Love's Deity | Poem by John Donne | Summary and Analysis

Also Read

Love's Deity

I long to talk with some old lover's ghost,
Who died before the god of love was born:
Cannot think that he, who then loved most,
Sunk so low, as to love one which did scom.
But since this god produced a destiny,
And that vice-nature, custom lets it be,
I must love her, that loves not me.

Sure they which made him god, meant not so much,
Nor he, in his young godhead practised it.
But when an even flame two hearts did touch,
His office was indulgently to fit
Actives to passives. Correspondency
Only his subject was; it cannot be
Love, till I love her, that loves me.

But every modern god will now extend
His vast prerogative, as far as Jove.
To rage, to lust, to write to, to commend,
All is the purlieu of the god of love.
Oh were we weakened by this tyrnany
To ungod this child again, it could not be
I should love her, who loves not me.

Rebel and atheist too, why murmur I.
As though I felt the worst that love could do ?
Love might make me leave loving, or might try
A deeper plague, to make her love me too,
Which, since she loves before, I am loth to see;
Falsehood is worse than hate; and that must be,
If she whom I love, should love me.

I long to talk with some old lover's ghost, Who died before the god of love was born: Cannot think that he, who then loved most, Sunk so low, as to love one which did scom. But since this god produced a destiny, And that vice-nature, custom lets it be, I must love her, that loves not me.
Love's Deity

Summary and Analysis

Introduction:

      Love's Deity is addressed to the god of Love. Love is older than the creation of the god of Love. It is the lover who thought of installing a god of love. It is command and ordinance of the god of Love that man should love the woman who hates him. This is rather a strange position. Donne tries to justify the scorn of the beloved on the ground that opposite poles attract and it is only on account of the scorn of he beloved that love flourishes between her and the lover. The poet has no idea of revolting against or cursing the god of love because he may have his revenge on the poet by making the beloved love him, which to all purposes, is a pretence and a fraud.

Summary:

      Stanza 1 : I desire to talk to the ghosts of some old lover who loved and died before the god of Love was born (Lovers existed even before the god of Love who is supposed to rule the destiny of lovers.) The old lover could not have demeaned himself by loving a woman who hated him. But this god of Love and the custom of, love have fixed the destiny of the lover and he must keep on loving his lady in spite of her hatred. So, the poet must love his beloved though she does not love him.

      Stanza 2 : Surely, the old lovers who installed the god of Love did not want to put so much hatred in a woman's heart. Even the god of Love could not have sanctioned it. The function of he god of Love is to match and unite two hearts burning with love. He has to adjust the positive with the negative charge to produce the fire of love. The active force is that of the lover, the passive force is that ot the beloved. This produces the true charges of love just as in science the positive charge when linked with the negative charge produces heat. So it appears that true love is due partly to the scorn of the beloved (the negative charge).

      Stanza 3 : The modern god of Love, however, tries to extend his jurisdiction to the great activities of the great god Jove who assumed various shapes of birds and animals to enjoy the love of ladies. The god of Love is given to different moods of fury, lust, distant communication and approbation. If the poet were to revolt against the tyranny of the god of Love and dethrone him, he would be free from the necessity of loving a lady who does not love him at all.

      Stanza 4 : The poet has no intention of revolting against the god of Love or turning into an atheist, because the god of Love is capable of inflicting a heavier punishment on him. He may make him for sake his lady or rather make her show her love to him. This display of the lady's love would be something false. This falsehood is worse than hate, for the poet is sure that it is not possible for his lady to love him in return.

Development of Thought:

      John Donne deals with the nature and function of love as ordained by the god of Love. The poem sums up his ideas on the flexible nature of love.

      There is no doubt that lovers existed much before they made love into a god. The poet would like to ask an old lover if he could love a woman who hated him. Unfortunately, this is the destiny fixed by the god of Love that a lover must keep on loving his lady who disregards and scorns him. The lover cannot undo this destiny fixed by the god of Love. It is not possible that old lovers could have created a god of Love who filled the, woman's heart with hatred for her lover. The function of the god or Love is to bring together the lover and the beloved fired by the passion of love. Donne calls man's heart active and woman's heart passive, because she is at the receiving end. Only opposite poles can attract and get into a love situation. Similar ones can only repel each other. The lover is the positive end and the beloved the negative end and when they are linked, the fire of love is produced. This makes the poet conclude that true love cannot exist if the beloved does not hate the lover. It is her hatred which keeps the lover bound to her.

Modern God of Love:

      The modern god of love is more ambitious and powerful. He takes different shapes of birds and beasts in order to enjoy the love of woman. Even so it is not possible to dethrone this god because this would not relax the poet from the obligation of loving a lady who hates him. The poet does not wish to revolt against the god of Love or deny his existence. If he does so, the god of Love may inflict on him a serious punishment namely, of making his beloved love him. This can never be true in life because no woman would truly love him.

Critical Appreciation:

      The poem contains four stanzas of seven lines each, Each stanza offers a thought linked with the core - thought that woman's love is based on hatred. Donne's irony is revealed in his theory that to be really loved by a woman is utter falsehood and that the woman's hate is her true love. There is an inherent paradox in the position taken by Donne but he explains it scientifically that like poles repel and unlike poles atract. So, we are convinced by his logic that while man's love may be positive, woman's love is negative. The god of love is a strange being because he has destined that a man should love a woman who hates him. In all, the poem is a defence of the decrees of the god of love.

Previous Post Next Post

Google Search