View Full Version : The ecstaty

05-19-2007, 03:23 PM
Doing AS english lit at the moment and have my exam next week; just doing some extra revision; anybody know any good sites where i can find perhaps an analysis of the poem. Seems not many sites like to write about this poems - perhaps because of the length of it ! I'm also unsure of the summary to this poem ! :| arghh ! thanks for any help :) xx:)

05-19-2007, 03:34 PM
If you post the poem we might be able to help you better.:)

05-19-2007, 08:27 PM
kayleigh89, maybe if you start with your thoughts others will build on them :)


WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
A pregnant bank swell'd up, to rest
The violet's reclining head,
Sat we two, one another's best.

Our hands were firmly cemented
By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string.

So to engraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one ;
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.

As, 'twixt two equal armies, Fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls—which to advance their state,
Were gone out—hung 'twixt her and me.

And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay ;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.

If any, so by love refined,
That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,

He—though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same—
Might thence a new concoction take,
And part far purer than he came.

This ecstasy doth unperplex
(We said) and tell us what we love ;
We see by this, it was not sex ;
We see, we saw not, what did move :

But as all several souls contain
Mixture of things they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again,
And makes both one, each this, and that.

A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size—
All which before was poor and scant—
Redoubles still, and multiplies.

When love with one another so
Interanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controls.

We then, who are this new soul, know,
Of what we are composed, and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
Are souls, whom no change can invade.

But, O alas ! so long, so far,
Our bodies why do we forbear?
They are ours, though not we ; we are
Th' intelligences, they the spheres.

We owe them thanks, because they thus
Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
Nor are dross to us, but allay.

On man heaven's influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air ;
For soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.

As our blood labours to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can ;
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot, which makes us man ;

So must pure lovers' souls descend
To affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great prince in prison lies.

To our bodies turn we then, that so
Weak men on love reveal'd may look ;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book.

And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change when we're to bodies gone.

05-22-2007, 09:22 AM
It's basically all about the two souls becoming one. the souls come out of there bodies and comunicate to each other. they are trying to work out what their love is about. '(We said) and tell us what we love, Wee see by this, it was not sexe' it is saying that love has nothing to do with the physical side of it, its all to do with the spiritual so in the moment of extasie it does not matter what gender the other person is if it is not physical. also there is the whole thing of how you learn more about yourself when you are in a relationship. you dont truely know yourself until you are with that person.
then at the end it is saying how that if it was for their bodies they would have never have met so they need their bodies and the physical union is important too. their love needs to be physically expressed too or the potential will be lost 'Which sense may reach and apprehend, Else a great Prince in prison lies.'
i hope this was some help. i know how you feel i have my exam this week too.

05-24-2007, 06:35 AM
thanks all :) I spoke to my english teacher this week and i have tried again ! I have to the conclusion that the poem is about a couple who are joined spiritually. He talks of the strengths of being spiritually joined as one and also how by being spiritualy joined the souls become alive yet the bodies remain as "statues" HE then explains how the bodies (sex) are an important factor of the relationship as it is the bodies which grabs their attention to begin with . He says that the bodies are the spheres and people are the intelligences. And also that the bodies are the alloy (sex). So Donne continually elevates the thoughts of physical love. The last stanza appears as a contradiction to all of the above and he claims that anyone on the outside will see no differant ?
These are my ideas which i am still unsure of so if you can point out any corrections or a diffferance in opinion i would be very grateful !

thanks again xx

05-30-2007, 05:07 PM
I don't know if you are still interested in the Donne poem, but there are some nice readings of Donne's poetry by Richard Burton at this address.


The Donne poem is very erotic in the true Platonic sense of the word, and depends heavily on irony.

On man heaven's influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air ;
For soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.

As our blood labours to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can ;
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot, which makes us man ;

I take the above lines to be the "climax" of the poem, and I believe that when Donne's poem is read rightly, not too sing song, but giving due to the rhyme and rhythm while maintaining a natural feel, there is a rise and fall simulating sexual behaviour, but always elevated to both a higher spiritual level and maintaining our unity with a vegetable condition. (Don't forget the imagery and symbol of the violet.) So man fulfills his existence as a great prince, and as akin to the violet, and as a divine being in his sexual strivings
which exist in some kind of timeless realm. It is all the same if they are doing nothing all day or reproducing or fulfilling themselves as spiritual beings who are in a greater unity which still preserves their unchanging condition as souls which no change can invade.

The two lovers are preserved as separate beings and brought into a higher unity.

An incredible poem which deserves a lifetime of study.

Good luck in your Donne studies.