AD's English Literature : John Donne's "The Canonization" : Love Non-peril

Sunday, April 29, 2012

John Donne's "The Canonization" : Love Non-peril

"For God's sake hold your tongue and let me love."

Even more than Petrarch and Spenser, John Donne is a poet of Love. The poem, The Canonization embodies all those qualities which make Donne’s poetry of love non-peril. Although he conceives of love as one of the most invigorating and vigorous aspects of life and sometimes even raises it to the position of supreme importance’ his is no mere echo of the Petrarchian love –worship of the beloved. On the other hand  The Canonization, is a mire situation of love . Donne is at once physical and spiritual, for he does not separate the two into exclusive categories. Farther, The Canonization, also speaks of love not in the deliquescing and meting rhythm of the poets of yore but in the vigorous and colloquially dramatic tone that is possible only to Donne. The poem unites the abstract and the near, sublime with the commonplace.
 

The poem begins dramatically with a statement which almost prevail a shock to the complacent reader. Expecting with a mellifluous beginning : “FOR God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love” ;The poet is distressed of by the fact that a person has objected to the speaker’s love affair ,The person who criticizes the poet ‘s love represents  the practical world which regards love as a trivial assize in man’s life and no more than a frittering away of time .The poet ‘answer' is that even if the external world considers Love to be a disease it should  restrict itself to the outer infirmities like ‘palsy’, approaching old age and the poet’s ironical forties .The unknown speaker might cure these ,but he would certainly fill in poring the poet of this particular obsession . Farther the poet mockingly entreats the other person to look to his own welfare by pursuing wealth and honor for himself .Disgusted, the poet detests him to log him alone with his love. 
The next stanza is a catalogue of the conflict between the real world and the world of love . The trails of love dominates: “What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?/ Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?” The poet continues in this vein saying that the colds engendered by the constant weeping of loves does not prevent the world from moving forward and that the parlous heat which is so natural love does not add to the epidemic of plague . It is only noteworthy that many of images are conventional and belong to the Petrarchian tradition. Indeed, the poet himself might be ridiculing the hyperbolic and therefore unreal figures and metaphors used by poet like Petrarch reinvested. Yet Donne also emphasizes at the same time that these exaggerated versions do not harm to the external world and that the practical friend need not have any fear for we will still be able to indulge in warfare and lawsuits:
"Alas ! alas ! who's injured by my love?
    What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?
    Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
        When did the heats which my veins fill
        Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
    Litigious men, which quarrels move,
    Though she and I do love.
"
John Donne
Somewhat in a daft of raillery, Donne addicts his own metaphors and hyperboles .Sincerity rings through his axe of the metaphors for he also makes the  simple declaration that ‘we are made such by love .’ Donne’s is a compendium of a series of opposing images .The lovers air flies ,for they keep flying around each tapers, the fires to which this flies are inescapably attracted only to perish .The axe of the word ‘died’ is not only a synonym for death ,for it has also been aced as a pan in the sanitarian customary sense of the sexual consummation of love .On the other hand, the word ‘taper’ adds another diminution: the love errs as fervent and as bright as a flame .The opposing groups of words gain dissipated symbol of peace and amity .The two lovers together unifies as the phoenix ,the myth - Egyptian bird of riddle ,a bird which barns itself only to find new vigor and new yowl: we die and rise the same and prove mystic riots by his love.        

Although the comparison to the phoenix seems outlandish; it is the fantastic and calmative image which best describes lovers unification and their emancipation. The phoenix is not two but one and the lovers are fused into this unity. Further, it burns not like the taper at its own cost but live again. Its' death is life. There love does not end with the mere satisfaction of sexual love. But it becomes regenerated with it. The tone of ridicule has been gradually discarded and the poet now proceeds in all seriousness to compare love to the most sublime aspects of life. He is aware that even if his love is unfit for the magnifying scene of tombs his tale will be fit at least to be celebrated in sonnets. Further, the well wrought urn which can become the container for the ass of the greatest of kings, is in no way inferior to the “half-acre tombs”. Indeed, the grossness of the half-acre tombs has been contrasted with the exquisiteness of the urn.
The poet has already declared the lovers are canonized for love and this concept finds its consummation in the final stanza. The poet speaks of amorous love in terms of the divinity for love which is almost a temple:
"You, whom reverend love
    Made one another's hermitage …”
Such love does not share the fever and the fret of mortal love, but partakes of ‘place’ which is the blessing of divine. The lover becomes the epitome of the entire world, for instead of being a part of the world, the lovers include the entire world in their love. In the process of love they become the abiding pattern of love.


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