Donne’s metaphysical poem seems like a light-hearted witty joke aimed at women, but there are spiritual metaphors which substantiate Donne’s message on a deeper level. His meter creates dramatic pauses mid-stanza, which has an interesting effect. The poem’s title is simple, “Song” but Donne included its first line to differentiate it.
An illustration for the story Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star by the author John Donne
Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be’st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find’st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
False, ere I come, to two, or three.