John Donne as a Love Poet
It would not be easy to extract a simple definition of love from Donne’s love poems as these present a surprising variety of moods and attitudes to the emotion or feeling. The poems are at times general, at other times, splendidly passionate, at yet other times cynical and touched with scorn and bitterness. Passion makes much of the love poetry of Donne. The opening of many poems is dramatic in its passion.
“I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I did till we loved.” (The Good Marrow)
“Whoever comes to shroud me do not harm” (The Funeral)
“Busie old fools, unruly sunne,
Why dost thou thus” (The sun Rising).
These poems are marked by cynicism and scorn. In these poems, Donne seems to be expressing contempt towards love itself. Even here, however we have a variety. His song, beginning with “Go And Catch A Falling Starre” ends with a bitter mocking, cynicism and denunciation of the fair sea. No where can one find a true woman even if one travels the whole globe.
False, ere I come to two, or there.”
There is no Platonism here but bitter satire against women’s insincere attitude.
“Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you wait your leter.”
Several of the love poems are marked by simple, pure affection. Here the conception of love rises to something concrete, tender and affectionate, here Donne is neither petrarchan nor Platonic. In these poems, Donne celebrate the best in conjugal love, “The Anniversarie” was written to celebrate the anniversary of his wedding. It gives a fine picture of domestic bliss. Conjugal love knows no change or decay. It is immortal and must continue even in the grave.
“All other things to their destruction draw,
Only your love hath no decay;
This no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday.”
Donne’s poems also present sensuous love in all its aspects. From the bitterness of love thwarted, to the fleeting paradise of desire fulfilled. For...