Canonization Theme & Summary

Canonization is an outstanding poetic work by the leading metaphysical poet John Donne. This witty, punny, and passionate poem was first published in John Donne‘s Songs and Sonnets (1633) –  a posthumous collection of the poet.

It is noteworthy that generally famous Victorian poets Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson are known for writing dramatic monologue(s) such as Andrea del Sarto and Ulysses respectively. As far as dramatic monologue is concerned; it includes theatrical features.

Poem Name Canonization
Poet John Donne
Published 1633
Form, StructureABBACCCAA ( iambic tetrameter )

Its central character reveals certain aspects of his/her character when he describes a certain event. That is why the poem Canonization also can be considered a dramatic monologue.

  • The speaker of the Canonization is a middle-aged person. He has fallen in deep love. He angrily tells his friend (who was mocking him) to leave him lonely as well as not interfere in his matter of love – “let him love”.
  • Done, the poem tries to suggest that ‘love’ is timeless in not just one way: (I) it is capable of striking at any age (II) love is also able to help lovers to attain saintlily (saint-like) immortality (when it have a little help from poetry)

John Donne’s Canonization Summary

The speaker of the poem Canonization rebukes his friend for interfering in his (speaker’s) own matter of love and forbids him to speak in this regard as well as let him “love”. A reader of the poem comes to know quite soon that love is the most valuable or significant thing for the speaker and he values it above all (else).

That is why he tells his listener friend to do anything except bother him about his love. The listener is free for: 

  • Making fun of his quirks
  • Getting a job
  • Going to school, or (even)
  • Mediating on the king’s face

In the next stanza of Canonization by John Donne, the frustrated speaker continues to describe, in what sounds like a rant, how his love has hurt any person. His love was/is never responsible for (I) sinking ships (II) flooding fields (III) Freezing out the spring, or (IV) Giving any person the plague.

In fact, love is harmless to all, but the speaker as well as the lover for whom it is extremely or deeply advantageous. Now, there is the speaker’s comparison of himself as well as his lover to a: 

  • Phoenix which lives as well as dies & lives again

In this way, the speaker and his lover could get through anything as well as be remade.

The speaker of Canonization tells his listener friend that in case the two lovers (speaker and his lover) are not able to live on earth as they desire, they will die with happiness. The two will become the saints of “love”. Though their position might not afford or provide them with grand tombs or a place in history, the story of the poem’s speaker and his lover will be described in sonnets as well as love songs. Moreover, they will have the capability of:

  • Looking down earth 
  • Seeing all the lovers praying to them

The speaker, finally, in the poem Canonization says that he is aware that they will be unhappy with what they see. Those who are lovers on earth will be loving in the correct or proper way. This is the thing that will enrage the couple.

Canonization Poem by John Donne

For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
         Or chide my palsy, or my gout,
My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout,
         With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,
                Take you a course, get you a place,
                Observe his honor, or his grace,
Or the king's real, or his stampèd face
         Contemplate; what you will, approve,
         So you will let me love.

Alas, alas, who's injured by my love?
         What merchant's ships have my sighs drowned?
Who says my tears have overflowed his ground?
         When did my colds a forward spring remove?
                When did the heats which my veins fill
                Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
         Litigious men, which quarrels move,
         Though she and I do love.

Call us what you will, we are made such by love;
         Call her one, me another fly,
We're tapers too, and at our own cost die,
         And we in us find the eagle and the dove.
                The phœnix riddle hath more wit
                By us; we two being one, are it.
So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit.
         We die and rise the same, and prove
         Mysterious by this love.

We can die by it, if not live by love,
         And if unfit for tombs and hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse;
         And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
                We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms;
                As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
         And by these hymns, all shall approve
         Us canonized for Love.

And thus invoke us: "You, whom reverend love
         Made one another's hermitage;
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage;
         Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove
                Into the glasses of your eyes
                (So made such mirrors, and such spies,
That they did all to you epitomize)
         Countries, towns, courts: beg from above
         A pattern of your love!"

The Poem Canonization Form, Structure and Meter

Canonization by John Donne has 5 (five) stanzas. This well-known poem is separated into sets of 9 (nine). They rhyme as ABBACCCAA; alternating as Donne saw fit from stanza to stanza. As far as the meter is concerned; this famous metaphysical poet was less consistent in this regard.

A reader will find moments in the text in which John Donne makes use of iambic pentameter. While at other times, the poet uses iambic tetrameter. At last, the readers are suggested to take note of the last line of every stanza; here he uses iambic tetrameter.

u003cstrongu003eQues:u003c/strongu003e What is the extended metaphor of the phoenix in the poem u003cemu003eCanonizationu003c/emu003e ?

u003cstrongu003eAns:u003c/strongu003e Extended metaphor or metaphysical conceit is often unusual as well as challenging. The speaker of the poem u003cemu003eCanonizationu003c/emu003e incorporates a metaphor; he compares himself as well as his lover to a phoenix. Both the speaker and his lover, in this form, are capable of: u003cstrongu003e(a)u003c/strongu003e livingu003cstrongu003e (b)u003c/strongu003e dying in a blaze of passion, as well as u003cstrongu003e (cc) u003c/strongu003e(then) living once again in a blaze of passion even more smartly or beautifully. In this way, it is a double reference – u0022deathu0022 is able to refer to a climax in a sexual relationship.

u003cstrongu003eQues:u003c/strongu003e What about the poem u003cemu003eCanonization?u003c/emu003e

u003cstrongu003eAns:u003c/strongu003e John Donne’s poem u003cemu003eCanonization u003c/emu003eis a description of transcendent love. It (the love) eventually evolves into the idealized baseline for all other baseline lovers.

u003cstrongu003eQues: u003c/strongu003eWhat are the themes of u003cemu003eCanonization?u003c/emu003e

u003cstrongu003eAns:u003c/strongu003e ‘The Power as well as Holiness of Love’ and ‘Love, Poetry, as well as Immortality’ are the themes of the poem u003cemu003eCanonization u003c/emu003eby John Donne.