Structure and versification in The Extasie

A simple structure

Although The Extasie is a long poem, its structure is quite simple, much simpler than the typical Donne poem, being a series of iambic tetrameter quatrains, rhyming abab. The iambic tetrameter form is a favourite form for many of the metaphysical poets, especially Andrew Marvell, though Donne tends to avoid it (though note A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning). Some editions actually print the poem as quatrains. The sentence structure adheres fairly strictly to the quatrain form, which again makes the argument that much easier to follow. There are no ‘neat' solutions, since there are no rhyming couplets, so when two lines fit together perfectly, as do ll.71 and 72, it is a consonance of thought rather than of sound.

Investigating The Extasie
  • Look at the structure of The Extasie
    • In what sense is the poem a ‘dialogue of one' (l.74)?
  • The woman is completely silent the whole way through. Is there any sense of her presence?
    • If so, how does Donne create it?
  • In what sense is the poem ‘an invitation to sex'?
  • How do the theological ideas of incarnation and revelation help us appreciate the poem?
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