John Donne Flashcards Preview

A2 English > John Donne > Flashcards

Flashcards in John Donne Deck (30)
Loading flashcards...

The Ecstasy:

Poem explores the relationship between love and our souls

Poem explores the relationship between love and sex

Ecstasy = process literally of going out of the body

The Ecstasy is a celebration of the soul and that holiness and is maintaining that the body is the sexual aspect in which enables humans to maintain that connection

Poem celebrating sexuality and love suggesting that these themes are not something separate from religion, beauty or holiness


The Funeral:

Speaker is imagining their death and what will be found when they die


The Relic:

Explores the idea that love is a mystery, something difficult and special to express

Relic = Catholic symbol, suggests should be rejected in his culture

Idea of death prevalent, imagining his death

Cheeky tone to the poem

Celebration of love and what love might mean and what it could be


A Valediction Forbidding Mourning:

Poem about the separations between lovers

Metaphysical conceit – really unusual metaphor of a compass used to make a circle – unusual as it doesn’t seem to make any sense

Shows the pain of separation


The Apparition:

Petrarchan themes of love poetry:
1) scorned lover who is dying of rejection
2) imaginary regret that woman will feel


A Nocturnal Upon St Lucy's Day, being the Shortest Day:

Poem of mourning, and devastating loss

St Lucy’s Day often considered the shortest day of the year ‘December 13th’ – renaissance time considered the shortest day – metaphor as speaker feels like this is not only the shortest day but also almost the end of all days


The Anniversary:

Another poem where Donne exposes the idea that love creates a world unto itself and its one that is timeless and unaffected by external factors

Uses metaphysical, religious, conceit within stanza 2


Love's Growth:

Exploration of the idea of testing your understanding of what love can be

Confusion in the speaker about whether their love can actually be real if it changes – questions can love actually change?

Distinction between emotional love and a physical love


Love's Alchemy:

Depressing, pessimistic vision, seems to be from the viewpoint of someone who has been hurt by love and betrayed by love thus can see nothing in it, except a horrible, mystical

Alchemy = magical chemistry – sought to turn metals to gold, something against religion (not in accordance with religion) but magical nonetheless – negative connotations


A Valediction of Weeping:

Title refers to a saying goodbye

Seems to be with Ann – suggests after marriage

Conveys how it may be about him leaving Ann to go travelling


The Flea:

Early poem of Donne’s

Inferred before his marriage

Wants to seduce women

Conceit – using a flea to argue a girl should sleep with him


Twickenham Garden:

Throughout the poem there is indication Donne has been rejected and thus has wrote the poem to express his emotions of this – as it is a poem written after his marriage to Ann this therefore appears to be an imagined poem

Poem centred around change

Religious imagery – such as the bread and wine

Dark and sombre tone

Lacks arguments and persuasion

Lacks abrupt openings as shown in other poems

Rhythm of the poem is upbeat and contrasts with the mood expressed – may convey how it is dramatized and fake

Sad tone = miserable


Air and Angels:

Conceit – their love is like the way angels love

May be talking about Ann – putting her higher than she should be by comparing her to an angel

Metaphysical poem as talks about supernatural and science – elevates the relationship and makes it extraordinary

Arrogance – as puts them both higher on the chain of being – angelic

Dialogue of one – talking to her “thee” – personal pronoun – conversational opening yet all from his perspective “I”


The Canonisation:

Written after his marriage to Ann

10 monosyllable – emphatic tone

Title refers to when someone becomes a Saint – as Martyrs’ brought by death by their love, they will be seen as abruptly important


Woman's Constancy:

About how speaker, Donne, is addressing the woman he was with the night before – wants her to stay

Sarcastic tone – makes fun of excuses she comes up with “now thou hast love me one whole day”

Uses lots of rhetorical questions – shows disbelief at the excuses she is coming up with

Unique poem of Donne’s as counter argument shown – still most dominant – may be due to career as lawyer

Mentions contrast law and how marriage was binding between families

Signing contracts into fear is against the law – highlights how she is afraid of love

Donne states that whatever arguments are mentioned by her are inferior to his counter arguments

Speaker manipulates argument therefore seems as through Donne won

Rejecting romantic idealism of spiritual love, permanence and unfulfilled longing – rejects conventions of traditional love

Links to Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star


Song: Sweetest Love I do not go

Poem centred around the fact that John Donne is about to go travelling

“Sweetest love suggests about to leave Ann

Speaker states love for travelling but never as much as his love for her

States being apart is good as it positively prepares them from when one of them dies

Second stanza – metaphysical – more cause to return to Ann than the sun

Third stanza – metaphysical – sun has more power than man

Forth stanza – doesn’t enjoy travelling as hurts Ann when he goes

Reassures her that she is always with him on his travels

Fifth stanza – states Ann is divine and they will be together again someday


The Sun Rising:

Donne is talking to the ‘sun’. – Personified sun, talks informally and talks down to the sun

The Sun – greater power, believed in astronomy and worshipped the sun as a power – contradicts this idea and treats the sun as inferior

Poem based in bed with a woman – potentially his wife

Reflects some of the same ideas as ‘The Good Morrow’

Tone and mood of the poem is confident, arrogant tone


The Good Morrow:

Poem is about love, it is seen as an intense absolute experience, which isolates the lovers from the reality.

