Essay on John Donne's Powerful Statement About Love in The Broken Heart

Published: 2021-08-17
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George Washington University
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The poem "The Broken Heart" by John Donne has four octets that follow an ababccdd rhyme scheme. This rhyme appears in a very orderly manner despite the main image of the poem being a broken heart into hundred pieces. The powerful statement about love is mentioned at the beginning of the poem and it implies that any person who does not agree with the poets view about love is stark mad. The poets view of love is a person cannot be in love for only an hour because love is all-consuming. The last line of the first stanza of the poem talks about the all-consuming nature of love using the comparison of love to the burning of a gunpowder in a day. Love is also compared to other griefs in line 11 of the poem, to portray the longing of love pains as undesirable (Donne 210). The poet uses personification in line 4 where love is referred to using the pronoun he to describe it as a devouring monster that swallows people and never chaws.

In line 15, the poet uses a simile to insist in his message about love. He mentions that love is like a warlike destroyer, which are cannonballs connected by a chain or chaind shot and can kill rows of soldiers (Petkoska 42). Love is also likened to a pike, a large fish which can swallow large numbers of fish. In these imagery examples, the lover is totally consumers by love and has no agency. The meter of the poem is iambic. The number of iambs varies in the lines of the poem but the variation of the iambs is constant from stanza to stanza. In the poems stanzas which all consist of eight lines per stanza, the initial three lines are written in iambic tetrameter, the fourth line is written in an iambic pentameter, the fifth and sixth lines are written in iambic tetrameter and the last two lines are also written in iambic tetrameter (Donne 189). These patterns are complex in terms of meter and form. Not every line has the same meter and not ever line rhymes with the previous line. Instead, the poet throws a regularly-timed unexpected series of rhymes and rhythmic symmetry. The complexity of the meter used by Donne is appropriate for the poem since the poem talks about the disruptive nature of love.

In the thirds stanza, the speaker becomes personal, addressing the person who broke his heart. In the line where the speaker says that I brought a heart into the room/ But from the room, I carried on with me, (Donne 120) there is symbolism of taking of his heart and its destruction. The speaker is said to no longer have a heart and the absence of his heart strengthens his hateful tone since he blames the loss of his heat on the person he loved. In the final stanza of the poem, the pieces of the speakers broken heart are considered. Here, another simile is seen in the comparison of the poets heart to the glass. The speaker mentions that his heart breaks likes (McCarthy 198). At the end of the poem, the speakers heart is described as being permanently damaged and his feelings were metaphorically left in rags, eliminating his ability to love again.

Works Cited

Donne, John. Poems. Vol. 2. Lawrence & Bullen, 1896.

McCarthy, Erin. "Poems, by JD (1635) and the Creation of John Donne's Literary Biography." john Donne journal, 2013, pp. 190-260.

Petkoska, Andrijana. "Issues Of Love And Death in The Poetry Of John Donne 4." International journal of education, 2013, pp. 41-50.

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