John Donne 21 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet, preacher and a

major representative of the metaphysical poets of the period.
His works are notable for their realistic and sensual style and include sonnets, love
poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies,
songs, satires and sermons.
His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor,
especially as compared to that of his contemporaries.
Donne is considered a master of the metaphysical conceit, an extended metaphor that
combines two vastly different ideas into a single idea, often using imagery.
Donne's works are also witty, employing paradoxes, puns, and subtle yet
remarkable analogies.
His pieces are often ironic and cynical, especially regarding love and human motives.
Common subjects of Donne's poems are love (especially in his early life), death
(especially after his wife's death), and religion.
The Extasie is one of Donne's best known and most important love poems. The word
„ecstasy‟ means a very heightened experience so that you feel almost out-of-body,
Donne describes fully the ecstatic state he experienced through true love.
In the first place, the ecstasy has been a union of souls, not of bodies. In the
prescribed poem, the souls of the two lovers free themselves from the definite
confines of the physical construct of the body and become one physically and
spiritually in an ecstatic union of souls.
The first stanza portrays the two as sitting on an elevated area like a hill, or probably
the bank of a river. The violet is set to rest upon this „elevation‟ as if a pillow on a
bed. The violet is emblematic of faithful love. The lovers that were each other‟s best
companion sat in serenity.
From the tight hand clasp their hands sweat, but the speaker asserts that it acts as a
fast balm that cements the two. They are so close to each other that their eyes are
held together superfocussed („twisted eyebeams‟).Furthermore, it may also signify
that they are sitting so close to one another, that they can see only one eye in the
affixed stare.
Here, „grafting‟ pertains to its technical meaning as well. As their hands were
engrafted to meet, so did their bodies eventually. They meeting was destined thus
physically and spiritually. At the current moment, they were engrossed in the
pictures on each other‟s eyes. The picture of the eye is a symbol of their union, in
that the eye is filled with love for the beloved, and at the same time reflection of the
beloved.(the eyeball image of the other.)The pictures in their eyes may also signify
dreams for the future especially in the form of „children‟ that the word „propagation‟
The souls are pictured as two armies set out to battle against each other. It has been
common among celebrated writers to utilize epic protocol and similes to emblematize
the confrontation of two opposing forces. However, here there is no triumph of one
force over the other, and hence the term “equal armies”.
Petrarchan poets also sometimes depicted the debates between souls. As the souls
asserted themselves, the bodies lay motionless. As the souls negotiated with each
other, the two lay in peace .Their bodies were like sepulchral statues that lay still.
The word „sepulchral‟ also implies „funereal‟. The speaker implies their spirit was
above and divorced from worldly concerns. Their postures were static, they did not
exhibit any body (worldly) language. Their silence spoke volumes. Therefore, the
union here is something above sexual.
Only the person refined through true love could comprehend the soul‟s language,
The line also implies that if a person understood the soul‟s language, it meant that he
was purified And through good love rendered the „growing all minds‟-enabled the
maturing of minds. It could overcome barriers or distances.
The speaker states that it was indeed difficult to decipher which soul spoke for both
spoke the same language and meant the same. „Concoction‟ refers to the refining of
metals by heat. They are much refined than when they came into this world. Their
purity in this regard is even above that of babies who are a step closer to God.
The ecstasy has thereby purified them .It has enlightened them on what was hitherto
unknown to them. The true nature of love does not verge on sexual intimacy. They
saw (realized) without seeing, or apprehending though the sensory organs of
perception. God is generally called “The Unmoved Mover”; and therefore their love
was a faint reflection of this aspect of his.
The poet here discusses the „alchemy‟ of love.Of the singular property of love that
enables it to unite disparate elements that souls constitute.Love has the unique
proprety of trsforming and transmuting the nature of souls-amalgamting them (as
metals) into a unified whole.The words „this‟ and „that‟ is the distinction between the
two souls that unconditional love erases.
As a violet gets transplanted, it creates a new plant, that holds the properties of both
the plants, and replenishes each other with their uncommon nutrients, Likewise, as
the two plants are transplanted together, the new breed is powerful, as it combines
the quality of both the souls, as a hybrid of their goodness.
Thus, as love animates two souls-their mutual communion constitutes the abler soul
.Though it is single in its unity it is not lonely or in solitude. It is an emblem of
perfection and free of defects.
This new soul is exempted from change that is normally inevitable. They are
composed of elemts that only grow in nature and stature; and change cannot be
tarnished with the ravage of time.
The poet ponders upon why their bodies have been relegated. The speaker‟s
arguments are based on medieval or Aristotelian Cosmology according to which an
astral body is composed of a sphere and intelligence that controls the sphere. Neither
possesses force without the other. The bodies and the souls are likewise
interdependent as the bodies are the soul‟s earthly reflection.
It also points to the fact that bodily emotions that are a by-product of love cannot be
deemed insignificant. The lovers would not be able to feel and apprehend each other
if it were not for the body. The body is not the scum or the material of sedimentary
nature that occurs in the extraction of metals. Rather, they are like alloys, a super-
addictive to metals that render them more durable over time. Likewise the presence
of bodies would make love a more enduring reality. Note that Petrarchan love wins
over Platonic love here.
The Cosmic forces of Nature influence the people on earth, only after it first
influences the atmosphere. Likewise, spiritual forces require working themselves
through a less refined medium. In their case the union of their bodies, may act as the
medium for the spiritual love to work itself through The nervous system of man is
not by itself a homogenous unit; it cannot remain autonomously intact. Rather, it
requires the „vapour‟ or spirits‟ born of the thinner part of blood that will assign
unity or integrate the nervous system as a whole.
Similarly, love remains inadequate as it refrains from seeking bodily intervention
and the physical faculties to aid the same. Therefore they must give in to bodily
emotions for the consummation of their love, lest the emotion of Love becomes
impotent. “Else a great prince in prison lies.” This may refer to the soul imprisoned
in a prison, and also may also denote that due to lack of procreation there will be no
succession to the throne.
Satisfaction can be discovered in the union of the spirit and body. The body is
supposed to be the Book of Love, where the mysteries of love are inscribed. As love
grows in the soul, its ultimate fulfillment may be found in the body. Just as
disbelievers of religion require some physical miracle before they believe, people
weak in their faith of love should resort to physical revelation before the truly
surrender to love.
A person who has truly experienced the feeling of love will comprehend how little the
nature of their love has altered as the souls have returned to their earthly bodies.
Therefore, the state of ecstasy can be realized within one‟s body itself. It does not
require the soul‟s moving out from the body.

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