A commentary on a classic Donne poem by Dr Oliver Tearle
‘For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love’: such an opening line demonstrates with refreshing directness John Donne’s genius for grabbing our attention right from the first line of a poem. ‘The Canonization’ is a difficult poem, but closer analysis of its language and imagery is rewarding.
For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
Or chide my palsy, or my gout,
My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout,
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his honour, or his grace,
Or the king’s real, or his stampèd face
Contemplate; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.
Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?
What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?
Who says my tears have overflowed his ground?
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