'The Expiration' by John Donne
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So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,Which sucks two souls, and vapors both away,
Turn thou ghost that way, and let me turn this,And let our selves benight our happiest day,
We ask none leave to love; nor will we oweAny, so cheap a death, as saying, Go;
Go; and if that word have not quite kil'd thee,Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.
Oh, if it have, let my word work on me,And a just office on a murderer do.
Except it be too late, to kill me so,Being double dead, going, and bidding, go.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Expiration by John Donne: A Masterpiece of Metaphysical Poetry
Are you looking for a poem that captures the essence of love, death, and spirituality in a concise yet profound manner? Look no further than "The Expiration" by John Donne. This 17th-century poem is a quintessential example of metaphysical poetry, a genre that blends philosophical and spiritual themes with vivid imagery and complex metaphors.
At first glance, "The Expiration" may seem like a bleak meditation on mortality and the transience of human existence. Indeed, the title itself suggests a sense of finality and closure. However, upon closer examination, the poem reveals a deeper message about the nature of love and the possibility of transcending death.
Form and Structure
Before delving into the meaning of the poem, let's take a moment to appreciate its form and structure. Like many metaphysical poems, "The Expiration" follows a complex rhyme scheme and uses enjambment to create a sense of continuity and fluidity.
The poem consists of three stanzas, each containing six lines. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines, while the fifth and sixth lines rhyme with each other. This interlocking rhyme scheme gives the poem a musical quality, as if the words are dancing to their own rhythm.
Furthermore, Donne employs a range of poetic devices to create a sense of depth and complexity. For example, he uses alliteration and assonance to create a sense of harmony and repetition. In the first stanza, for instance, he writes:
So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,
Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away,
Turn thou ghost that way, and let me turn this,
And let ourselves benight our happiest day;
We ask none leave to love; nor will we owe
Any, so cheap a death, as saying, "Go."
Note how the repeated "s" sounds in "sucks two souls" and "saying, 'Go'" create a sense of hissing and whispering, as if the words are slipping away like the souls themselves.
Themes and Meanings
Now, let's explore the themes and meanings of the poem. At its core, "The Expiration" is a meditation on love and death, and the ways in which they intersect and diverge. The poem begins with the speaker urging his beloved to "break off this last lamenting kiss" and let their souls "benight our happiest day." This suggests that they are on the brink of death, and that their love has reached its final stage.
However, the speaker goes on to say that they "ask none leave to love" and that they will not "owe any, so cheap a death, as saying, 'Go.'" This suggests that their love is not limited by mortality, and that they are willing to transcend death in order to remain together.
In fact, the poem suggests that love itself is a form of transcendence, a way of escaping the limitations of the physical world. The second stanza describes how the lovers "meet and mingle" in "the other world," where they become "one." This suggests that their love has a spiritual dimension, and that it is not bound by the constraints of time and space.
The final stanza, however, takes a darker turn, as the speaker reflects on the inevitability of death and the uncertainty of what lies beyond. He wonders if they will be reunited in heaven, or if they will be "lost in darknesse." This suggests that even the most transcendent forms of love are subject to the whims of fate, and that death is the ultimate equalizer.
Analysis and Interpretation
So, what can we take away from this poem? On one level, "The Expiration" is a poignant meditation on the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. The poem acknowledges the pain and sorrow that come with loss, but also suggests that there is a way to transcend death through love.
However, on a deeper level, the poem is a testament to the power of spiritual love and the possibility of redemption. The speaker suggests that love is not limited by the physical world, but can extend into the afterlife and beyond. This suggests that there is a spiritual dimension to human existence that transcends death and suffering.
Moreover, the poem suggests that love itself is a form of spiritual practice, a way of connecting with the divine and overcoming the limitations of the ego. By surrendering to love, the speaker suggests, we can transcend the boundaries of the self and connect with something greater than ourselves.
In conclusion, "The Expiration" is a masterpiece of metaphysical poetry that explores the themes of love, death, and spirituality with grace and profundity. Through its complex imagery and interlocking rhyme scheme, the poem suggests that love is a way of transcending death and connecting with the divine. It reminds us that even in the face of mortality, there is a way to find meaning and purpose in life, and to transcend the limitations of the ego. Indeed, it is a poem that speaks to the enduring power of human love, and the possibility of redemption even in the darkest of times.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Expiration by John Donne is a classic poem that explores the theme of death and the inevitability of our mortality. This poem is a perfect example of Donne's metaphysical style, which is characterized by its use of complex metaphors and philosophical ideas.
The poem is structured in three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or metrical feet, with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Donne begins by stating that death is not something to be feared, but rather something that should be embraced. He uses the metaphor of a sleep to describe death, saying that it is a "little sleep" that we must all take before we wake up to eternal life. This metaphor is significant because it suggests that death is not an end, but rather a transition to a new state of being.
In the second stanza, Donne continues to explore the theme of death, but this time he uses the metaphor of a journey. He says that death is like a journey that we must all take, and that it is a journey that we cannot avoid. He also suggests that death is not something that happens to us, but rather something that we do ourselves. This idea is significant because it suggests that we have some control over our own mortality, and that we can choose how we approach death.
The third and final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. Donne uses the metaphor of a lover to describe his relationship with death. He says that he is in love with death, and that he longs to be united with it. This metaphor is significant because it suggests that death is not something to be feared or avoided, but rather something to be embraced and celebrated.
Overall, The Expiration is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the theme of death in a unique and philosophical way. Donne's use of complex metaphors and philosophical ideas makes this poem a classic example of metaphysical poetry, and his message that death is not something to be feared, but rather something to be embraced, is as relevant today as it was when the poem was first written.
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