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Song by John Donne. By Katie Dennis and Max Davison-Kerwood. John Donne. Founder of the Metaphysical Poets. Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donne's personal relationship with religion was very influential, and at the center of much of his poetry.

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song by john donne

Song by John Donne

By Katie Dennis and Max Davison-Kerwood

john donne
John Donne
  • Founder of the Metaphysical Poets.
  • Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donne's personal relationship with religion was very influential, and at the center of much of his poetry.
  • Donne wrote most of his love lyrics, erotic verse, and some sacred poems in the 1590s, creating two major volumes of work: Satires, and Songs and Sonnets.
  • In his later years, Donne's writing reflected his fear of his inevitable death.
  • John Donne died in London in 1631.
historical context
Historical Context:

Historical Context

Period: Renaissance

Humanism- This mean individuals were asking questions such as “What is a human being?”, “What is a good life?”, In his search for the “ideal” woman, John had to first discover what a good woman really was. He believed she needed to be pure and honest.

Nature- before the industrial revolution farmers were the bulk of the population. Everyone’s connection to nature was much closer at this time.

Mythology- After the defeat of the Armada, Queen Elizabeth became an inspiration to her people and they often represented her mythologically in poetry.


Go and catch a falling star,

Get with child a mandrake root,

Tell me where all past years are,

Or who cleft the devil's foot,

Teach me to hear mermaids singing,

Or to keep off envy's stinging,

And find

What wind

Serves to advance an honest mind.


If thou be'st born to strange sights,

Things invisible to see,

Ride ten thousand days and nights,

Till age snow white hairs on thee,

Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,

All strange wonders that befell thee,

And swear,

No where

Lives a woman true and fair.


If thou find'st one, let me know,

Such a pilgrimage were sweet;

Yet do not, I would not go,

Though at next door we might meet;

Though she were true, when you met her,

And last, till you write your letter,

Yet she

Will be

False, ere I come, to two, or three.


The title of the poem "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star" makes us think that he will tell us to go and do an impossible task.


Go and do impossible things – catch a meteor; get a mandrake root with child, tell me where time went; who cut the foot of the devil, and teach me impossible things too – how to hear the song of the mermaid; how to not be envious; and what helps to better an honest mind.

If you're born to achieve such impossibilities, to see strange things and invisible sights, then ride for ten thousand days and nights until your hair turns white with age. When you return you will tell me of all the wondrous things you've seen, but you will swear that a woman who is beautiful and faithful is not among them.

If you do, impossibly, find one then let me know, because a journey to see such a woman would be great. But, on second thought, don't tell me, even if she were really close, because though she might be faithful when you met her, she'll be faithless with two or three other men before I manage to arrive.


1. Rhythm: “Song” follows a metric pattern of trochaic tetrameter punctuated by iambic monometer lines. This gives the poem a great musical quality, and also makes the reader pause on those short lines.

2. Melody: Donne uses a rhyme scheme throughout his poem. This rhyming gives the reader a feeling of flippancy toward this subject, which follows with his sarcastic attitude.

3. Imagery: When Donne says “And swear, No where Lives a woman true, and fair.” He is using a hyperbole, which is an extreme exaggeration of how there is no such thing as a noble woman. Or “Go and catch a falling star” because that is also saying what is more than possible.


The tone is very sarcastic. Donne gives the adventurer many impossible tasks, and then even if he can do these says that no matter where he goes he can never find a fair woman.


The major shift in the poem occurs when Donne talks about the imperfections of women. This shift changes the meaning of the poem from impossible feats to a worldly thing, women.


After revisiting the title "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star" matched up with our original belief. Then it went on to connect these impossible tasks to finding a perfect woman.


A message from this poem is that women are untrustworthy, and there is no such thing as a perfect woman. Donne says “and swear, no where, lives a woman true and fair” and talks in the close of his poem how any woman thought to be fair would never stay that way for long.

Another theme revolves around how fleeting time is. When he talks about “Where all the past years are” or how the traveler gets “aged snow white hairs” from looking for a perfect woman these are all examples of how Donne is seeing time fly by too quickly.

The purpose of Donne’s poem was to reflect on life, and the role that women play in it. They are never perfect, and more than that are always unfaithful or fair.