John Donne's Songs and Sonnets by John Donne

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Please explain John Donne's poem, "Goe, and Catche a Falling Starre" (also known as "Song").

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John Donne's poem, "Song" or "Goe, and Catche a Falling Starre" (to distinguish it from other poems of the same name) addresses things that are supernatural/superstitious and impossible. ("Supernatural" refers to things not of the natural world—"above" or "beyond" nature. This can refer to God, ghosts, spirits, fairies, or any creature that is beyond what is seen in the natural world.)

...the speaker is a young man. He throws out fanciful notions of impossible attainments...

The first line encourages the reader to catch a falling star, an impossible task. Catching a star is impossible, another in the speaker's list of the "unattainable."

The next item is something steeped in witchcraft. The mandrake root was supposed to grow only under the gallows where criminals were executed, and were said to be shaped like a man, scream when "harvested," and able to kill any human hand that touched it. It was also rumored to help women conceive a child. (This is totally based on folklore, and impossible as well.)

The young man then asks where the years "go?" (No one can answer this.) He also wonders who put the cleft or split in the "Divels" (Devil's) foot. The speaker then asks...

Teach me to heare Mermaides singing...

Mermaids are like the sirens in The Odyssey, when Odysseus is tied by his crew members to the mast of the ship, and the others put wax in their ears: sirens are impossible to resist when they sing, and any man that follows the siren is enthralled until she eats him. Mermaids are also said to...

...sing...and enchant [people and gods], distracting them from their work and causing them to...run their ships aground.

The next line...

Or to keep off envies stinging...

...seems simply to...

(The entire section contains 623 words.)

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