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John Donne - "The Apparition" Close-Reading

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John Donne - "The Apparition"

In John Donne's poem, "The Apparition," the title tells us that the poem is about a person having an epiphany. We know this because the word "apparition," means "to become visible" or "an epiphany." In the opening lines of the poem, the speaker addresses his listener as a "murdresse." He then goes on to tell her that when she "thinkst" she is "free from all solicitation from" him, his "ghost will come to" her bed. This tells us that the speaker is a rejected lover who is addressing his ex-lover. When you put this fact with the title in mind, you can see that the rejected lover is having an epiphany about being dumped by his ex-lover.

In the first line, the speaker says, "When by thy scorn, o murdresse, I am dead," he is figuratively saying that his ex-lover has killed him with her scorn. In the next three lines, when he says, "And that thou thinkst thee free // From all solicitation from mee // Then shall my ghost come to thy bed," he is saying that when his ex-lover thinks that he has stopped having feelings for her, that's when memories of him will come back to her. In the next line, when he says, "And thee, fain'd vestall, in worse armes shall see," he is saying that she pretends to be vestal, which is a reference to the virgin who was consecrated to the Roman goddess Vesta, meaning that she pretends to be a holy virgin. The second part of the line is saying that she wears a weakened armor, which means that she protected herself emotionally before, but now she is emotionally weak. The next line says, "Then thy sicke taper will begin to winke," which means that her taper, which means candle, will begin to winke, or flicker. Her taper could be referring to her new love or flame and the speaker could be saying that her new relationship was losing ardor. In the next three lines, when the speaker says, "And he, whose thou art then, being tyr'd before // Will, if thou stirre, or pinch to wake him, thinke // Thou call'st for more," which could mean that when she is with her new lover in bed, who is tired from having sex with her earlier, and she tries to wake him, he will think that she wants to have more sex. In the next line, he says, "And in false sleepe will from thee shrinke," he is saying that her new lover will pretend to be asleep, and by doing this, will avoid having to talk or have sex with her. In the next three lines, he says, "And then poore Aspen wretch, neglected thou // Bathed in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lye // A veryer ghost than I." He refers to the girl as an "Aspen wretch," which means



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