John Donne’s ‘s poem loves diet is an excellent example of his use of metaphysical conceit. The title of the poem itself is rather intriguing. At the first glance the title seems to suggest a diet of love prescribed to a person in an attempt to better his life, however as one reads the entire poem one realizes that the poems love is subjected to a diet in this case the diet requires love to exercise discretion. In the first stanza of the poem, the poet tells the reader that his love had grown to a “cumbersome unwieldiness and burden us corpulence.
It had become so unbearable and troublesome for him to deal with that he had to put it on a diet and curtail it. In this case love had to make use of “discretion” and exercise it limits. In this stanza itself Donne’s makes use of the greatest figure of speech that proceeds to characterise the entire poem as well. He portrays love as a separate human being, in this case a rather obese one. Therefore love has been given a rather negative portrayal at the very beginning of the poem itself using this personification which is the major figure of speech in this stanza and in the poem as a whole.
The speaker in stanza 2 changes from the poet to love. In this stanza love takes on the actual role of a separate human being and get almost be regarded as the speakers friend. Love talks about the diet that the poet has enforced on him and his effort in living up to it. He begins by telling the reader that he did not allow the lover more than “’sigh” in favour of his lady love, irrespective of whether she praised her lovers love for her or criticizes its insufficiency.
This portrays the women as never being satisfied with what she has and always looks for something more that she can get out of it. If at all the lover managed to extract a sigh from his lady and attempt to live upon that sigh, Love would show him that it was not that genuine or sincere that it could be lived on. The major figure of speech governing this stanza is a personification again primarily because Donne’s has endowed love with several personal qualities. In the third stanza Donne’s continues to right as love and elaborates on the way he enforces this diet on himself and the lover.
He proceeds to say that when the lover emotionally touched love and caused him to shed a tear love would drench that tear with so much of negativity and shame that the lover could gain nothing positive out of it. If the lover lived on his lady loves tears love would let him know that those tears were far from genuine and her love was far from true. The last line in the third stanza is extremely expressive and indicates the unfaithfulness of the lady in question.
In a very poetic line, sharp enough to draw blood and yet gentle enough to seem appropriate Donne’s says that the ladies “roving” eye make have cried for her lover but those tears were equivalent to a mere bodily discharge like sweat instead of being equated with actual tears of grief. The use of the personification continues to this third stanza where Donne’s portrays love as an extremely determined and rather stubborn individual and friend and well wisher to the poet. Love continues to speak about the various steps in the diet that he is strictly enforcing on the speaker.
Whatever the speaker would ask love to right, it would be written, however, when the lover’s lady wrote back to him Love would burn those letters because he understood and recognized the insincerity behind it. However love seems to be slightly perturbed at this point, wondering if this would push the lover over the edge thus turning a favour into a folly. If this action on his part would lead the lover to detesting him, would a title achieved in this manner be of a value at all. This line is rather ambiguous because it could also indicate that the lover in question is fortieth in line when it comes to the list of men in the ladies life.
He could therefore be ruing at being no. 40 or he could be wishing to ascend the ranks and make self a place at the top of the list. Donne’s continues his extensive of the personification in this stanza as well which actually dictates the tone of the entire stanza. Donne’s in stanza five shifts the speaker from love to lover. In this case the lover talks about bringing his love back on track after probably dealing with heart brake or unrequited love. A very clear indication of this is his use of the term “buzzard” in the very first line of this stanza.
The buzzard is a big stupid and ugly bird and by associating it with love he regards his love to be stupid. This indicates a slight tone of regret which is then wiped away in the next line of the stanza where he says he directs his love at what when how and where he chooses. It is probable that the disillusionment that he has suffered at the hands of this lady have led him to aimlessly and purposelessly caste his love as far as he can in the hope of finding a suitable women. As he proceeds in the stanza he mentions that he does find several women but the ending of each of their stories is just the same: unsuccessful.
As time goes by he realizes that the game of love is finally over and it is now time for him to continue to live his life by engaging in his daily mundane and routine activities. Donne’s makes use of personification and metaphor in the final stanza of this poem. He begins by personifying love as a buzzard, thus characterising it as being stupid. His use of a metaphor lies in line 4 where he uses the metaphor of a falconer. In this case like the falconer allows his falcon to fly high the lover castes his love as far out as he can.
In the last line of the stanza the poet compares love to a game that has just ended despite several attempts he has been left disillusioned and hear broken. The rhyme scheme in this poem is almost consistent, with the exception of the first stanza where the rhyme scheme is ABACBC. Stanzas 2-5 however posses a regular rhyme scheme which is ABABCC. The tone of the poem cannot technically be called entirely negative although it portrays love in opposite shades of white and black, while the speaker considers love in a more negative tone, love himself comes across as being rather positive.