John Donne All Brief

Q.1. What is metaphysical poetry?

Ans. Metaphysical poetry means poetry dealing with metaphysical subjects like the nature of the universe, the movement of the stars and planets, the creation of man and his relation with the universe, the nature of the soul and its function in the body made of flesh and blood, and the whole relationship of man with God.

0.2. Bring out the main features of metaphysical poetry.

Ans. Metaphysical poetry is generally marked by such characteristics as wit, conceit, ratiocination, blend of emotion and intellect, use of hyperboles, imagery, and expression in dramatic and colloquial tones. 

Q.3. Define a metaphysical wit.

Ans. Wit is a clever and humorous expression but in a metaphysical sense, it is the saying of fine sparkling things which startle and amuse. It is the perception of similarity in dissimilarity. For example, in Donne’s poem “The Sun Rising”, we find a wonderful wit: “She’s all states, and all princes, I Nothing else is”.

1. The Sun Rising

Q.4. What is the theme of the poem “The Sun Rising”?

Ans. “The Sun Rising” is a love-lyric showing the self-sufficient nature of love. The pair of lovers concentrate within themselves all the glory and riches of the outside world. 

Q.5. What is Donne’s view on love in this poem?

Ans. Donne’s view on love in this poem cannot be termed definitely Platonic or sensual, but rather a mixture of both. According to him, love must be based on both body and soul.

Q.6. How can the poet bedim/eclipse/shun the brightness of the sun?

Ans. The poet-lover tells the sun that if he so desires, he can bedim all its brightness by a wink and suggests the possibility of the brightness of his beloved’s eyes having blinded its own. 

Q.7. What does the poet compare his beloved too?

Ans. The poet compares his beloved to the spices found in East Indies and to the valuable metals and stones found in West Indies. She is as fragrant as the spices of the East Indies and as rich and valuable as the gold mines of the West Indies.

Q.8. What does the poet compare his bedroom to and why? 

Ans. The poet compares his bedroom to a world because his beloved and he stands for all the states and princes of the world, and thus the world has been reduced to a pair of lovers lying in their bedroom.

Q.9. How, according to the poet, can the sun by shining in their bedroom, shine the whole world?

Ans. The bed on which the poet and his sweetheart are lying is the whole world to them. So the sun shining in their bedroom only can shine the whole world, because their bedroom is the epitome of the whole world.

Q.10. How has the poet brought a macrocosm into a microcosm?

Ans. According to Donne, the bedroom of the lovers constitutes the center of the Universe and the four walls, the sphere within which the sun revolves (according to the Ptolemic system of cosmology). The poet here has brought the macrocosm into the microcosm.

Q.11. What is the nature of true love? 

Ans. True love is unaffected by time and space. It knows no division of time, like hours, days, months, or seasons which are nothing but scraps of eternity. It rises above the considerations of months and years, countries, and climates.

Q.12. Why does the poet say that love-making has no particular season or time?

Ans. Love, according to the poet, transcends the limitations of time and space. It rises above considerations of hours, days, months, or years. So the poets, whose love is true and perfect, do not want the sun to announce the morning by peeping through the windows and curtains of lovers’ bed rooms.

Q.13. How does the poet rebuke the sun in the poem “The Sun Rising”?

Ans. The poet rebukes the sun for disturbing the lovers in their bedroom. He asks it not to send its rays through the windows and curtains of their bedroom but to go and tell late school boys, apprentices, hunters, and ants that it is dawn. He calls the sun an old fool disturbing their love-making.

Q.14. How does Donne use personification in ‘The Sun Rising”? 

Ans. In “The Sun Rising”, Donne disparagingly personifies the sun as a “busy old fool” who is “unruly” in the face of some authority.

II. A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

Q.15. Why does the poet forbid his beloved to mourn? Or, What is the central theme of the poem?

Ans. The poem, “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” reveals the fact that temporary separation cannot cause a breach of perfect love. Absence extends the domain and expanse of love. That is why mourning is prohibited because love is eternal. 

