The Expiration Analysis and Summary: Stanza by Stanza- John Donne

The Expiration Analysis

Analysis of “The Expiration” puts it in the category of “Love Poems” of John Donne. It is the second closest love poem to metaphysical poetry after “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning”. The poet, in this poem talks about the harsh reality of separation from his beloved. He has captured the moment of everlasting farewell. He is parting from his beloved and feels that it is not as painful as it seems. In fact, he believes that it could close him to his beloved. He spreads light on spiritual love and says that it is eternal. Pure and lust-free love can be continued even after death.

Click here to read text of “The Expiration” instead of Analysis.

Analysis of Donne’s Poetry w.r.t “The Expiration”:

John Donne has always talked about love. He has never appreciated physical beauty of woman. In every poem, he converts his emotions and feelings to words. He has no worldly philosophy. If he has any, it is only related to love and mysticism. This poem is evident that Donne always prefers spiritual love to worldly love.

Stanza-I Analysis of “The Expiration”:

Factually, a farewell kiss always contains sadness. When two lovers say goodbye, they kiss each other, through which they express their emotions. Donne is also parting from his beloved. It is, indeed, the saddest movement yet at the end of poem, the poet gives message that for true lovers, parting is temporary, as they will meet again in the eternal world. Through this poem, he suggests something to his beloved. Every poem of Donne proves that his love is spiritual. Somewhere we find him praising his beloved, whereas somewhere he talks about her disloyalty but about himself, he assures his readers that his love is spiritual, pure and free from lust. Through arguments, he supports his assertions.

Analysis of “The Expiration” reveals that it is a little different from other poems of John Donne. In it, he is confident about his love as well as love of his beloved. In first stanza, the poet focuses on two major things: separation of body from soul and forceful death. He asks his beloved to stop kissing while saying that kissing may suck their souls from body; they may turn into ghosts. If they become ghosts, their days might turn into the nights. As usual, day is symbol of happiness, whereas night and darkness symbolize for grieves and sorrows. Moreover, ghosts have a disadvantage; they appear only at night. The poet and his beloved might turn into ghosts and then they would not be able to love in daylight. Night would be only option for them. Thus, separation of soul from body would bound down them to love only at night.

Analysis of Death and Boundaries of Love in “The Expiration”

In Donne’s eyes, there is no time to make love. One can love at night and if he wants, he can do it in daylight. Moreover, lovers do not need any specific permission for this purpose; they are free in this context. It only depends on the wills of lovers to select time of love. Nothing else but their mutual desires compel them to make love. Hence, Donne does not want boundaries for love. Neither time can limit lovers nor can any location bound down them. They follow just their own wishes; they are free to fulfill their desires of making love at any time and at any location.

Second focused element of stanza is death. “Death” is the main theme of this poem. John Donne does not want to die a cheap death. He is not against death but he is against following the orders. Death cannot approach him without his wish. He does not want to die on someone’s orders. He and his beloved want no disturbance in their love life. They will die as per their own wishes.

Stanza-II Analysis of “The Expiration”:

Second stanza of “The Expiration” is deep analysis of death. Donne directly focuses on death and is not afraid of it. He wants to die with his beloved. It is an opportunity for him to meet and love her even after leaving this temporary world. John Donne knows that the world after it is everlasting. In that world, he can endlessly love his beloved. The only problem with him is that he cannot die with her. He says that he and his beloved can use the word “Go” to die. When his beloved says “Go”, he should die. Similarly, if he says “Go”, his beloved should die but the problem is that in any case, only one of them would die.

Donne has found solution of this problem. He will say “Go” his beloved would die; he again will say “Go” and he would die too. It will be a punishment for him to kill his beloved. Donne has created a strange kind of situation in this poem. One thing is sure that Donne wants death for both of them at the same time. He cannot live without his beloved; therefore, he wants his beloved to go with him in the heaven for the purpose of making permanent love. In last part of the stanza, it seems that Donne strongly believes on spirituality of love. He does not want love only in this world but the world thereafter.

Imagery Analysis of “The Expiration”:

Donne has made analysis of each object minutely and used them freely in “The Expiration”. It is one of the capabilities of John Donne that he uses clear images. He often gives examples. Most of the time, he proves his stance through arguments. For this purpose, he uses lucid imagery. Some images, which Donne has used in this poem, are: “ghosts”, “kiss”, “souls”, “body”, “smoke” and “murder” etc.

To conclude, Donne after deep analysis presents the concept of death in “The Expiration”. Death and love are connected. To Donne, death is not fearful. In fact, it is his strong belief that death closes a person to love. His approach is positive but he is in angry mood due to separation. Readers can witness development of thought in this poem. In short, with the theme of death, Donne wants to prove that their (his and his beloved’s) souls could go together from this world and enjoy their love endlessly.