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Love's Usury by John Donne
Transcript of Love's Usury by John Donne
What is the significance of the lines:"From country grass to confitures of court, Or city's quelque-choses; let not report
My mind transport."?
Multiple Choice Questions
The speaker makes a deal with Love itself.
FOR every hour that thou wilt spare me now,
I will allow,
Usurious god of love, twenty to thee,
When with my brown my gray hairs equal be.
Till then, Love, let my body range, and let
Me travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget,
Resume my last year's relict ; think that yet
We'd never met.
Let me think any rival's letter mine,
And at next nine
Keep midnight's promise ; mistake by the way
The maid, and tell the lady of that delay ;
Only let me love none ; no, not the sport
From country grass to confitures of court,
Or city's quelque-choses ; let not report
My mind transport.
This bargain's good ; if when I'm old, I be
Inflamed by thee,
If thine own honour, or my shame and pain,
Thou covet most, at that age thou shalt gain.
Do thy will then ; then subject and degree
And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee.
Spare me till then ; I'll bear it, though she be
One that love me.
Key Points, Definitions and Annotations
"...every hour that thou wilt spare me...I will allow...When with my brown my gray hairs"
Paraphrase: I'll subject myself to you when I am older.
"...travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget..."
The speaker emphasizes the things he could have done if he was not enchanted by love.
Usurious-> Usury: the illegal action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.
Sojourn: temporary stay
Relict: something that has survived from earlier times
"...from country grass to confitures of court Or city's quelque-choses ..."
Paraphrase: I do not want to fall for any women, not farm girls, not high-class women, nor city girls.
"...mistake by the way... The maid, and tell that lady of delay... Only let me love none..."
The speaker tells Love to keep him from accidentally falling in love someone (not yet)
Confitures: preserved jam (context: the sweeties of high-class)
"...let not report... My mind transport"
Paraphrase: Keep my mind in check
"This bargain's good... I be Inflamed by thee"
Paraphrase: "Wait until I am old, and I'll be enchanted by Love"
"If thine own honour, or my shame and pain, Thou covet most, at that age thou shalt gain"
Paraphrase: Love, if you have honor or you want my shame and pain the most, let me gain age.
"I'll bear it, though she be One that love me."
Paraphrase: I'll bear old age to get a woman who loves me back.
Covet: to yearn to possess/have something
What does usury mean, in the context of the poem?
a. the practice of lending money and requiring interest
b. the act of using someone to better own situation
c. to use an object
d. to give out money freely
What is the speaker's opinion on love?
a. the speaker is mad that he cannot fall in love
b. the speaker finds love very restricting
c. the speaker believes it is important to fall in love at a young age
d. the speaker doesn't believe in love
What is the speaker asking in the first two lines of the 1st stanza?
a. the speaker wants more time to be alone
b. the speaker wants more time at a young age to have fun with different girls
c. the speaker wants to fall in love early
d. the speaker wishes that he hadn't married at such a young age
Who is the speaker talking to for most of the poem?
a. his lover
b. the God of Love
c. his parents
"Let me think any rival's letter
And at next nine
Keep midnight's promise..."
Paraphrase: (To a lover)
If someone else promises to meet you 12, I'll meet you a 9 ;)
This work by Donne is a transcendent appeal by the author to the "Goddess of Love." It is a cry of youth to allow the very essence of love to permeate life, and being. The youthful Donne is willing to negotiate with the Goddess of Love to ensure that love doesn't restrain him, as he feels that love is holding him back from living his life freely. Only the singular passion which he calls love may dominate in the now (True love is the only thing he wants).
In the first stanza, the deal is offered. Donne is willing to give the Goddess of Love 20 hours of his time for every 1 hour of freedom he gets, allowing him to experiment freely with women (no strings attached).
In the second stanza Donne is willing to read other lovers' mail in order to externalize the passion he looks for, even having relations with a maid on the way to an appointment with another woman to further embody this passion. Also, Donne requests that nothing distracts him from the purest form of love (the country girls, confitures of court and the quelque-choses).
In the final stanza, Donne is saying that when he is old (perhaps middle age) and can no longer love through his physical body the way he used to, he will offer himself to the Goddess of Love completely.Then, the Goddess of Love can collect whatever she wishes. Donne will be at her disposal and will repay her in whatever way, whether it be in shame or pain.
But at the very end of the poem, John pleads to the Goddess of love to be spared so he can pursue love in it's purest form. He pretty much took back his promise that he made with the Goddess of Love in stanza one.
What are some rhetorical devices in this poem?
Who is "thou" (in the first line) referring to?
How is this poem reflective of John Donne's life?
What is the bargain he makes at the end of the poem (last stanza)?