The Canonization

by John Donne

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What does "The Canonization" suggest about poetry's nature and significance?

Quick answer:

In “The Canonization,” John Donne reveals the enduring quality of poetry, for it preserves love and presents the lovers as an example to follow. Poetry is powerful in that it can make its subjects somewhat immortal and can spread love to others through its timeless words and images.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Canonization” by John Donne proclaims that the love the speaker and his beloved share is worthy of verse. This poetry, he maintains, can capture their legend. It can preserve their love in sonnets and hymns, setting it up as something beautiful to be admired and as an example to follow and even as something holy to venerate.

Poetry, then, has an enduring quality. It perpetuates emotions and events, scenes and relationships. It also paints portraits in words that can express love in ways that nothing else can. It builds “pretty rooms” where love can live on after the lovers are dead. It presents a pattern of love that others can study and imitate. Through poetry, “by these hymns,” the lovers will live on and even become famous for their love, canonized even as saints of love.

By these images and assertions, Donne implies that poetry is powerful. Its words and images, its rhythms and rhymes, can make its subjects immortal in a way. Poetry evokes emotions long buried and resurrects them in the minds and hearts of readers that they, too, might experience the feelings of their predecessors and activate them in their own lives. In a poem, love is captured and remains for all time, and the lovers spread and teach their love to many generations to come.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial