How would you analyze John Donne's "Negative Love"? I can obtain a simple meaning from my point of view, but obviously this does not have the color or meaning that Donne would have intended, writing...

How would you analyze John Donne's "Negative Love"?

I can obtain a simple meaning from my point of view, but obviously this does not have the color or meaning that Donne would have intended, writing from the perspective of his time and the material that he used for reference for his imagery... so I am looking for an explanation that would fit with how he wrote and saw the meaning of the language that he chose in this poem.

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,808 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

John Donne was a metaphysical poet, which means going beyond or transcending the physical or material world. In terms of understanding his context or time period, Donne was a clergyman who believed in the afterlife and in a spiritual realm beyond this world. He was noted for sleeping in a coffin so that he would remember he was going to die. In this poem he leans into the idea of "negative theology" of Augustine and others, the idea that the Supreme Being can be defined not by what it is but what it is not. Donne applies this to romantic love. 

In the first stanza of this poem, addressing his beloved, the narrator scorns the typical lover (and/or poet), who focuses merely on the tangible qualities of the beloved: he says he never stooped so low in describing his love as to use merely physical terms, such as preying on "eye, lip, cheek." The word "prey" implies an animalistic kind of love that focuses on the carnal and wants to devour it. These lovers, like animals, "soar no higher" than...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 623 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write3,305 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

check Approved by eNotes Editorial