Themes in Song

Themes Examples in Song:

Song 5

"False, ere I come, to two, or three. ..."   (Song)

The speaker claims that even if his audience could find an honest woman, by the time he learned about the woman, she would have betrayed her honesty with two or three other men. This is the final point to the speaker’s misogynistic tirade against women. Not only does he compare honest women to mythological creatures, but also the speaker claims that they are so fickle that they cannot maintain their purity for even the short time it takes to walk next door. Each stanz works to hyperbolically reinforce the speaker’s violent distrust of women. While in Donne’s time this sentiment would have been accepted as humorous or true, this claim should shock modern readers and encourage them to see a distrustful narrator in these lines, rather than a devious woman.

"Yet doe not, I would not goe,..."   (Song)

At the end of the poem, the speaker’s lines are barely coherent. This is quite different from the beginning, where the speaker uses allusions to mythological creatures and creates an image of an epic quest. The broken syntax of this stanza emphasizes the devolution of the speaker’s argument and his rising anger.

"No where Lives a woman true, and faire..."   (Song)

In this second stanza, the speaker qualifies his statements in the first stanza: by no honest minds, he means no honest women. “True” and “fair” mean virtuous in this context. The speaker uses these words and the concept of “honest” to suggest that all women are duplicitous and promiscuous.

"honest minde...."   (Song)

Notice that all of the things in this opening stanza represent impossible tasks: catch a falling star, have a child using a mandrake root, understand the history of gods and devils, resist mermaid songs, keep from feeling envy. These impossible things are equated with an “honest mind” in this stanza. So, finding an “honest mind” is just as impossible as all of these mythological impossibilities.

"GOE, and catche a falling starre, ..."   (Song)

Some critics have read this opening line as a metaphor that encompasses the theme of the poem. A “falling star” can be read as a metaphor for a virginal woman who “falls” from grace by being convinced to be unchaste. So, to “catch a falling star” can be read as catching a woman before she falls. In the context of the other metaphors in this stanza, the speaker suggests that “catching a falling star” is both physically and metaphorically impossible. In other words, it is just as impossible to catch an actual meteor as it is to prevent a woman from becoming unchaste.