Language and tone in The Extasie

An argument

The language of The Extasie is an amazing combination of emotionally charged and philosophic language, in which the poet undertakes a patient argument to analyse the lovers' state of being. So there are all sorts of markers that an argument is being conducted:

  • ‘If any...'(l.21)
  • ‘(We said)' (l.30)
  • ‘We see by this'(l.31)
  • ‘Wee then'(l.45) etc.

The argument is quite technical:

  • ‘We are the intelligences, they the spheare'(l.52) (see Aire and Angels for a discussion of this);
  • ‘As our blood labours to beget/ Spirits, as like souls it can' (11.61-2).

This technicality suggests the theory of the day, which, whilst outdated to us, nevertheless still works as imagery, even if not science!


The language is also emotionally charged:

  • ‘Sat we two, one anothers best' (l.4)
  • ‘as yet was all the meanes to make us one'(l.9)
  • ‘And we said nothing, all the day'(l.20).

This is so simply put, yet what an extraordinary state it is describing. When was the last time you sat with someone for even an hour without saying anything to them and yet being in harmony with them? The ending, too, is extraordinarily simple after such a complex argument. Donne is not trying to impress or convince, but to bring to a quiet and satisfied resolution.

Investigating The Extasie
  • What would you say the tone of The Extasie is?
    • Can you see where the voice would become quieter or more dramatic in a reading of it?
  • Where, for you, do the difficulties of the poem lie?
    • Is it in what is being expressed?
    • Or is it in how that is done?
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