John Donne: Poems

A Practical Criticism of John Donne's "Song" and "Go and Catch a Falling Star..."

This poem chiefly concerns the lack of constancy in women. The tone taken is one of gentle cynicism, and mocking. Donne asks the reader to do the impossible, which he compares with finding a constant woman, thus insinuating that such a woman does not exist. The title, "Song", leads us to expect certain things: a lyrical element to the words, and a musical rhythm, which are fulfilled by this neatly crafted poem. It is also very ambiguous, not hinting at the subject matter of the poem. The stanzas are slightly longer than might be expected, nine lines each, but this allows for the more complex and abstract ideas, which are archetypal of metaphysical poetry. The first stanza is the most forceful, employing the imperative to achieve a sense of command, and implying that he is talking to one specific person. The second stanza begins conditionally, "if", and continues to be directed towards the apparent listener by the repeated use of the second person singular, "thou". Both are heavy in exotic imagery, which the final stanza is completely devoid of, and the final stanza also takes on a far more conversational, monosyllabic tone.

The first sentence is a command: "Go and catch a falling star",...

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