Song -- Go and Catch a Falling Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Song -- Go and catch a falling star" by John Donne

It was said that Donne's poem was likely written when he was in a drunken mood and possibly, too, when he was rejected by his lover or disappointed in his love. Describing the difficulty of finding virtuous women in the world, Donne uses the similes of catching falling stars, pregnancies with mandrake roots and teaching mermaids to sing. "Ride ten thousand days and nights" says he, "till age snow white hairs on thee / Thou, when thou returns't, will tell me / all strange wonders that befell the / and swear / no where / lives a woman true and fair" (lines 12-18). A true Schopenhauer! In his final stanza, Donne concludes that even were this woman to live next door, by the time he would manage to meet her she would have succeeded in being unfaithful.

Donne's historical period (the late Middle Ages) is evident in this poem. Fundamentalist Christianity was the mainstay of Donne's time and a major teaching of style='color:#000;text-decoration: underline!important;' target='_blank' href=''>religion was the Church's stance on women: that faithlessness was common, that women were to be distrusted, and that it was better to remain celibate.

Allusions to religion appear thrice in this poem: the "Devil's foot' and 'pilgrimage' as well as 'fallen angels'. It may be that Donne is crafting a parallel between the religious quest and between the quest for physical / feminine consistency and satisfaction. Whereas metaphysical purity in religion may be found, in the world of woman (Donne seems to be saying), divine images are too human to be ideal (hence you have 'Devil's foot' / 'a falling star' / and 'fallen angels'. Love as idealized spiritual quest is corrupted by physical lust and unfaithfulness.

The poem is structured in such a way that the climax build up to a crescendo as it proceeds. The first stanza 'Go catch a fallen star' leaves us wanting to know more and leads us into the world of impossibility ignorant of Donne's intention: "Go and catch a falling star / Get with child a mandrake root / Tell me where all past…

Sources Used in Documents:


Logan et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume B -- The Sixteenth Century. NY: Norton & Co., 2006.

Cite This Essay:

"Song -- Go And Catch A Falling" (2011, August 14) Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

"Song -- Go And Catch A Falling" 14 August 2011. Web.30 October. 2020. <>

"Song -- Go And Catch A Falling", 14 August 2011, Accessed.30 October. 2020,