Poem analysis by: Rachel“LOVE’S DEITY” Fulton By: John Donne
STANZA 1“I long to talk with some old lover’s ghost Who died before the god of love was born.I cannot think that he who then loved most Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn.But since this god produced a destiny, 5And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be, I must love her that loves not me.”Summary: The speaker wants to talk to someone who has lovedbefore the god of love Cupid was born. He cannot understandwhy the lover would love someone that did not love him back.The speaker is upset that it is now the norm to love someonewho does not feel the same way.
STANZA 2“Sure, they which made him god meant not so much, Nor he in his young godhead practiced it.But when an even flame two hearts did touch, 10 His of fice was indulgently to fitActives to passives. CorrespondencyOnly his subject was. It cannot be Love till I love her that loves me.”Summary: Cupid formerly represented mutual love. The peoplenor Cupid meant to turn love into what it has become - thepursuit of the unattainable. The speaker professes that hedisagrees with this kind of love and that mutual love is the onlylove.
STANZA 3“But every modern god will now extend 15 His vast prerogative as far as Jove.To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend, All is the purlieu of the god of love.Oh, were we wakened by this tyrannyTo ungod this child again, it could not be 20 I should love her, who loves not me .Summar y: The speaker emphasizes that all the modern gods oftoday are trying to influence as many people as Jove, the king ofthe Roman gods, had power over. These modern gods could belove’s disguises such as lust or use. The speaker does not wantthis convoluted view of love to come back and again advocates theimpossibility of love that is not mutual.
STANZA 4“Rebel and atheist too, why murmur I, As though I felt the worst that Love could do?Love might make me leave loving, or might try A deeper plague, to make her love me too, 25Which, since she loves before, I am loath to see.Falsehood is worse than hate, and that must be, If she whom I love should love me.”Summar y: The speaker claims that Love could do two even worsethings to him: Let the love die between he and his lover becausethe love is not mutual or make the lover love him back even thoughthe feelings are not sincere. The speaker believes that this wouldbe worse than to have him hate his lover. He ultimately decidesthat true love is the ideal yet acknowledges that loving someonewho does not love back happened whether he wanted it or not.
ANNOTATION Mythology imagery: “god of love” (l.2,18) “god” (l.5,8) “godhead” (l.9) “modern god” (l.15) “Jove” (l.16) “ungod” (l.20) Uses this imagery to emphasize his powerlessness The “gods” are controlling and facilitating this distorted view of love that the ideal is to pursue someone that is unattainable Figuratively- the “gods” could symbolize false perceptions of love like lust or use Mentions Jove who was the king of the Roman gods to demonstrate the far-reaching power that the new view of love has gained
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Angry/melancholy diction: “died” (l.2) “sunk so low” (l.4) “scorn” (l.4) “vice-nature” (l.6) “to rage, to lust” (l.17) “tyranny” (l.19) “rebel and atheist” (l.22) “deeper plague” (l.25) “hate” (l.27) Purpose is to underscore the speaker’s unhappiness that love is no longer viewed as mutual love but that the ideal is chasing the unattainable Interesting that there is no blatant melancholy diction in Stanza 2 when he talks about mutual love thus reiterating his advocacy for mutual love
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Inverted sentence structure: “Correspondency/ Only his subject was” (ll.12-13) “why murmur I/ As though I felt the worst that Love could do?” (ll.22 - 23) Backwardness of the lines could mirror the backward view of love that love’s goal is not to be mutual, but rather its goal is to drive one lover to chase the unattainable
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Repetition: Repeats final line of each stanza in a slightly altered way Precedes each final line with an assertion with a being verb “lets it be” (l.6) “It cannot be” (l.13) “It could not be” (l.20) “that must be” (l.27) He asserts a slightly different idea each time he repeats these lines These differences reflect his progression in admitting that loving someone who does not love back is possible and can be true
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Repetition (cont.) Last lines of Stanza 1: “And that vice-nature, custom, lets it be,/ I must love her that loves not me” (ll.6 -7) Stresses that this new way of viewing love makes him love someone that does not love him back Last lines of Stanza 2: “It cannot be./ Love till I love her that loves not me” (ll.13 -14) Suggests that it is impossible to have any other love but mutual love Last lines of Stanza 3: “To ungod this child again, it could not be,/ I should love her who loves not me” (ll.20-21) Expresses his disappointment in his growing realization that mutual love is a far - gone concept Last lines of Stanza 4: “Falsehood is worse than hate, and that must be/ If she whom I love should love me” (ll.27-28) Cedes to the fact that love of the unattainable is a form of true love as well and that he has engaged in it