Q.16. How does the poet urge his wife to allow him to go?

Ans. Donne urges his wife to let him go like virtuous people who die very quietly, being dauntless of death. 

Q.17. What does Donne compare his separation from his beloved to?

Ans. Donne compares his separation from his beloved to the trepidation of the heavenly bodies which remain totally unfelt by the people of the world. So also their parting should be peaceful and harmless. 

Q.18. What is the nature of love between the poet and his beloved?

Ans. The love between the poet and his beloved is spiritual and refined. They are so confident of and faithful to each other’s souls that physical separation does not matter at all to them.

Q.19. What does the poet compare their two souls to?

Ans. The poet compares their two souls, one of himself and the other of his beloved, to the two feet of a compass, which appear to be separate but are in reality united at the top. The beloved who stays at home may be likened to its fixed foot, which does not seem to move, but which moves in reality, if the other foot moves. 

Q.20. What instrument does the poet compare his beloved to and why?

Ans. The poet compares his beloved to the foot of the compass which remains fixed at the center. But it leans and follows the other foot when it moves and grows erect and unites with the moving foot when it returns to the starting point after completing the circle.

Q.21. “Thy firmness makes my circle just”-Explain. Or, How will the two lovers reunite?

Ans. The beloved has the same relation with the lover (the poet) as the fixed foot of the compass has with the moving foot, which moves and draws a circle. It is the firmness of the fixed foot which enables the moving foot to draw the circle correctly. Similarly, it is her love and faithfulness which would enable him to perform his journey successfully and then return home to unite with her.

Q.22. In what sense, Donne’s love is platonic in the poem, “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”? Ans. Donne can claim that his love is platonic when he says that he differs from the sublunary sensual lovers. His love is spiritual and in no way dependent upon bodily attraction.

IV. The Canonization

Q.23. “For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love”- Who does the poet say this to and why?

Ans. Donne says this to some friend of his, who is trying to dissuade him from making love to his beloved. 

Q.24. How does Donne prove/ argue that his love is harmless/ innocent?

Ans. Donne employs several hyperbolical expressions to prove that nobody or nothing is affected by his love-making. He says that his sighs have not drowned any merchant’s ship, his tears, shed out of love, have not flooded any farmer’s land, his colds have never elongated winter and delayed the coming of the Spring, his passion caused by love, has never led to a disease like a plague and thus added to the number of the dead.

Q.25. How does the poet make a defense of /or justify his love-making by citing the examples of soldiers and lawyers? 

Ans. To justify his love-making, the poet says that the fighting instinct of soldiers has not been disturbed in the least nor are the lawyers, busy with litigation, prevented from their practice by his love affair.

Q.26. What do you mean by the expression, “The Phoenix riddle”? 

Ans. The Phoenix is a mythical bird. It is said that only one such bird exists at a time and when its life term of 500 years is over, it burns itself on a burning pyre and then renews itself from its own ashes.

Q.27. What do the dove and the eagle symbolize? Why does the poet compare himself and his beloved to the eagle and the dove?

Ans. The eagle, a bird of prey, symbolizes strength, while the dove stands for peace or gentleness. The poet compares them (himself and his beloved) to the eagle and the dove because both of them are violent and gentle and prey on each other. Donne used these symbols to indicate their carnal desire.

Q.28. How does the poet want themselves to be canonized? Or, How does the poet attain immortality?

Ans. The poet and his beloved are prepared to die for love if they cannot live by love. The tale of their death will form the subject of love poets. Their love will be commemorated in lyrics and sonnets and thus they will attain sainthood or immortality through canonization. 

Q.29. What, according to Donne, would render them sainthood?

Ans. The sonnets written by the followers of the poet and his beloved to commemorate their immortal love story would render them sainthood. 

Q.30. What is the true nature of Donne’s love in “Canonization”?

