What is a critical evaluation of "Twicknam Garden"?

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In John Donne's poem, the speaker simultaneously elevates and castigates Love personified—which afflicts him with sighs and tears. The speaker comments on the dynamic between truth and appearances in love, especially through the extended, multifaceted use of "tears" as both literal images and as a metaphor.

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In John Donne's poem, the speaker simultaneously elevates and castigates Love personified—which afflicts him with sighs and tears. The speaker comments on the dynamic between truth and appearances in love, especially through the extended, multifaceted use of "tears" as both literal images and as a metaphor.

In the first stanza, the speaker uses the metaphors of the spider and serpent to accentuate their plight as driven by deception—they might be embittered by its venom and consider it in relation to the original "sin" (i.e., the deception of the devil in Eden that drove Adam and Eve from paradise). A frozen wasteland, the speaker claims, would be better than paradise, as the wintry landscape would not mislead them (as the current glory does). They further entreat Love to turn them into more "rooted" objects—such as a fountain or a plant, like the mandrake—so that they might be more permanently located in this location. Mandrake, with a root that resembles a human body, is also a common metaphor for sexual activity, so the speaker could be referring to their as yet unconsummated love.

In the last stanza, the speaker changes from addressing "Love," abstract or deified, to addressing "lovers"—presumably mortal humans. They also expand on the subject of tears already introduced. The tears from the fountain that would be placed in the garden would be the "wine" of true love; any other water would be false, the speaker claims.

They also indicate that their beloved has shown a false impression of love through her tears and through the look in her eyes. In the last two lines, the speaker addresses all women: "O perverse sex." The complexities of their problematic love are emphasized here. The speaker’s beloved is the only one who is "true," but this does not bring consolation because it seems that the "truth" is that she does not love them: "her truth kills me."

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