The Paradox by John Donne (Blue Valentine)

Callen Gordon AP Literature P.4 Cappelli December 14th, 2013 The Paradox By John Donne No lover saith, I love, nor any other Can judge a perfect lover; He thinks that else none can or will agree, That any loves but he; I cannot say I loved, for who can say He was kill’d yesterday. Love with excess of heat, more young than old, Death kills with too much cold; We die but once, and who loved last did die, He that saith, twice, doth lie; For though he seem to move, and stir a while, It doth the sense beguile. Such life is like the light which bideth yet When the life’s light is set, Or like the heat which fire in solid matter Leaves behind, two hours after. Once I loved and died ; and am now become Mine epitaph and tomb ; Here dead men speak their last, and so do I; Love-slain, lo ! here I die. John Donne was a brilliant English priest, lawyer, and of course, poet, who lived from 1572 to 1631. Much of Donne’s romantic poetry (including The Paradox) was written in the early 1600’s. To understand The Paradox, perhaps it goes without saying that this poem is exactly that - a paradox. While Donne begins his poem speaking of love, he then begins to connect it to death. Two completely opposing forces are beautifully brought together as one throughout The Paradox. Donne’s paradoxical connection between love and death begins in the fifth line of the poem, when he states that he would be wrong in saying that he has been in love, because it is impossible for one to say anything if they were killed yesterday. Donne is suggesting that love metaphorically brings one to death. He continues this idea in his statement that people can only die once, therefore, anyone who says they have loved twice, is lying. Donne carries on in saying that one who has loved, yet seems to be alive, is only an illusion! This life that we seem to see is only the “afterglow“ of his life - of his love. Next, Donne relates this illusion of life to the heat left over by a fire, two hours after it has burned. While the fire (life) is no longer present, the leftover heat (love) tricks our minds into believing that it is actually present. As the poem comes to an end, Donne again speaks of his love, life, and death. He states that he once both loved and died, and he is now simply his own epitaph and tomb. As he has been metaphorically slain by love, now a dead man, he speaks his last words. Throughout Derek Cianfrance’s movie, Blue Valentine, the same connection between love and death is represented. The movie depicts the years shared between Dean Pereira and Cindy Heller, a young couple who both fall in and out of love. Blue Valentine shifts back and forth in time between their falling in love and the cessation of their marriage years later. Through out the movie, the viewer is privy to some of the best and worst moments through out Dean and Cindy’s relationship. The parallel presentation of the two stories of Dean and Cindy allow for us to see the strong distinction between falling in love, and the falling out of love. As we watch the two characters sing and dance together one moment, then in the next scene, watch them scream and fight with each other, the nonliteral, yet undoubtedly emotional death that arises within Dean and Cindy after years spent in love is apparent. While in some scenes, the once happy and in love couple that they used to be seems to come back, the viewer realizes that it isn’t real. Although it may look as if Dean and Cindy are “alive“ once again, it is just (as Donne would say) the remnants of what once was there. Through the span of the movie, both the love, and later, the void shared between Dean and Cindy are evident. Once (but no longer) in love, the “death“ of both Dean and Cindy in Blue Valentine would come as no surprise to John Donne. Works Cited Blue Valentine. Producer: Howell, Lynette. Director: Cianfrance, Derek. The Weinstein Company, 2010. DVD. Duke, David. The Paradox. Wortlover, 2009. MP3. Grizzly Bear. “Granny Diner.“ Blue Valentine. 2011. MP3. “John Donne: The Paradox.“ John Donne: The Paradox. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. ~ COPYRIGHT TO WEINSTEIN COMPANY. NO INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. UPLOADED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY ~
Back to Top