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Poetry of John Donne
Transcript of Poetry of John Donne
Step by step analysis to assist students in learning how to read, interpret and appreciate the poetry of John Donne.
Sweetest love, I do not go
by John Donne
Summary & Analysis
The actual title of the poem is "Sweetest Love I do not Goe" -- the textbook has a typo!
Written for his wife, Ann Moore
In the poem, Donne is preparing to go on a journey & his wife is afraid of what will happen to him and therefore does not want him to go.
Donne convinces his wife that he will be alright and tells her that time alone will actually prepare her for the possibility of his death in the future
Through the poem, Donne expresses his passionate love for his wife by "Argument & Reason"
Donne dwells on the transience of life & mankind's suffering.
Thus Donne moves from the personal realm to the universal realm in order to clothe his poem with a significant relevance.
Look at the questions on page 437 -- I will do the first 3 for you so that you may better understand how to read and answer such questions.
Do you agree with the speaker when, in lines 17-24, he says that we add to our own misfortunes? Why?
Remember to never say "I" even when asked an opinion style question!!!
While many believe that bad luck often just happens, even to the best of people, it is more likely that results that are not desired occur due to poor choices made in life or by making mistakes. Luck and fate are too abstract and it seems more likely that a person's choices have a greater influence on what happens to a person.
2. Recall & Infer
(a)What does the speaker say his reason is for leaving?
(b) To what remark of his beloved might he be responding in this poem?
Make sure you understand the meaning of the words "recall" and "infer"
Recall means - to remember or think back on
Infer - basically means to make an educated guess
(a) The speaker says his departure is a preparation for their ultimate separation in death.
(b) His beloved had asked if he was leaving because he no longer cared for her and it is this remark that causes him to answer in such a way.
Why am I always using "the speaker" and not "John donne" ???
3. Analyze & Speculate
How would you outline the speaker's argument? What might the argument's effect on the beloved be?
Remember, from this time period and even some of the sonnets in the renaissance, setting up a problem or an argument is normal in poetry.
(a) The speaker denies that he would ever leave his beloved because he had tired of her or had found a better love; he exaggerates a worse separation which is his eventual death. He reminds her that "like the sun" he will return and he tells her not to make it worse by crying. He begs her not to think ill of him lest she tempt fate and he truly die and he tells her she should think of them as turned aside in sleep since remembering their devoted love keeps them ever together.
(b) The effect of such an argument may persuade the beloved of the speaker to feel more at ease with his departure and convince her of his apparent love and devotion to her.
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne
Donne's speaker begins with the very weird metaphor of an old man dying. Romantic, right? He says that the parting between him and his wife should be like the gentle death of an old man—you can't even tell when he's stopped breathing. You had us at 'dead guy,' John.
Then he shifts gears and compares shallow love to earthquakes that make a big scene and cause a big fuss, but don't have tremendous lasting effects. On the contrary, his love is like the unnoticed, subtle movements of the stars and planets that control the fates of every person (well, according to popular belief). That super-handsy couple can't stand to be apart because their love is based solely on physical contact, but the love he has can stretch any distance because the pair share one soul. Now he's turning on that old Donne charm.
To further prove the greatness of their love, he gives his last metaphor: a mathematical compass—because nothing says sex appeal like mathematical apparatus. But he says that he and his wife are like a compass when drawing a circle. One foot of the compass (Donne) goes way out and travels around, while the other (his wife) stays planted at home and leans after it. But those two compass feet are part of one unit and will always end up back together. And we give props to anyone that can drop the microphone with that as a closing image.
On page 439 we will work together on #2
On your paper, answer all 3 parts.
Remember what each word means and to specifically answer each question.
The speaker suggests that the part "mildly" and this shows unity and their confidence in their love.
Students may respond that their love is "refined" and needs no physical reassurance. Their souls will not be separated but will expand like beaten gold to cover the distance between them.
Open your assignment for today which is on John Donne's "Holy Sonnet 10"
You will be reading the poem, summarizing what it is about and answering the Critical Reading Questions in a similar fashion to how you were shown and practiced.