WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,. A Pregnant banke swel’d up, to rest. The violets reclining head,. Sat we two, one anothers best. Our hands were firmely. The poem The Ecstasy is one of John Donne’s most popular poems, which expresses his unique and unconventional ideas about love. It expounds the theme. Notes towards a commentary on Donne’s ‘The Extasie’ John Donne () didn’t write ordinary love poems. Arguably the first of the.

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The Ecstasy by John Donne: Summary and Critical Analysis

Donne agrees with Plato that true love is spiritual. It is a union of the souls. But unlike Plato, Donne does not ignore the claims of the body. It is the body which brings the lovers together. Love begins in sensuous apprehension and spiritual jogn follows upon the sensuous.

So the claims of the body must not be ignored. Union of bodies is as essential as the union of souls. Thus, Donne goes against the teachings both of Plato and the Christian Divines in his stresses on sensuous and physical basis even of spiritual love. In this respect, he comes close to the Renaissance and Modern point of view. The essence of a metaphysical poem is the bringing together or juxtaposition of opposites, and in this poem the poet, John Donne has brought together and reconciled such opposites as the medieval and the modern, the spiritual and the physical, the metaphysical and the scientific, the religious and the secular, mystical beliefs and rational exposition, the abstract and the concrete, the remote and the familiar, the indoor, the human and the non-human.

The Extasie by John Donne

This is largely done through imagery and conceit in which widely opposite concept are brought together and the shift from the one to the other, is both swift and natural.


Two lovers, each the best man and woman in the eyes of the other, sat near the bank of a river, which was raised high, like a pillow on a bed, as th to provide place for rest to the reclining heads of violets.

Their lovers hands were firmly clasped from which emitted a fragrant balm. Their eyes met and reflected the image of each other. Thus they were one by holding their hands; but their images reflected in their eyes were all the propagation they did. As jphn two equally matched eextasie, Fate might hold victory in the balance, so their souls which had escaped from their bodies to rise a state of bliss and quietude, hung between tge and him. And while their souls held converse out of their bodies, they lay still and motionless like lifeless statues, all day they neither moved nor spoke.

It was ecstasy to which their souls ascended; and it made clear to them the mystery of love. As the result of this, they realised that love is no sex experience — they saw what they did not see before, i.

Souls contain various things of which we are not fully aware; love mingles two souls and makes them one — each of them becomes a part and parcel of the other.

A violet, if it is transplaed, develops in strength, colour and size. This new, re-animated soul, made up of their two separate souls, made them know that we are made and compounded of substances which grow and improve, which make us what we are not affected by change.

But alas, they had so long and so far ignored their bodies. Their bodies are ours, though we are distinct from the bodies.

We are spiritual being, and the bodies are the spheres within which we move. We are indebted to our bodies, for they first brought us together and yielded the sense to us.


The bodies are not impure matter, but an alloy. They are like the metal which, when mixed with gold, makes it work all the more better. When the influence of the heavenly bodies works on man, it first permeates the air, so a soul can penetrate another soul, but it is only through the medium of the body that one soul can contact another.

Therefore, the lovers turn to their bodies, so that they may understand the mystery of love. Love ripens in the soul, but it is through the medium of the body that love is to be experienced.

If some lover, such as they are, has heard this discourse, let him still observe them, and he will notice no change when they go back to their bodies. Its title is apt and suggestive. In the poem, the souls of the poet and his beloved stand out their extwsie bodies and hold converse. If we subscribe to the views of medieval and mystical era, Extasic is trance-like state in which the soul leaves the body, comes out, and holds communion with the Divine, the Xonne, or johm Over-Mind of the Universe.

In the poem also the souls of the lover and the beloved come out of the body, but they hold converse not with God, but with each other, the purpose being to bring out the essentially sensuous and donme basis of spiritual love.

Thus in his usual characteristic manner Donne has used religious and philosophical belief to thw the physical and the material.