Twickenham Garden as a metaphysical poetry.

Examine any one poem by John Donne as an example of metaphysical poetry.


Ans. “Twickenham Garden”: The poem begins with Donne’s personal predicament. In the first two lines of the poem we sense the agony of his tor self. Thus we see Donne writing:

Blasted with sighs, and surrounded with tears,

Hither I come to seeke the spring.

The mind of the poet is agonized to such an extent that he decides to go to the garden of his patroness, Duchess of Bedford, in order to sooth his afflicted nerves. In several of his poems, we see Donne paying handsome tribute to this garden; however it fails to illuminate us about the poet’s pain and anguish. This garden does to appears to be a garden made of marvels which conceals multiple meanings in it, however, it is just a pleasant place, which is capable of providing delight and mental peace to the poet’s tortured self. The poet has in his mind that he is going to get the peace of paradise in this garden and perhaps that is why he uses the word ‘True paradise’ in the last line of the first stanza. He also thinks that that the garden possesses magical powers. In the last line of the stanza we have poet saying ‘I have the serpent brought’, now this image of serpent can only be understood in terms of the image of ‘spider love’ in the sixth line of the poem. Both of these images are not as simple as they appear. The image of serpent can directly be connected with the serpent of Garden of Eden which is the primary cause of the original sin and thus the fall of man. Thus serpent is the symbolic of the sin which causes the turmoil in lives of the people. The image of spider love is something which is morally reprehensible because spider lives and feed in filth and dirt. We have the similar image of love in one of his other poem, Love’s Exchange. It is the deceivable nature of love which compels the poet use the image of spider and serpent in context of love. Now we find ourselves in a position to conclude the reason behind his tormented self and tortured mind. It is the, perhaps the disdain and indignity that is being caused to him by his beloved and the unceremonious treatment of him by his lady-love is the reason behind the pain and the anguish of the poet. What exactly poet is trying to do here is to put the blame on the love which is in his mistress and offers a new dimension to the treatment of love which has become the cause of his undoing. In the lines:


The Spider love, which transubstantiates all,

And can convert manna to gall

We have three words which need our attention. These words are–Transubstantiate, manna, and gall. In Eucharist Church transubstantiate is a doctrine which means that bread is the flesh of Christ and wine is his blood. This introduction of the theme of flesh and blood immediately reflects the crucifixion of Christ and also reminds us Judas who betrayed Christ for the thirty piece of silver. Thus the effect is but the betrayal in love. Manna is the food which god provided to Israelites while in their long stay in the desert, when the love and trust are not there to sustain the bond between the man and woman. And the third suggest the anger and ill-will. In the first stanza of the poem we find poet to be love sick and is being drowned in the slough of depression. And under these situations we are given the multiple facets of love.

In the second stanza presents disturbing image. The poet who comes to the garden in the search of peace and calmness is shocked and stunned as he sees that the garden becomes the menace with sinister design. This makes him want the garden to be folded in darkness.

In the third stanza of the poem we see Donne’s inquisitive mind at work. Here Donne is trying to explore and analyse the experience of frustration of love. Here we see the hyperbolic nature of Donne’s style in the lines when he says that lovers would come with crystal vials in order to collect his tears and compare it with their mistress at home.

Thus we can conclude that the poet wants but the naturalness of impulses seeking their enjoyment, in the least, without being afflicted and distorted by indifference and casual attitude of his lady-love.


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