The Monogamy Method
By line 25 the speaker asks his lover, License my roving hands, and let them go Before, behind, between, above, below, then incorporates an allusion to land waiting to be conquered by exclaiming, o my America , my new-found-land. He extends this CoNceit, referring to himself as an emperor, where she remains his kingdom and a mine of precious stones, all of which are safeliest when with one man manned. Donne inserts another bit of wordplay but also suggests monogamy. He suggests another paradox by noting, To enter in these bonds is to be free There where my hand is set, my seal shall be. With strongly erotic suggestion Donne also reflects on the idea of civic law, often made official by a seal.
John Donne admired women, as is obvious in his early poetry. Much of it focuses on monogamous love and the importance of shared dedication. It also acknowledges differences between the sexes, holding at times to the traditional beliefs of his age. Those beliefs held that women should exercise control in their lovemaking, while men could make love at will, yet proposed men's love as more pure. Much of the era's religious and civic law supported that view. While Donne's love poetry clearly differs in tone and theme from that of the religious poetry he would later write, including his Holy Sonnets, he often employed biblical and religious allusions. As is obvious in the title to his poem, Air and Angels, he believed that religion and carnal love could be considered in the same context, an unusual attitude for his day. In the poem he plays with the philosophy that described angels as able to assume human form, while constituted only of air. The airy form proved pure, but not to the degree...
John Donne's love poetry has been categorized by some critics, including Theodore Redpath, according to its positive or negative tone. The Indifferent falls into the latter grouping. Donne adopts the prevalent attitude that women almost always proved inconstant. Men did as well, but they did not suffer the same social stigma as did women who engaged in multiple sexual relationships. Religious dogma blamed women's treacherous nature for the ills of the human race, based on Eve's sacrificing the future happiness of man by indulging her appetites in the Garden of Eden. In addition, civil laws of inheritance made clear the importance of monogamy of women, who produced sons who would inherent family property.
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