Essay Metaphysical Conceit

Metaphysical Conceit in John Donne's The Sun Rising Essay

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Metaphysical Conceit in John Donne's The Sun Rising

Have you ever been in love? Have you ever felt a love so strong that nothing else seemed to matter? I hope that you have, but if you haven't, John Donne's poem, "The Sun Rising", gives a revealing glimpse into the emotional roller coaster that is true love. In the poem, Donne uses what is called a "metaphysical conceit" to emphasize the strength of the devotion between him and his lover. A metaphysical conceit is a metaphor extended to extreme, almost absurd lengths, so it makes sense for it to be used to describe intense feelings such as the devotion of two lovers. This definitely applies here, for in the mind of the narrator, he and his lover are the entire world, and the…show more content…

Upon looking at her, full of pride and bravado, he says to the sun, "If her eyes have not blinded thine. Look, and tomorrow late, tell me, Whether both th'Indias of spice and mine Be where thou lef'st them, or lie here with me." (Lines 15-18).
At the time this poem was written, colonialism and world trade were just getting into full swing, so it would have been quite a complement to be compared to the East or West Indies. Both were highly regarded and valued for their spices and gold, respectively. He keeps piling on the praise, though, extending his "we are the world" metaphor by comparing themselves to all the kings in the world. He tells the sun "all here in one bed lay" (line 20). As the poem progresses, his comparisons become more grandiose as he heaps more and more complements on the two of them. It is in the third stanza that Donne truly states the theme of the metaphor. It is also where he stretches the metaphor to its farthest lengths. He begins by stating his most blunt argument: "She is all states, and all princes, I, Nothing else is." (Lines 21-22)
Although slightly chauvinistic by today's standards, his words are strong and to the point, telling us plainly that she is the inhabited world and he, it's ruler. You might think that this relates the idea

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Metaphysical Conceit Essay

Metaphysical Conceit

Metaphysical Conceita highly ingenious kind of conceit widely used
by the metaphysical poets, who explored all areas of knowledge to
find, in the startlingly esoteric or the shockingly commonplace,
telling and unusual analogies for their ideas. Metaphysical conceits
often exploit verbal logic to the point of the grotesque and sometimes
achieve such extravagant turns on meaning that they become absurd
(e.g. Richard Crashaw's description of Mary Magdalene's eyes as "Two
walking baths; two weeping motions,/Portable and compendious oceans").

These conceits work best when the reader is given a perception of a
real but previously unsuspected similarity that is enlightening; then
they may speak to our minds and emotions with force. Examples of
potential metaphysical conceits->love is like an oil change; love is
like a postage stamp; love is like a pair of compasses; the soul of a
sinner is like a damaged pot. As you can see, the temptation to be
merely clever must be hard to resist, while the difficulty in making
such a conceit truly effective is quite considerable.

The Flea

1. Background: Étienne Pasquier and Catherine Desroches, 1579.
Pseudo-Ovidian flea poems in which the lover wishes to become a flea
in order to gain enhanced access to the beloved's charms; theme is
often bestialization of the lover by his own passion.

2. Plot is simple: a) speaker points to a flea that has jumped from
him to the woman and bites both; b) she has hunted down and caught the
flea; speaker tries to dissuade her from killing it; c) she disregards
his pleas and kills it. N.B. all the action occurs between the
stanzas. Elaboration: he has argued that their being bitten by the
flea is tantamount to having had sex without even touching each other
so that they might as well go all the way. She kills the flea, it
seems, to vindicate the moral law the speaker puts in question by his
argument about the flea bite-in essence she kills an offender against
her chastity. Afterwards the speaker tries to "clear the memory" of
the flea and in so doing completely contradicts his former argument by
arguing that the flea is totally innocent; then from the flea's
innocence he passes to the "harmlessness" of his own designs on the
woman. In essence he says she can keep her honour while losing her
virtue.

3) Since the conceit is that sex is like a flea-bite; it is relevant
to consider beliefs about fleas and those about sex current at the
time: a) sex involves the actual mingling of the bloods of the two
participants-but this must occur in body of female if procreation is
to occur; Donne cleverly evades that aspect by presuming that it does
not matter where it occurs; hence he says the flea bites are
tantamount to sex already. b) luckily, copulation in fleas is barren
(despite their mingling of...

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