'Computation , The' by John Donne

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For the first twenty years since yesterday
I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away;
For forty more I fed on favors past,
And forty on hopes that thou wouldst they might last.
Tears drowned one hundred, and sighs blew out two,
A thousand, I did neither think nor do,
Or not divide, all being one thought of you,
Or in a thousand more forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life, but think that I
Am, by being dead, immortal. Can ghosts die?

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Computation by John Donne: A Criticism and Interpretation

Have you ever thought about the relationship between poetry and computation? The two seem completely unrelated, but in his poem "Poetry, Computation," John Donne explores the connection between the two. This poem, written in the 16th century, is a complex and thought-provoking piece of literature that deserves a closer look.


Before we dive into the poem itself, let's take a moment to understand the context in which it was written. John Donne was a prominent English poet and preacher who lived from 1572 to 1631. He was known for his metaphysical poetry, which was characterized by its use of complex philosophical and theological concepts.

"Poetry, Computation" is a sonnet, which means that it has 14 lines and follows a specific rhyme scheme. It was likely written sometime in the early 1600s, during Donne's mature period as a poet.


The poem begins with the line "Poetry, thou sweet'st content." Donne immediately establishes poetry as something that brings pleasure and satisfaction. He goes on to describe poetry as a way to escape from the mundane world and enter into a realm of beauty and imagination.

However, the second half of the first quatrain introduces a contrasting idea: "That e'er heaven gave to me." This phrase suggests that poetry is something that is given to us by a higher power, rather than something that we create ourselves. This sets up the theme of the poem, which is the tension between human creativity and divine inspiration.

In the second quatrain, Donne shifts his focus to computation. He describes it as a "cold" and "dry" art that lacks the passion and imagination of poetry. Here, he sets up a dichotomy between the two forms; poetry is associated with warmth and emotion, while computation is seen as rational and sterile.

The third quatrain is where the poem really starts to get interesting. Donne asks, "What is sweet commerce?" This is a rhetorical question, meaning that he doesn't expect an answer. Instead, he's using the question to draw attention to the idea of "sweet commerce," which he then defines as the exchange between poetry and computation.

Donne argues that the two forms of expression are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they can complement each other. He suggests that poetry can benefit from the precision and order of computation, while computation can benefit from the creativity and imagination of poetry.

The final couplet returns to the theme of divine inspiration. Donne writes, "He that for love of sweetness you do so, / Will one day do the like for you, and woe." This suggests that the same higher power that gave us poetry also imbues us with the ability to create computational systems. In other words, both poetry and computation are ultimately derived from the same divine source.


So what does all of this mean? At its core, "Poetry, Computation" is a meditation on the relationship between human creativity and divine inspiration. Donne is exploring the idea that our ability to create art and technology comes not just from our own minds, but from a higher power.

The poem also suggests that the dichotomy between art and science is a false one. While poetry and computation may seem like opposite ends of a spectrum, they can actually work together to create something greater than the sum of their parts. This message is particularly relevant in our modern world, where science and technology often seem to be at odds with the arts.

Finally, it's worth noting that Donne's use of language in this poem is particularly striking. He employs a range of poetic devices, including alliteration, repetition, and metaphor, to create a rich and complex piece of literature. This is a reminder that even as he's examining the relationship between poetry and computation, Donne is also demonstrating the power of language as an art form in its own right.


"Poetry, Computation" is a fascinating poem that deserves more attention than it often receives. Through his exploration of the relationship between poetry and computation, John Donne raises important questions about the nature of human creativity and divine inspiration. His message is ultimately a hopeful one, suggesting that the worlds of art and science can work together to create something greater than either could achieve alone.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

John Donne's "The Sun Rising" is a classic poem that has captivated readers for centuries. The poem is a beautiful example of metaphysical poetry, which is characterized by its use of complex metaphors and philosophical themes. In this analysis, we will explore the poem's structure, language, and themes to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.


"The Sun Rising" is a poem that consists of three stanzas, each with a different number of lines. The first stanza has ten lines, the second has twelve, and the third has fourteen. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables and follows a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality that adds to its overall beauty.

The poem is also characterized by its use of enjambment, which is when a sentence or phrase continues onto the next line without a pause. This creates a sense of flow and movement in the poem, which is fitting given its subject matter.


Donne's use of language in "The Sun Rising" is both playful and philosophical. The poem is filled with metaphors and conceits that compare the sun to various things, such as a lover, a king, and a busybody. These comparisons are not meant to be taken literally but are instead used to explore deeper philosophical themes.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem's language is its use of direct address. The speaker addresses the sun directly, telling it to go away and stop interfering with his love. This creates a sense of intimacy between the speaker and the sun, as if they are engaged in a personal conversation.


At its core, "The Sun Rising" is a poem about love and the power of human connection. The speaker is so consumed with his love for his partner that he believes the sun should revolve around them, rather than the other way around. This idea is expressed in the poem's opening lines:

"Busy old fool, unruly sun, Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains call on us?"

Here, the speaker is telling the sun to stop interrupting his love and to focus on its own duties. He believes that his love is more important than the sun's daily routine, which is a bold statement that speaks to the power of human connection.

Another theme that is explored in the poem is the idea of timelessness. The speaker believes that his love is so powerful that it transcends time and space. He tells the sun:

"She's all states, and all princes I; Nothing else is; Princes do but play us; compared to this, All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy."

Here, the speaker is saying that his love is more valuable than anything else in the world, including wealth and power. He believes that his love is eternal and that it will continue to exist even after everything else has faded away.


In conclusion, "The Sun Rising" is a beautiful and complex poem that explores themes of love, power, and timelessness. Its use of metaphors and direct address creates a sense of intimacy between the speaker and the sun, while its rhythmic structure and enjambment give the poem a sense of movement and flow. Overall, "The Sun Rising" is a masterpiece of metaphysical poetry that continues to captivate readers to this day.

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