Goe and Catch a Falling Star - John Donne
John Donne’s poem ‘Goe and Catch a Falling Star’ can be considered as an antifeminist poem which is totally different from Courtly Love poetry. In Courtly Love poetry women were considered as very sophisticated and angelic figures yet this poem brings a very harsh comment on women. Through seven impossible tasks he brings out the idea of infidelity and fickleness of women. According to the poet there is a small frequency of having fair and virtuous women in the world. All these impossible tasks point out the futility of attempting to find a good woman.
In the first stanza he orders to ‘go and catch a falling star.’ Next to have a child after eating a ‘mandrake roote’ which contains a false belief in Donne’s time. And next another mythical belief which is that devil’s foot is cleft. Furthermore he challenges the reader to teach him to hear mermaids singing which is again impossible. As we all know mermaids sea fairies and they were used as mythical figures in ancient stories.
Second stanza further suggests that a seeker could ‘ride ten thousand days and nights’ till his hair grows white without finding a true woman. And again in the third stanza he confirms his cynical argument. The poet accuses all women saying that they lack the ability to remain true to any man. There is a playful tone in the whole poem with dramatic rhetorical questions. This poem can be viewed as a reaction to the extreme purity in Courtly Love poetry.
Song: Go and catch a falling star
BY JOHN DONNE
GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
False, ere I come, to two, or three.