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Contrasts: “Correspondency” (l.12) vs. “Tyranny” (l.19) Harmony vs. Oppression Donne uses Donne uses “tyranny” to “correspondency” to describe loving the describe mutual love unattainable Demonstrates his belief Demonstrates his that mutual love is good disliking for this new kind by depicting it in a of love by depicting it in a positive, harmonious light negative, oppressive light Emphasizes that by Emphasizes that by having mutual love, one having love that is not can attain peace and mutual, one will happiness experience cruelty
ANNOTATION (CONT.) Theme: Ambivalence Donne asserts one idea, then either doubts it or contradicts it “I cannot think that he who then loved most/ Sunk so low as to one which did scorn” (ll.3-4) “Falsehood is worse than hate, and that must be/ If she whom I love should love me” (ll.27-28) In first stanza, he condemns loving someone that does not love back In the last stanza, he admits that he has done so and he would rather it be that way then to have her falsely love him His contradictions suggest that he may truly believe in mutual love, but has found that the alternate view of love has crossed his path Therefore, he does not want to admit it but he falls into the same trap as the “old lover’s ghost” who died loving someone that did not love him back (l.1)
EVALUATION Three questions to consider: 1. What was its central purpose? 2. How fully has this purpose been accomplished? 3. How important is this purpose? 1. Central purpose of “Love’s Deity” – to differentiate between mutual love and loving the unattainable To persuade readers that mutual love is better because it represents harmony and that love that is not mutual is cruel and oppressive 2. Fully accomplished? Yes. He uses effective organization. Each stanza represents a slightly different thought. Indenting the last lines of each stanza draws the readers attention to his progression in accepting love of the unattainable His diction is carefully selected to persuade us to love mutually or to dissuade us from loving someone that does not love back
EVALUATION (CONT.) 3. Important? Very. Love is universal to humankind Love is what makes people happy and what causes people to be sad The joys and sorrows of love unite humans His experience with love is not only important to him, but can serve readers in two ways: 1. If readers have experienced a similar feeling of loving someone that does not love back, this poem allows them to relate to Donne and realize they are not alone. 2. It provides readers with a wake-up call to rethink what they consider love to be and decide whether or not they want to find someone who loves mutually, or chase the unattainable.
EVALUATION (CONT.) Is it excellent? Yes: Though Donne’s poem is sad in that he loves someone that does not love him back, the poem is by no means tear -jerking. Therefore: it is not SENTIMENTAL. He does not use grandiose language that takes away from the beauty of the poem itself. He uses straightforward language and gets to his point. Therefore: it is not RHETORICAL. Though he holds the belief that love should be mutual, he does not force this idea on readers. He explains why he thinks so, but does not make his poem a lesson for readers. Instead, it is more a reflection of his internal mindset. Therefore: it is not DIDACTIC.
EVALUATION (CONT.) “If I read a book and it Donne’s poem moves makes my whole body readers to empathy. After so cold no fire can reading the last line, I felt warm me, I know that as if my heart had been left is poetry. If I feel loving. physically as if the top In reading the second of my head were taken stanza, I found myself off, I know that is smiling as I pictured two poetry. These are the lovers huddled around a only ways I know it. Is small, but warm candle there any other way?” flame. – Emily Dickinson
EVALUATION (CONT.) “If I read a book and it I felt myself connecting makes my whole body on an emotional level so cold no fire can because of his choice to speak in the first person. warm me, I know that In reading aloud, I felt as is poetry. If I feel if I was the only physically as if the top experiencing this love of my head were taken dilemma. off, I know that is His choice of words like poetry. These are the “tyranny” caused me to feel betrayed and only ways I know it. Is oppressed. Thus, his there any other way?” diction made me feel as – Emily Dickinson if I were a part of the poem.
EVALUATION (CONT.) In her quote, it is obvious that Dickinson believed that poetry should leave a permanent and dramatic impact. Donne’s poem leaves a permanent impact in that experiencing love is permanent in society Generations before us and generations after us have experienced and will experience these two forms of love . Therefore, his message is one of permanence in that mutual love is what one should strive for, yet sometimes one cannot help loving someone who does not love him or her back. His poem leaves a dramatic impact in that readers can empathize with him It also may stir something inside of us to turn inward and think about the distorted views our society today views love just as he did.
Conclusion Overall, I vow that this poem is great. It has achieved its purpose, has caused readers to re-evaluate their views of love, THANK and has left them feeling as if they were YOU! the lover in the poem. His conversation with himself relates to conversations we may have with ourselves when stuck in a problematic situation. His poem is not four stanzas arguing why mutual love is the only love. Instead, each stanza represents his fluctuating attitude towards the views of love. This ambivalence and soul-searching relates to us readers because as we mature and grow, our ideas change.