Song

by John Donne

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

 

 

Title:

Song

Poet:

Donne, John

Year of Publication:

1633

Age Appropriate:

16+

Notes:

Faithfulness

Category:

Love

Form:

Nine line

Type:

Lyric

Rhyme:

ababccddd

Literary Period:

Commonwealth: Metaphysical

Things to Discuss:

The tone of the poem is cynical. What is the message the poet sends to the reader? The poet has combined two unlike ideas into a single idea - was this "conceit" of the two journeys an effective one? Donne asks several rhetorical questions: what purpose do they serve? He suggests that all woman are tainted - could we substitute the word men? To the poet it is essential for women to be "true"; what about a search for a "true" and "fair" man?

About the Poem:

This is another one of Donne’s “women obsessed” love poems. The speaker leaves no doubt about the poem’s intent as he introduces the “mandrake root” which has the shape of the human body and was used in early rituals in love incantations. The opening line has been used in a number of songs by famous singers: Frank Sinatra, The Beatles.