These are the essay tests I've done for my English Lit. class. I decided to put this one up first because it's the one I got a 4.0 on. ^^


11/6/08: The Ecstasy

"The Ecstasy" is basically a poem about falling in love. It elaborately describes how when two people fall in love, their souls become one and even though they have separate bodies, they're essentially one person.

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The first example of internal music is, "Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread" (7). The last four words end in a "d" sound. A shorter line, "As 'twixt two equal armies Fate" (13), a "t" sound is shared with "'twixt" and "two." "Equal and "armies" also have a similar "a" sound. In "A part far purer than he came" (28), there's a sort of domino effect with the music. "Part" and "far" have the same "a" sound, and "part" and "purer" both start with a "p," and all three of those words have an "r" sound. One more for the road: "We see we saw not what did done;" (32). "We see" and "we saw" have similar sounds, and "we see" rhymes.

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As the first example of imagery, there are the lines, "Our souls…/…hung 'twixt her and me;" (15-16). A soul can't be seen, so that particular phrase is making the two souls visible in a way. The same can be said for, "So soul into the soul may flow" (59) (oh look, another example of internal music with the repeating o's!). Souls can't be seen in the first place, as previously stated, so the reader has to imagine them "flowing" together. One last example of imagery is, "Love's mysteries in souls do grow,/ But yet the body is his book." (72) "Love's mysteries" are intangible, so they can't literally grow. Donne again makes the soul tangible when it says, "…the body is his book."

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Now coming to compression, the first example is, "As 'twixt two equal armies Fate/ Suspends uncertain victory," (13-14), it's talking about falling in love and taking a chance to do so even though it's uncertain that they'll stay in love. "A single violet transplant/ The strength, the color, and the size/ (All which before was pure and scant)/ Redoubles still, and multiplies." (37-40) is simply talking about their pure love that's only getting stronger. Lastly is, "Our bodies why do we forebear?/ They are ours, though they are not we; we are/ The intelligences, they the sphere." The annotation after these lines explains that each planet has a "sphere" that carried it and it was controlled by an "…angelic 'intelligence.'" So Donne is comparing their separate bodies to the force that carries a planet and their souls to the "intelligence," defining the soul as who they really are.

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"The Ecstasy" talks about daring to fall in love through the images and compressions of two souls, although separated by bodies, becoming one.

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(By the way, John Donne's name can also be considered music.)


Have some no bake cookies. They're wonderful.