John Donne: Poems

Inconvenience to Indifference in "Love's Diet"

The speaker in John Donne’s poem “Love’s Diet” distances himself from his current relationship as his attitude towards love shifts from inconvenience to indifference with intermediary steps of defensive attacks. The speaker Donne presents does not have complete control over his emotions, and even shows subtle signs of fear at emotions like rejection. The lack of control, however, leads to feelings of annoyance because the speaker has become so consumed by love that he no longer has the ability to concentrate on other activities. The speaker then begins to distance himself from his lover by metaphorically placing his love on a diet in order to attain a state of indifference towards love and avoid the pain of rejection at the hands of an unfaithful mistress.

Giving no indication of the reason for his annoyance with love, the speaker still clearly establishes his emotions. In the opening lines of the poem, he uses verbose language to describe love as “a cumbersome unwieldiness / And burdenous corpulence” (Donne 104, 1-2) to indicate that the relationship has become troublesome for him. In the following lines the speaker sees a need to lessen his love “and keep it in proportion” (Donne 104, 4), suggesting that corpulent love...

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