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The Paradox Analysis

Author: poem of John Donne Type: poem Views: 24

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No Lover saith, I love, nor any other

Can judge a perfect Lover;

Hee thinkes that else none can, nor will agree

That any loves but hee;

I cannot say I'lov'd. for who can say

Hee was kill'd yesterday?

Lover withh excesse of heat, more yong than old,

Death kills with too much cold;

Wee dye but once, and who lov'd last did die,

Hee that saith twice, doth lye:

For though hee seeme to move, and stirre a while,

It doth the sense beguile.

Such life is like the light which bideth yet

When the lights life is set,

Or like the heat, which fire in solid matter

Leave behinde, two houres after.

Once I lov's and dy'd; and am now become

Mine Epitaph and Tombe.

Here dead men speake their last, and so do I;

Love-slaine, loe, here I lye.


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

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This is not my analysis, but I found it on Yahoo Answers and noticed that the comments were empty and that people like me who possibly need help with this poem will probably come here after searching for it, so here it is:
Donne is very difficult, so I can understand why you'd be confused. As for the meaning of this poem, I'm can't give you a simple summary because it's very complicated. But the first thing that you should notice is the poem's title ("The Paradox"). So, think about the meaning of the word "paradox." It's a statement/thing that seems like it should come to one conclusion, but it comes to a conclusion that makes no sense.
So in this poem, Donne starts by talking about love, but he's obviously relating it to death, which is paradoxical. But what is the connection between love and death? Well, to find that out (and this goes for any of Donne's poetry) it might help to first translate the poem into the English that you're used to speaking/hearing. Here is a "translation" of the poem (though, an imperfect one) to help you better understand the meaning. (I'm putting a few sidenotes in parenthesis):
No lover says that they love, and no one can find/be a perfect lover.
Whoever thinks he is thinks that he is the only one who loves.
I can't say that I've loved because it's impossible to say anything if you were killed yesterday.
Death kills love's heat with cold. (This could be the other way around, though)
We can only die once, so whoever has loved is dead.
If anyone says that he can love twice, he lies.
For, the one (who has loved) and seems to be alive is only a trick on our senses.
The life that he seems to have is only the afterglow of his life,
Like the heat that is left by a fire two hours after it's burned out.
I once loved and died and have become my own epitaph and tomb.
I have been slain by love! Here, I die!
I'm not sure if that's any clearer than the original poem, but maybe it is. I think it at least shows the connection that Donne is making between love and death, which is to say that love always leads to "death." So, maybe you can come up with what you think this might mean. To give you a hint, in Donne's time, "death" doesn't always literally mean death. You might want to do some research on that word's multiple connotations in the seventeenth century to help you better understand this poem. Happy reading! :)
This is from x - NOT my words.

| Posted on 2010-05-31 | by a guest

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