To begin, one must first understand what a metaphor is (in order to identify them within the confines of a text). A metaphor is a comparison between two normally dissimilar things. The comparison is made without using the words"like" or "as" (is used with a simile).
Therefore, a couple examples of metaphors found in John Donne's Meditation XVII are as follows:
1. In the following quote, a comparison is made between death and a sort of rebirth. Donne is stating that when a man dies, a "chapter" is not destroyed, but rewritten. Therefore, the comparison between death, a book and a new language is made.
When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.
2. In the following quote, man is loosely compared to a piece of land.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
Here, Donne is stating that men exist as pieces of the land upon which they live. While Donne does not mean this literally, he is making the comparison between man and land in order to show how they are a part of the society within which they live.
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language."
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
"Tribulation is treasure."
An interesting simile from the same work: "This affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine."