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Analysis of John Donne’s poem “The Canonization” Essay

The poem “The Canonization” written by John Donne is about love. Throughout this poem Donne reveals both concepts of physical love and spiritual love. The words that Donne has chosen in this poem are an example of a poetic technique that not only allows the reader to understand the speaker, but also be able to see images based on his word choice about the different aspects of love.

In the first stanza the opening line is “For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love!” This line shows the importance of love to the speaker in this poem when he demands to let him love. The speaker also refers to the physical aspects of himself in lines two and three ” my palsy or my gout, My five gray hairs”, which gives the reader an image of an older person. The first three lines show that true love is powerful, that it is not based on physical attributes, and that love is timeless. Unlike the artificial love that the speaker refers to in line seven as the “[king’s] stamped face”.

The third stanza represents the uncertainty that people face while they are falling in love. This particular stanza is mostly rhetorical questions about his feelings. For example in lines eleven through thirteen says, “What merchant ships have my sighs drowned? Who says my tears have overflowed his ground? When did my colds a forward spring remove?” These lines speak of his possible sadness and risk of heartache by falling in love. While at the end of this stanza the speaker answers all of his own questions with the statement “Though she and I do love.” in line eighteen. Meaning that regardless of the bad things in life that could happen the speaker and his lover will love one another.

Throughout the fifth stanza Donne describes the spiritual aspect of love through the speaker, while at the same time through certain words the speaker is saying Donne is showing the reader the physical love between the speaker and his lover. By doing this Donne shows that spiritual and physical love may be different, but they are also connected. An example of these two aspects of love being shown at the same time is in line twenty and twenty-one “Call her one, me another fly; We are tapers too, and at out own cost die;” These lines Donne uses the metaphor of a moth drawn to a flame.┬áThis being a metaphor of spiritual love is about how the speaker is destined to be with his lover and how he is drawn to her. On the other hand, in line twenty-one it says, “We are tapers too, and at our own cost die;” This line is a metaphor of a candle, which is a symbol of love and a source of heat. This metaphor shows the reader the physical passion between these two lovers and the way Donne uses the word “die” in line twenty-one is referring to an orgasm between these two lovers. Within this one line he shows that the speaker and his lover are both physically and spiritually connected.

In addition, stanza five and six they both enforce the idea of living and dying for love when lines twenty – one, twenty – six, and twenty – eight that state “at our own cost die … We die and rise the same … We can die by it, if not live by love,” These means that the two lovers will always be connected, although in time they will die a physical death they will live on to be “A pattern of … love!” in line forty – five. Meaning that because of their love they will live on throughout time being “a pattern” for future generations of lovers.

Finally, Donne is a very skillful poet by using one word to have multiple meanings. This poem is full of imagery that allowed the reader to fully understand the two concepts of love while explaining one through words and showing the other by using those same words. This concept of spiritual and physical love being different, but at the same time connected to one another is very interesting. “The Canonization” is not only about the relationship between the speaker and his lover, but between all men and women who are in love, falling in love, and waiting to love and be loved in return.

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