The imagery in John Donne’s poetry is not just a vital part of his works, it’s essential in combining his feelings and emotions so that he is able to write them down and create poems like this one “The Broken Heart” is an example of how John Donne uses wordplay to construct images in the reader’s mind, enveloping them in every word which was meticulously put to make his poem perfect. The tone he uses also gives the impression he was almost desperate to be understood. He makes the poem personal to him by asking rhetorical questions like “Who will believe me, if I swear, That I have had the plague a year?” and “Who would not laugh at me, if I should say, I saw a flask of powder burn a day?” When revised carefully, these questions have a feeling of extreme anxiety and grief. The images and the tone of all of Donne’s poetry are what give him his own classic, artistic approach.
When Donne wrote this poem, evidently he was heartbroken. Otherwise, he would have never had such antagonistic feelings towards love and never would have described it as being something like a monster. He writes “but us Love draws, He swallows us, and never chaws.” This makes one imagine a vicious beast enticing you to come forth, but then when his grasp is fixed, he swallows you whole, with no mercy, and “takes no prisoners,” as the old saying goes. So in short, Donne considers love to be cruel, sneaky, and brutal, so if you fall under its spell, you will never know what hit you.
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“I brought a heart into the room, but from the room, I carried none with me” illustrates how wickedly he was treated when he had his heart stolen from him and never returned. The image that is presented with this phrase is one of him walking into a room, with his heart on a silver platter, neatly laid out, gullible and inexperienced. Then, when he walks out, he doesn’t have his heart anymore, but because she owns it now. It’s the image of him with his heart all set that presents the idea that he’s innocent and naive.
Not until after you fully understand the poem and analyze it line by line can you actually recognize the point that John Donne was trying to make. The tone in which he expresses his sentiments of sadness and heartbreak sets the mood for “The Broken Heart” and adds to its fascination. The images that he portrays of misery and misfortune did unto him grasp hold of the reader’s compassion and don’t let go until much after you have finished reading the poem.