John Donne

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

Hero And Leander - Poem by John Donne

Both robb'd of air, we both lie in one ground ;
Both whom one fire had burnt, one water drown'd


Comments about Hero And Leander by John Donne

  • Gold Star - 6,833 Points Madathil Rajendran Nair (5/2/2015 7:54:00 PM)

    In death, we are all together
    Why then labour for unity here

    A very insightful poem! (Report) Reply

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  • Gold Star - 9,807 Points Terry Craddock (5/2/2015 4:55:00 PM)

    Hi Kim, easy to answer your question, both questions. Having studied classics and literature with love and passion, this loves are siren calls to me. To quote both sources, 'Hero and Leander is the Greek myth relating the story of Hero (Ancient Greek: Ἡρώ, Hērṓ; pron. like hero in English) , a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont (today's Dardanelles) , and Leander (Ancient Greek: Λέανδρος, Léandros) , a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero and would swim every night across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way.

    Succumbing to Leander's soft words and to his argument that Venus, as the goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to make love to her. These trysts lasted through the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light; Leander lost his way and was drowned. When Hero saw his dead body, she threw herself over the edge of the tower to her death to be with him.'
    'Hero and Leander is a poem by Christopher Marlowe that retells the Greek myth of Hero and Leander. After Marlowe's untimely death it was completed by George Chapman. The minor poet Henry Petowe published an alternative completion to the poem. The poem was first published posthumously, five years after Marlowe's demise.' The poem I am familiar with is the 'Hero and Leander' by Christopher Marlowe, but completed by George Chapman after the wonderfully gifted poet Marlowe was stabbed to death. I think Donne is lamenting the death of Hero, Leander and the poet Marlowe who was a great influence upon William Shakespeare. Marlowe reminds me so much of Johnny Deep, charismatic, endearing in indifference. Donne also is brilliant, mystic, fascinating, thus by associations, webs of connections powerfully increase the meaning of these two brief lines for me. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 15,373 Points Kim Barney (5/2/2015 2:01:00 PM)

    Pardon my ignorance, but who was Leander and who is the Hero to whom he refers? Where is John Richter to fill us in on these details? (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 29,303 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (5/2/2015 4:49:00 AM)

    A meaningful poem and in fact with few sentence the great expression of poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 56 Points Oyehan Opeyemi Akinkunmi (9/7/2014 11:15:00 PM)

    So short, but unconsciously symbolic (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 34,112 Points Gajanan Mishra (9/7/2014 10:07:00 AM)

    water drowned, wonderful one. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,686 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (9/5/2014 4:06:00 PM)

    i thought this would be longer..a story perhaps.. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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