John Donne

(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631 / London, England)

A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day, Being The Shortest Day


'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
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  • Jon Fogerty (1/24/2010 4:27:00 PM)

    This is Donne in melancholy mood: deep, dark despair following the death of his wife, Anne. All of his great love poems were written for her. And here, in what is the very anti-thesis of all those love poems, he is addressing the loss of Anne- her death. It is a difficult poem but, in my opinion, one of Donne's great, great works- perhaps even greater than any of the love poems or the Holy Sonnets. Why do I say this? - because it addresses the deep, personal loss, the anguish, the pain, the sense of futility, helplessness and isolation that he feels when contemplating the finality of death, the final breaking up with the one he loved, a breaking up that cannot be reversed. The language is stark, uncompromising: 'I am every dead thing' he says. He contemplates the prospect of those who are discovering love for the first time and urges them to look at him now, facing the end of love 'study me then you who would lovers be' he writes. He is urging them to be prepared for what love will ultimately lead to: loss, pain, aloneness when the loved one is gone, the realisation that, at the end, he must 'prepare towards her' that without his beloved there is nothing, just the wait to join her in death. (Report) Reply

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