John Donne- Treatment of Secular Love Essay

Words: 2093
Pages: 9

Using four poems, examine the distinctive poetic features of Donne’s treatment of secular love.
Within Donne’s vast range of secular works he provides no simple definition of love; his treatment of such matters reaching radical and unconventional highs. It is through his great variety of emotion and passion that Donne explores, arguably, his most consistent theme of love itself. “The Sunne Rising”, “The Ecstasy”, “A Valediction of Forbidding Mourning” and “Air and Angels” are four poems which contrast on various levels but still link on common ground in their ideas and techniques to which Donne uses to portray a passionate yet sometimes cynical outlook on love.
Donne’s insight into the agony of love is expressed through his
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In “Air and Angels”, Donne is being directed by the angel “So thy love may be my love’s sphere”, his soul is governed by her presence as they inhabit one sphere. In “A Valediction of Forbidden Mourning” this philosophy is spoken to assure the lover that his departure will bring no distance to their love, and that their movement apart physically will bring no “trepidation” to their spiritual love: “But trepidation of the sphere’s, /Though greater far, is innocent.”
This also links to the “Sunne Rising”: here the consequences of their journeying apart are being compared metaphorically to that of equinoxes in the earth’s crust, stating they have no apparent effects, as in the “Sunne Rising” where the sun is said to have no effect. Donne empowers his love: as thus it is stronger and can be defied by nothing.
However, if we examine the Ptolemaic theories in “The Ecstasy”, Donne contradicts his previous arguments for spiritual conquest, using it instead to argue for the soul to be returned to the body manifestation:
“We are/ Th’ intelligences, they the sphere.”
The distinct shape of a perfect sphere is debatably symbolic of the lover’s perfection and Donne’s admiration. This also extends into the shape of her tears; drawing out associations with the moon and the world: her face has become his world. Like other metaphysical poets, Donne uses conceits to extend analogies and to make thematic connections between otherwise dissimilar objects: