John Donne's Song

Topics: Woman, Mandrake, The Mandrake Pages: 4 (1128 words) Published: March 5, 2007
In Song, John Donne demonstrates the impossibility of finding the perfect female—being both honest and attractive, using metaphysical contrasts and a gentle, mocking tone. The poem, with its quiet yet bitter cynicism of women, reflect the underlying theme of many of Donne's other works in which he blames the evilness of women for his pain and heartbreak. The first stanza of the poem is a list of impossible tasks—all of which Donne compares to finding an honest, good woman. The poem begins with a strong yet impossible command—"Go and catch a falling star". Already Donne has demonstrated something that is basically impossible. He does not use fallen but "falling" showing that hope is not all lost and that although the star (often a symbol of hope and faith) is "falling" it has not completely hit the ground dead yet. So, while Donne asks of the impossible he still exhibits hope. He then states to "Get with child a mandrake root". The mandrake is a poisonous and narcotic plant that was formerly falsely used for its roots, which has been said to resemble the human flesh, to promote conception. Supposedly, when pulled from the ground it would let out an awesome shriek and cause death to the person who uprooted it. By using "child" and "mandrake root" Donne exemplifies the deception of the root and the impossibility of getting a child from the root. Also, the mandrake also reflects the lethality of women perceived by Donne. In the third and fourth line, Donne orders the reader to tell him exactly everything about the past and who split the Devil's hoof. Both, including his desire to hear mermaids sing, are mysteries that are impossible to solve. Also, the devil's hoof and mandrake root resemble each other with 3 prongs each—symbolizing the multiplicities and deception of women which is furthered by Donne's mention of mermaids, creatures that are women only from the waist up and lure men to death with their beautiful voices (similar to the Sirens in "The Odyssey")....
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