Love is pure truth, a divine experience, a way to live more and surpass even death.
It is a sublime fantasy that is real and better than the material world. Love is life’s paradox.
This is the idea that John Donne is expressing in the poem The Canonization. It is a reply as well as a declaration that the poet makes to the world- a world that treats lovers harshly.
He scorns the worldly, he questions the inquisitive, he proves the myths true, he places his love high and announces it as canonized.
The sudden change in his tone doesn’t bother if one recognises the powerful and apt imagery he has used in the poem.
The very first line ‘For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love’ hits hard, but certainly in a good manner. In fact, it catches the interest of the reader at once.
The poem is like a necklace, beaded with beautiful and grand images like –
‘What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?’
‘And we in us find the eagle and the dove’
‘The phoenix riddle hath more wit/ By us; we two being one, are it’
‘As well a well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs/ And by these hymns, all shall approve /Us canonized for Love.’
‘Countries, towns, courts: beg from above/ A pattern of your love!’
These are not empty expressions as every word in the poem is linked with the central theme – love.
If we randomly pick one word from each stanza, it will still be related to the poem.
For example, ‘improve’ (stanza 1) – one who is in love grows as an individual and improves by learning to be selfless; ‘remove’ (stanza 2) – when in love you cannot dwell on hatred, and so the negativity is removed to make space for hope; ‘Mysterious’ (stanza 3) – love is an easy mystery; ‘legend’ (stanza 4) – we all remember love stories as legends, sadly these are mostly incomplete ones; ‘mirrors’ (stanza 5) – love is as reflective as a mirror.
Love is closely related to asceticism in the poem, which is one of the conceits (an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor) used by the poet.
He proves it with great subtlety that the lovers need nothing from the world; they complete each other and hence, know inner peace.
The poet says that the lovers rise to such a level that they become one and enter a divine world, thus leaving the material world behind. They dwell in each other’s simple presence.
In the last stanza, after canonizing himself and his lover, the poet says that his pious canonized love would be celebrated in the world by one and all.
He ends by completing the canonization of his love, placing it on a high pedestal, and separating it from the worldly pleasures.
Canonization, the title of the poem, seems to be a question and an answer at the same time. As one wonders about how love can be canonized and attain sainthood, the divine nature of the poet’s love presented in the poem gradually justifies the same.
The poet shows that his love is spiritual not merely physical, that his union with his lover has made them blissful and assures that it will radiate amongst the others.
His canonized love is not against the world rather it is for the world, acting as an inspiration. His love is not harming anyone but is a liberating force, just like a saint’s.
John Donne’s The Canonization is a smart poem with brilliant use of wit, the quintessential quality of a metaphysical poet.
He celebrates love in a simple, forthright tone that makes this 17th-century poem wondrously alive in today’s world as well.
‘Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?’ (Stanza 2)
‘Call her one, me another fly/ We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die’ (Stanza 3)
There is a message hidden in this poem and the title ‘canonization’ is the key to unveil it. Donne wants to share that every one of us, whatever be our rank in the society that runs according to the man-made rules, has the ability to reach the divine state.
Sainthood according to him is not reserved for some but is achievable by all.
What we need is to rise above the material world, to resurrect ourselves through true love. Here the beloved represents anything- a person, God, nature, the entire world.
Love is the best, the all-embracing way to reach the sublime state as it is love that makes a person truly selfless and compassionate.
Even today if someone pursues this path, they will know that they are canonized, for they are in love.
A touch of the moon colour and this life will glow and slowly will it know of a love story so pure that has travelled a long distance facing boldly every storm that has become a norm, followed by all, the same ones who secretly, meekly hope for someone to rise, rebel and risk it proudly, showing the world that a heart beats in every being, a heart that falls irrefutably in love, in love with a smile, a gesture, the earth, the sky and the moon… all this life needs is a touch of the moon colour.
Charu and Amal didn’t understand their heart’s secret, but how could it be that their own heart hid something from them, well it did. Maybe, Charu’s binoculars didn’t work properly.
And Mr. Bhupati, a lost editor, busy sketching the details of a busy world, had no time for keeping secrets.
Why did they give their secrets to Time for safekeeping?
Time always travels light, thus, it naturally left their secrets behind, visible for them all to see, casting a spell. The spell didn’t kill, it broke hearts.
The Ghat’s Tale
Vasant… Grishm… Varsha… Sharad… Hemant… Shishir… Six seasons talked to the Ghat near the Ganga River. The seasons brought green moss at times and dry leaves at others, dipping the Ghat into sunlight and rain shower with love, the seasons spoke less, but heard sincerely.
What did the Ghat tell them? It shared stories… yours and mine.
