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'Explore the Nature of Love in The Extasie': John Donne Poetry Analysis

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Introduction

´╗┐Explore the Nature of Love in The Extasie: John Donne Poetry Analysis In his poem, The Extasie, John Donne describes his own attainment of a state of ecstasy (literally meaning, to stand outside of oneself), through his physical and spiritual proximity to his lover. In his earliest work (for example Elegie: To his Mistris Going to Bed, and The Flea) - which could be loosely termed his 'lust poetry' - Donne's focus tends to be on (or at least around) the sexual act and the beauty of the human (and more particularly the feminine) form, whilst in his later work (such as his Holy Sonnets) he explores religion and death, this poem falls into the transitory phase of what could be termed Donne's 'love poetry' (for example, The Good Morrow). Characteristically then, the main focus of The Extasie is his love for a specific woman (as opposed to women in general, or rather, any random woman - as is the case in his lust poems), and how this love is so transcendent that it leads to a platonic extasie. ...read more.

Middle

The line '(all which before was poore, and scant,) Redoubles still, and multiplies', goes on to suggest the idea that the souls reinforce each other's weaknesses, whilst the line, 'That abler soule, which thence doth flow, Defects of loneliness controulles', continues this concept, showing the perfection of the 'abler soul', by highlighting the absence of any defects, even one such as loneliness, which are innate human response to certain situations. This leads on to the idea that the defect of mortality is also absent, and that the union is eternal - as evident in the line 'For, th'Atomies of which we grow, Are soules, whom no change can invade'. These ideas all derive from the Plato's concept of the Forms, in which it is theorised that for every material thing, a perfect form of it exists, of which the material form is merely a pale shadow or imitation. For Donne, it is the transcendence and perfection of the love between himself and the woman, that leads to their transition to a higher state (their Extasie is 'by love refin'd'). ...read more.

Conclusion

However, as Donne does go on to admit, 'We owe them thankes', as the initial physical intimacy was, 'all our meanes to make us one', and without 'their forces, sense to us', the union of their souls through their love, would never have occurred. Essentially then, Donne sets up the idea that in fact the body has its own intrinsic value upon which the soul is dependent, whilst going to describe that in fact, the body, which in spite of trying to 'beget Spirits, as like soules as it can', in order to govern itself, begins to fail without the presence of the soul ('That subtile knot, which makes us man'. Essentially then, the conclusion would appear to be that body and soul are interdependent, and whilst it is clear that Donne ultimately values spiritual love over bodily love (perceiving the body as a 'prison', in which 'a great Prince?lies'), he accepts the one's reliance on the other, as after his experience of Extasie, he realises that in fact it matters little, as there is, 'Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.' ...read more.

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