In Donne's "A Lecture upon the Shadow," what has happened during "these three hours"?

In Donne's "A Lecture upon the Shadow," the speaker and his beloved spend three hours walking, during which time they see their shadows. These shadows represent the discord that has developed in their relationship.

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In countless works of literature, light and shade have been used to represent, respectively, good and bad. And Donne draws upon this longstanding tradition in "A Lecture upon the Shadow."

Here, the speaker and his beloved have been walking together for three hours. As they do so, they cast shadows,...

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In countless works of literature, light and shade have been used to represent, respectively, good and bad. And Donne draws upon this longstanding tradition in "A Lecture upon the Shadow."

Here, the speaker and his beloved have been walking together for three hours. As they do so, they cast shadows, and it is these shadows—the shadows that they themselves have produced— that tell us that not everything in the garden is rosy.

Once upon a time, the speaker and his beloved had a very strong relationship. Figuratively speaking, the sun was high in the sky and there were no shadows to speak of. But now things are a lot different; now the speaker and his beloved tread the shadows as they walk.

As their relationship has developed, so the figurative shadows have lengthened. In other words, there is now much more discord and disagreement in their relationship than there used to be.

The high noon of their love, the high point of what was once a very special relationship, has been replaced by the early evening of a connection in which love "has not attain'd the high'st degree." Just as the day declines from light to dark, so too has the relationship between the speaker and his beloved.

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