Ans. Love, according to Donne, must be based on both body and soul. In “Canonization” Donne tries to reach his beloved’s soul through physical love.

Q.31. What is canonization?

Ans. According to Christianity, the term ‘Canonization’ means to proclaim a person to be a saint after his death by canon law, and to be fully honored as such.

VI. Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God

Q.32. Why does the poet compare himself to a usurped town?

Ans. The poet compares himself to a town illegally occupied by Satan. His soul belongs to God but has been taken away by the devil. He is willing to obey God but he cannot do so, because he is under the power of the devil.

Q.33. In what sense is ‘Reason’ God’s Viceroy?

Ans. The reason, according to the poet, is the agent of God but even Reason is unable to oppose the might of the Devil. The poet feels that his sense of reason has been enslaved by the material world of temptation. man,

Q.34. What prayer does Donne make to God?

Ans. Donne prays to God (the lover) to save him (The mistress) from the clutches of Satan (adversary of God) and to free him from all wickedness. He asks God to use force and separate him from the devil to whom he is betrothed.

Q.35. How will Donne achieve real freedom?

Ans. Donne thinks that now he is enslaved by Satan and God alone can rescue him by severing his connection with evil. The poet can achieve real freedom if God imprisons him or takes total possession of him.

Q.36. Why does the poet want to be ravished by God?

Ans. In order to become chaste, the poet (beloved) wants to be ravished by God (lover). Being ravished means losing one’s chastity but the poet means that only if God takes forcible possession of him, then he may be rid of his sinfulness.10

Q.37. What does ‘Three Personed God’ refer to in “Batter My Heart”?

Ans. ‘Three Personed God’ refers to the Divine Spirit manifesting itself in three persons – God, the Father; God, the Son; and the Holy Ghost. This is the doctrine of the trinity which means the union of three persons – God, the son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Ghost-in one God-head.

VII. Death Be Not Proud

Q.38. What is the popular idea about death?

Ans. The popular idea about death is that it is a very terrifying and mighty power of destruction. It can kill anybody at any time. 

Q.39. How does Donne discard the popular notion about death as a dreadful power?

Ans. According to Donne, death is not dreadful, for those whom death is supposed to kill, are not killed in reality. They do not die; they only sleep a long and peaceful sleep.

Q.40. In what sense does death resemble rest and sleep? 

Ans. Rest and sleep resemble death. Just as sleep refreshes and invigorates the human mind, so also death provides more comfort and pleasure to the soul.

Q.41. What is the meaning of the soul’s delivery? 

Ans. It is only through death that the soul of a man can be freed from the prison of his body and thus attains eternal rest. WALO

Q.42. How can opium and other drugs induce better sleep than death can?

Ans. Death certainly brings about sleep, but opium preparations or similar other intoxications or drugs, supposed to have magical properties, can induce better sleep with a far gentler and painless operation.

Q.43. How is death conquered?

Or, How will death die? Or, What is the poet’s idea about the immortality of the soul?

Ans. Death can cause only a temporary sleep in the grave and then people wake up to eternal life. In fact, death does not kill human beings; it is death itself that dies. Thus, the immortality of the soul is achieved by conquering death.

Q.44. How does the poet refute the pride of death?

Ans. The poet says that there is no reason at all for death to be the mood of power. It can induce only a temporary sleep after which we shall live eternally in Heaven.

Q.45 Why does Donne advise Death not to be proud? 

Ans. The poet says that Death can induce only a temporary sleep after which we shall live eternally in Heaven. So Donne advises Death not to be proud.

Q.46. What is a metaphysical conceit?

Ans. A metaphysical conceit is basically a simile or a comparison between two dissimilar things, or two most heterogeneous ideas. This kind of comparison is highly exaggerated, fantastic, and far-fetched, and it gives rise to an image.

Q.47. What does ‘The Phoenix’ symbolize? 

Ans. The Phoenix symbolizes the immortality of the love of the poet and his beloved.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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