Contains three stanzas with seven lines in each and follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCC.

All three stanzas represent three stages of love

First stanza deals with the past experience of love.

Second stanza brings the serene and peaceful experience that they gained after consummating their love. It is the celebration of present love and it makes their souls awaken to the reality. Moreover, it makes them faithful to each other and they are savouring the joy of the previous night still

Third stanza reveals the future of their love where both the poet and his beloved become immortal. It is the perfect union and the contentment of the lovers. It is the union of two souls and mutual understanding between the two lovers

In brief John Donne in his poem ‘Good Morrow’ celebrates love as a supreme experience in the world. He rejects the rigid and superficial Elizabethan conventions. He adds realism, sincerity and passion.


Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star:

Satirical Poem – gives a list of impossible tasks

Can be considered as an antifeminist poem which is totally different from Courtly Love poetry. In Courtly Love poetry women were considered as very sophisticated and angelic figures yet this poem brings a very harsh comment on women.

Through seven impossible tasks he brings out the idea of infidelity and fickleness of women. According to the poet there is a small frequency of having fair and virtuous women in the world. All these impossible tasks point out the futility of attempting to find a good woman.

First stanza he orders to ‘go and catch a falling star.’ Next to have a child after eating a ‘mandrake roote’ which contains a false belief in Donne’s time. And next another mythical belief which is that devil’s foot is cleft. Furthermore he challenges the reader to teach him to hear mermaids singing which is again impossible. As we all know mermaid’s sea fairies and they were used as mythical figures in ancient stories.

Second stanza further suggests that a seeker could ‘ride ten thousand days and nights’ till his hair grows white without finding a true woman.

Third stanza he confirms his cynical argument. The poet accuses all women saying that they lack the ability to remain true to any man.

There is a playful tone in the whole poem with dramatic rhetorical questions.

This poem can be viewed as a reaction to the extreme purity in Courtly Love poetry.


Elegy: To His Mistress Going to Bed

Probably written late 16th century

Elegy = usually written in praise of people, yet Donne has altered it for his purpose, innovative

Written in rhyming couplets

Stanza 1: Verbally undressing her

Uses references to geography, religion, war, books, Kingdoms and rulers and the law


Holy Sonnet V:

As prayer – suggests needs to be saved

Mix of English and Petrarchan form

Intense and serious tone



Holy Sonnet VI:

Context – imagining on his death bed thus appealing to God


Holy Sonnet VII:

After Ann’s death = somber tone

Centre’s around Christian idea of ‘justice day’

Petrarchan + English Sonnet form

Religious imagery

Links to Holy Sonnet XI


Holy Sonnet I:

Shift in Donne’s early poetry

Later in life evident moves away from the sexualized poetry of his youth to a more religious viewpoint

At this time, prominent figure in the church in England and as a result his sermons are quite famous and he writes these Holy Sonnets to God

Prayer that demands God takes responsibility for what it has made and not allow it to fall apart


Holy Sonnet X:

Sonnet suggests that death is a celebration

Suggests that Donne wants to die and is seeking death

Donne still appears frightened of death

Suggest religion and God is something that exceeds death and thus there is no need to be afraid of death


Holy Sonnet XI:

Follows typical JD rhyme scheme – abba cdcd ee

Combining structure of Elizabethan Sonnet with the rhyme of the Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet

Dramatic tone – recreating the crucifixion


Hymn to God my God, in my Sickness:

Donne is ill – nearing the end of his life


A Hymn to God the Father:

Rhyme – ABAB

Hymn – religious subject matter


Goodfriday, 1613. Riding Westward:

Good Friday = Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Riding Westward = refers to the fact Donne has been forced to ride out on a business matter, rather than reflect – wants to be in East, Israel

Links to ‘Air and Angels’


Holy Sonnet XIV:

Poem that makes reader uncomfortable as it’s an impassioned demand for God to take control of the speakers sole and help him to believe and to surrender to an all-powerful God

Shocks reader as asking God to be forcibly taken over, raped, as a way of believing and a way of surrendering to God

Asking because he doesn’t have the strength to do it yet feels doesn’t just need help, but needs to be forced