Let her be, why torment her, why read her notebook without her consent? She is little, just a girl, a child bride, she has left her world behind, she has carried some in her notebook.
Love is all-powerful and yet it blooms slowly in every soul, taking time for the realisation to sink in and sync with it completely.
A shade of love wrote a letter to the Postmaster who, tricked by mind, read it too late. Oh! That feeling…
The Broken Nest is a novella, while the other three are short stories; each one holds a complete universe and touches you deeply.
Rabindranath Tagore beautifully writes in the language of love, his characters always express something which stays usually hidden within a heart, sidelined by the talkative world.
Every story of his is like a time machine, it unfolds the past keeping it alive and magical at the same time.
The birds sing sweetest of songs in his stories, the earth dances the best to his tunes, the colour red blushes flamboyantly in his paintings and tears take time to dry up when he narrates.
So after I watched Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou I went for an evening walk with a question in my mind.
Why did Marianne call him Pierrot? I left without an answer.
The Poster of Pierrot Le Fou, a film by Jean-Luc Godard
It was getting dark as slowly the fog from the mountains was covering the valley from all the sides. The clouds made a thundering noise at some distance. It was surely going to rain and I still didn’t take any umbrella.
The two dogs with me were extremely excited, they rarely worry. Rain or not, they are always up for a walk.
I have a habit of calling them not by their names. Funny, they always wag their tails. I guess I call them so because of what their personalities reflect as a dog.
Anyway, Pierrot Le Fou…what a ride! From eccentricity to understanding it, from the society to clashing with it, from love to killing it, from life to getting killed. It was about Pierrot…a single individual and the incidents that occur one after the other in his life.
Criss-cross, criss-cross we climbed down the mountain. My mind was quietly dealing with the same question – why Pierrot?
Was it because of his personality, did Marianne know him more than he knew himself?
It seems so, in fact, he was aware about it but was reluctant to accept this fact and that’s why he reminded her each time she called him Pierrot that his name is Ferdinand not Pierrot.
Suddenly, as I was busy thinking and talking at the same time, it started drizzling. We decided to go back. The dogs were as happy to return as they were when we left the house.
I started running and so did the dogs, it was raining heavily now. Climbing a mountain is tough. I was short of air soon and I stopped to get some.
The dogs also stopped, we were getting wet. Breathe, breathe, I told myself and started walking briskly. And then when the cool fog was all around and my nose felt very icy, the question in my mind escaped.
Panting heavily, trying to catch up with the two dogs, I felt truly in the moment…I was in the present.
As if someone was behind me with a gun, I ran so fast. The dogs were running next to me. It was downhill now and we increased our speed. ‘Thundering typhoons, run, run, run!’
I am sure about one thing, Marianne didn’t lie when she called him Pierrot. She was being honest with him.
But I don’t blame Pierrot either. After all, he was busy reading and contemplating all the time. Someone’s philosophy ruled him.
Pierrot, busy reading.
This is what he was reading.
We reached home, wet. I was smiling. I sat on the chair and looked at the view. The young tree in front, with green leaves, was playing ‘raindrops’ tune. I listened.
Then I felt that I know the answer to the question, finally, but couldn’t put it in words.
When choosing my flower’s colour /
Blindly I pick all – the sun decides /
Which one suits me more.
A storyteller, following the ancient tradition of cave chroniclers, standing in vrikshasana (the tree pose) on a hill top (it is sunny, but windy), breathing in and out stories (relishing it all, but at times overwhelmed), declares animatedly that she will continue to – tell stories, share rare story gems, and connect with the pacy universe while also keeping the website ad-free.
Big thanks to my readers. Stay tuned!
Also, a humble request to the new subscribers to check the spam folder after subscribing. Silly (but necessary) confirmation emails often land there instead of the bright inboxes. Merci!
Chiming Stories (formerly Home Chimes)
P.S – Supporting a storyteller is good for the world’s health (and undoubtedly, for the storyteller’s health as well). Shower some love via Patreon.
Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on. Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
Godard… Breathless and Alive
A Tribute to Jean-Luc Godard, the Film Philologist who Reinvented Cinema.
Arthdal Chronicles is a South Korean fantasy drama TV series that takes us back to the Bronze Age in a mythical land named Arth, where different human species and tribes struggle to be on the top of the power pyramid.
Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.
Universe’s a Disciplined Place
Silver cascade shimmering the night sky, music to the waves and surreal beauty to the eyes, the Moon loves the art of discipline.
It may be difficult to believe for the Moon’s splendour defies time, it stupefies the clock, it follows the path of a dreamer, but how could this be possible if the Moon knew not discipline?