John Donne Questions and Answers

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What are some metaphors found in the poem Meditation XVII?

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Donne uses an extended metaphor of a book's chapter to represent an individual's life. Our whole life is presented by Donne as a story written down in a great book. However, our lives are not the whole story; as a Christian, Donne believes in life after death. When a man dies, says Donne, a chapter has not been torn out of the book of life so much as translated into a better language. Death, like the various misfortunes that afflict us throughout our lives, gives meaning to the relatively short spell we occupy on Earth.

Each life, each chapter, is part of one great volume, and God is the divine author of that book....

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"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."

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