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The Bait Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Donne Type: Poetry Views: 3298

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Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will some new pleasures prove,

Of golden sand, and crystal brooks,

With silken lines and silver hooks.There will the river whispering run,

Warmed by thy eyes more than the sun.

And there the enamoured fish will stay.

Begging themselves they may betray.When wilt thou swim in that live bath,

Each fish, which every channel hath,

Will amorously to thee swim,

Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.If thou, to be so seen, beest loath,

By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both;

And if myself have leave to see,

I need not their light, having thee.Let others freeze with angling reeds,

And cut their legs with shells and weeds,

Or treacherously poor fish beset

With strangling snare, or windowy net.Let course bold hand from slimy nest

The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,

Or curious traitors, sleave-silk flies,

Bewitch poor fishes' wandering eyes.For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,

For thou thyself are thine own bait;

That fish that is not catched thereby,

Alas, is wiser far than I.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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I feel that in the end he seems to be quite anguished with the woman he is referring to in his poem. The tone of his poem becomes an extreme cacophony.

| Posted on 2012-02-08 | by a guest

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“The Bait” by John Donne, is a poem that encompasses a multitude of metaphysical aspects that serve as the poem’s main embodiment. As the poem begins, Donne implies an analogy that he carries throughout the poem, that associates a beautiful woman to fish bait and men to fish, who are desperately hoping to be caught by the woman (fish bait). Since he carries these associations throughout the poem, they are considered extended metaphors. “The Bait” is endowed with a very characteristic ambiance, one that in some cases provokes objection and even assists in the inducing of doubts within the reader. For the simple thought that love and the pursuing of one’s love can be related in any way to fishing, gives the impression of absolute absurdity on some level or another.
The poet begins, bestowing, with enticing language, an invitation to an obvious significant other, the opportunity to come and live with him as his lover. The speaker depicts the outcome of that invitation, in the event that it was received well and acted upon accordingly, as a splendid little paradise of “golden sands, and crystal brooks” (3).
The poet then moves to illustrate a more or less pleasant representation of the romantic world in fish-form in the second stanza. He uses metaphors of fish all assembled in a “whisp’ring” river “warm’d by thy eyes” (6) that witnessed the beauty of a woman sharing, in that sense, some of same attributes as the sun. An entirely cheerful tone is maintained up until the last couple lines of the second stanza, where the poem experiences a slight change. The warmth is exaggerated by comparing it to the sun and then stating that it is superior to it. The fish, as though allured by bait, emulate a similar response when captivated by the woman’s beauty, and thus pursue the bait (the woman), betraying one another and themselves in their pursuit.
The third stanza provides the reader with an image of the bait openly enchanting the fish of “that live bath” (9). The men, as though fish swimming from all different directions or “channels”, will undertake any path in an effort to win the affection of the woman. It is apparent that the men (fish) obtain a greater pleasure from the actual winning of the woman’s love as opposed to receiving it, which may relate in some sense, to the man just wanting the bait but not wanting to be caught. Again, the last line coveys a suspiciously cautious implication that is easily distinguished from the previously pleasant-sounding verses.
The fourth stanza shifts abruptly regarding attitude, and transfers from an agreeable to a disagreeable tone. It talks of how the woman (the bait) and the pursuit to win her affection can be so influential in the alteration of a man’s life, that he may never be the same with or without her love. That in conclusion, the woman is a bear necessity when it comes to their existence and all else seems unreliable and incomparable.
The fifth stanza brings a darkened attitude towards the ever-so-perfect woman in the poem. Donne talks of letting “others freeze with angling reeds, /and cut their legs with shells and weeds” (20-21). It is apparent that other fish are struggling and are likely getting hurt in their pursuit for love. This imagery also helps to illustrate the men’s loss of ability to move and escape; pertaining to the thought that perhaps this woman is not entirely as wonderful as previously assumed.
There is talk of unpleasantness in the sixth stanza. The “bedded fish in banks out-wrest” tell of the exhaustion the men are experiencing as a result of their unsuccessful pursuits. They were charmed and unconsciously maneuvered. And although unwilling to succumb to such disastrous circumstances, seduction has belittled them and impoverished their hopes.
The poet now speaks of the consequences of a beauty such as the woman’s. The woman “art thine own bait” (26), and has been drawn into her own trap. As a result, the wiser of the fish are those who have stood clear of all allurement.
In conclusion, the poem “The Bait” by John Donne tells a common story of the innumerable pursuits of people for one another’s hearts. Humans can in some sense be compared to fish, when people lose all sense of direction and swim desperately regardless. People are easily manipulated and thus find themselves bewitched as a result.

| Posted on 2010-09-15 | by a guest

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It is a wonderful poem. And thanks for the analysis Banko!

| Posted on 2010-06-07 | by a guest

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Thank you very much Bako. Your analysis did help me;)

| Posted on 2010-06-07 | by a guest

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Here's my analysis:
This is a response to bring attention to the flaws and negative aspects of love that was purely ignored by Christopher Marlow's hyperbolic euphonic love poem. In other words, a parody of Marlow's poem to express Donne's view of love. Donne structured this poem logically and has it done at the beginning to be an imitation of Marlow's poem. As the poem progresses, the poem slowly begins to derail from Marlow's euphonic tone to a more darker and a more serious tone. The last stanza has the proverbal tone to convey ultimately the problems with courtly love that Marlow did not address. The conceit of this poem is man to fish and attractive woman to bait. The euphonic stanzas have the fourth line as a more of a caution. This structure acts as another method that Donne is attempting to convey the message that the happiness of love has unhappiness concealed within it.
The first stanza is a lot like Marlow's poem to make it appear like Marlow's poem. The imageries in the last two lines of this stanza although euphonically described are all related to fishing. Golden sands, crystal brooks, silken lines, silver hooks, all of the adjectives are euphonic and creates a pleasant tone. Sand relates to shore of a body of water like ocean, brooks is another water source where fish can live. The silken line and silver hook makes fishing look like paradise. The hook part however is hinting at a more unpleasant aspect.
The second stanza, Donne maintains some of the warm happy tone but at the end it begins to change slightly. The river whispering makes it seem very calm and serene. The warmth is exaggerated by comparing it to the sun and saying the sun is inferior to it. This has been a technique that Donne has often used like in the Sun Rising, he states that his woman's eye can blind the sun. The fishes are deeply infatuated with her (the woman) and even willing to betray themselves, which has tone that is completely different than the other three lines.
The third stanza gives the imagery of the bait in the water wiggling, every fish from everywhere will swim toward it amorously. This emphasizes the attractiveness of the bait (woman). Gladder to catch you than you him may be suggesting that the man just wants the bait but do not want to be caught (perhaps into a long term relationship). Once more the last line provides a cautious message despite the previous euphonic lines.
The fourth stanza is a transition from the pleasant to the more unpleasant tone. It says if a man loaths (or is relluctant to do anything) after seeing her, neither sun or moon can light their life as her image has "darknenest" both. And if one needs to see, the sun and the moon will not be needed as the woman will provide more light than them.
The fifth stanza talks about what happens when caught by the hook. They freeze, unable to run away by the angling reeds (fishing rod). Cut their leg, this imagery man mean loss of ability to escape because men uses legs to escape. Treachourously poor fish beset means the fish is betrayed all around by the bait and surrounded by traps and nets.
The sixth stanza continues the consquence. Coarse bold hands bring unpleasantness, slimy nest is cacophonic. The bedded fish, meaning hauled close to shore is out wrest (exhausted). The fish was charmed and manipulated by the silk thread that was moving through the water. This may mean the fish was seduced by its appearance.
At the last stanza Donne explains how the fish is deceived. The second line is a paradox where Donne is saying you, your own lust is a bait that drew you into this trap. Therefore the fish that did not fall for it is "wiser."

| Posted on 2010-01-05 | by a guest

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his poem is similar to 'the passionate shepherd to his love'. they both are postaral and stress beauty of women. they both promises to their lovers for some gifts if their lover accept live with them.

| Posted on 2009-12-01 | by a guest

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he wants the fish to mate with him, but relises it s a fish and can't.

| Posted on 2009-11-18 | by a guest

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his love is like a fish bait the poet ia like a fish along with all the men; she is the the bait b.c she is atractive to men and they ocme naturally to her.
this poem is an illusion to the passionate Shepard to my love

| Posted on 2009-01-29 | by a guest

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Thanks Bako, your analysis is really helpful for me to have a better understanding of the poem =D

| Posted on 2009-01-27 | by a guest

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in my own words the poem bait tells a man fall for a girl then the girl reject his offer to mary him because the girl thinks that the man was just joking and fulling her.

| Posted on 2009-01-04 | by a guest

.: Incorrect Analysis :.

The initial analysis posted is slightly incorrect, because it does not take the original intent into consideration. This poem was written as a response to Marlowe's "The Shepherd to his Love." It is in the exact same structure and form, and even opens with the same lines. In Marlowe's poem, the shepherd expresses his thoughts and desires to his love. Six years later, Sir Walter Ralegh wrote the opposing side, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." Ralegh's response was much less idealistic than Marlowe's romantic poem. Not to be outdone, Donne decided to rewrite the reply, removing pastoral imagery and, as always, introducing his sexually infused lyrics. Donne's poem, though with meaning as a singular piece, was intended first and foremost as an imitation of Ralegh in responding to an overly dramatic Marlowe.

| Posted on 2007-09-27 | by a guest

.: Bako :.

Here's a very rough analysis:

Verses 1-4:

Poet giving an invitation to a potential lover, and describing how magnificent and beautiful their love would be.

Verses 5-8:

Begins by using metaphors of fish gathered in a river warmed by beauty (the woman's) as would be by the sun. The fish (various men) would be enamoured by the women's beauty such as a fish is intrigued by bait. Although, in the process of pursuit of the bait (the woman), they may betray one another as well as themselves (such as a fish upon discovering the bait is indeed a hook).

Verses 9-12:

If the woman is willing to indulge the men and play along, the men will take any path ("channel") they can to attain the woman's affection. It will be more pleasant and rewarding for the men to attain the woman's love than for the woman to attain a man's love.

Verses 13-16:

If the narrator does not win the woman over, his life will be filled with loss and darkness, and he does not want to witness somebody else winning her love.

Verses 17-20:

Let others stuggle and potentially get hurt in the pursuit of love. Maybe these men will learn that this woman is not in fact as wonderful as they had assumed, inevitably causing them to somehow hurt the woman emotionally.

Verses 21-24:

Let you (the woman) not be pulled into "love" unwillingly; do not be deceived by false intentions of men.

Verses 25-28:

You (the woman) do not deserve deceit; because you yourself (through your beauty) are your own bait, drawing men to you (do not be drawn by them). Other men that are not drawn to you by your beauty, maybe they are wiser than me, because I am drawn by you (which may lead to disappointment).

| Posted on 2005-04-15 | by Approved Guest

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