the impossible? (audience effect)
--------
---------
(oxymoron)
Full transcript