What structure is used in the poem "Sweetest love I do not go"?  

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem "Song: Sweetest love, I do not go," by John Donne, is written in 5 stanzas each with a rhyme scheme of ababcddc. Each stanza has 8 lines.  It is a lyric poem which means that it is a poem that expresses emotion and is inspired by music or song.  The metric  and rhythmic structure is mostly steady following a somewhat consistent pattern of unaccented and accented syllables and line lengths.  Each stanza begins with a trochaic tetrameter line followed by an iambic trimeter line.  The fifth line in every stanza is a short iambic line comprised of 4 syllables (dimeter).  The other lines that comprise each stanza vary between trimeter and tetrameter and iambic and trochaic rhythms.  

In terms of content, the structure can be described in this way.  The speaker introduces a problem in the first stanza--he must temporarily leave his beloved--and a clever analogy--this leaving is a "feigned death." It is a way of practicing for the inevitable separation that death causes for us all.  In the second stanza, the speaker compares himself to the sun, and shows that he like the sun will return, but unlike the sun, he will return quickly since he has 

More wings and spurs than he.

In other words, the speaker has more incentive to return to his lover than the sun has to orbit the earth (yes, the sun does not really orbit the earth, but the speaker is making a point here).  The next stanza moves from a discussion of the sun's journey to a discussion of time--when good times come, time seems to go by very fast, but when bad times come, time goes by so slowly.  He remarks that man is incapable of controlling time.  

The fifth stanza is the climatic moment in the poem.  Here, the speaker shows his beloved how their love transcends time and separation.  They are spiritually united: 

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh's not wind,

But sigh's my soul away

Because the two lovers are connected, her sadness makes him sad and therefore takes his life away.  The last stanza returns to the comparison made in the first stanza--leaving is a kind of death.  But here the problem is completely resolved.  Those that are truly in love cannot be separated in life or in death because 

They who one another keep 

Alive, ne'er parted be.  

Their faith, happiness, and love in each other will keep them both alive and together, if not physically, then spiritually.  

 

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Sweetest Love, I Do Not Goe

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