Song : Sweetest love, I do not go by John Donne

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Song : Sweetest Love I do not go

Sweetest love, I do not go, 
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show 
A fitter love for me;
But since that I
Must die at last, 'tis best
To use my self in jest,
Thus by feign'd deaths to die.

Yesternight the Sun went hence, 
And yet is here today;
He hath no desire nor sense
Nor half so short a way:
Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.

Oh how feeble is man's power;
That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,
Nor a lost hour recall !
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
Itself o'er us to advance.

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind,
But sigh'st my soul away,
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's blood doth decay.

It cannot be
That thou lov'st me, as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste;
Thou art the best of me.

Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill;
Destiny may take thy part,
And may thy fears fulfil;
But think that we
Are but turn'd aside to sleep;
They who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.

Sweetest love, I do not go,  For weariness of thee, Nor in hope the world can show  A fitter love for me; But since that I Must die at last, 'tis best To use my self in jest, Thus by feign'd deaths to die.
Song : Sweetest love, I do not go

Critical Analysis

      The lyric 'Sweetest love, I do not go' was addressed by Donne to his wife Anne More when he had to take leave of her on the occasion, of his undertaking a journey to a foreign country. It is brilliant and unconventional love-lyric which stands out in the entire love-poetry of Donne. It is written in a tripping metre. There is a freshness and naturalness about this poem which is missing from the honeyed verses of the Elizabethan lyricists and song writers.

Development of Thought:

      It is a singularly frank, realistic and sincere song of parting. The reason is obvious. There is a perfect equality of love between the lover and the sweet-heart. The lover takes for granted his love for his beloved and vice versa. The artificial fears and sighs of the lover are after the fashion of the poet Petrarch. They are kept at bay because they are so cheap, boring and tiresome. Donne's love-song expresses mutual human love. Both the lover and his lady-love are grieved at the parting, but the lover being a man and scholar can deduce some higher thoughts from even this experience, which soothe and calm both of them. Though it is a Simple love-song, there is the development of an intellectual design. The lover feels the sorrow of parting, and even grows some-what pessimistic stanzas I and III. But abruptly he turns away from thoughts of death and pessimism and begins to dwell unon their mutual relationship. She must not grieve, for that would hurt him, since he is a part of her. In the last stanza sorrow is cast away, and the very idea of parting is dismissed as something irrelevant, since

They who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.

Critical Remarks:

      Love triumphs over the idea of parting. The final stanza is a typical example of Donne's habit to charge emotions with thought. Donne is at his best when he allows fullest scope to love, so that it embraces both the body and the spirit.

The lyric contains two beautiful conceits in the last but one stanza, vIz.

When thou sigh'st thou sigh'st not wind,
But sigh'st my soul away;
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's blood doth decay.

Paraphrase:

      Stanza I : My dear sweet-heart, I am not undertaking foreign travels because I am tired of you; nor I am going in the hope that the world can offer to me a better beloved than you, I am going because ultimately have to go. It is therefore better that I should accept the parting joyfully and not to feel sorrowful, but to pretend that I am dying.

      Stanza 2 : The sun set yesterday but has risen (he's come back) here again today. The sun has no attachment or feelings and nor has it to return from a short journey (but still it has returned). (If the sun can return), you should entertain no fear about my return. You should believe that I will be swifter than the sun in my journey since I would be impelled by my love for you to return soon.

      Stanza 3. Man is a very feeble creature indeed. If good fortune befalls him, he cannot lengthen the time of his enjoyment; nor is man empowered to recall the past. But it misfortune overtakes us or man we add to it by feeling sorrowful and we allow it, by strengthening and prolonging it, to overwhelm us.

      Stanza 4. When you heave a sigh, you don't exhale wind but my very soul. When you sted a tear, you shed the very drops of my blood. You are kind to me in a very unkindly manner. Thus, if you sigh and weep for me, you do harm to me. It means you don't love me as you profess to love me (because if you loved me, you would not sigh and weep for me). If you waste my life by languishing, you do not love me. You are the best part of me; (if you languish, I languish).

      Stanza 5. Let not your prophetic heart predict any misfortune for me (during my Journey). It is possible that your prediction may come out all rue and your fears, (about my safety) may be realized. But just think that we are not parting, but only are bidding good night to each other before retiring to bed. We are part and parcel of each other (we are one); hence we can never be parted, (for whenever the one goes, he carries the other in the heart with him).

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