UDE, Chiedozie Orji.
Department of English, University of Lagos.
The poem “Love’s Deity’ is, indeed, another work of literature which possesses a huge degree of mimeticism. This implies that this poem is one which projects several key issues that are peculiar to everyday life. These issues, no doubt, make the poem one that can be defined based on the extent to which it imitates life.
The poem captures the plight of the persona who finds himself in an uncomfortable situation of unrequited love — that is, he is in love with a girl who does not share his feelings and affections. Through this knowledge, it comes as no surprise that the persona either knowingly or unknowingly raises several issues which serve to explain not just his predicament, but also, the predicament of others who find themselves in love. Therefore, it can be said that the poem “Love’s Deity” captures themes which include: the theme of love; the theme of fate; the theme of defiance; the theme of callousness of the gods; and the theme of man’s belief in the supernatural amongst others.
The theme of love is obviously central to this poem. This is because it is the very reason for the persona’s struggle. He, the persona, just like many others, finds himself in a situation whereby his love is not being reciprocated by the object of his affection. The subject of love is a universal concept which has always complicated matters or made people happy. Hence, it can be said without any form of doubt that the theme of love, as projected by the persona, reflects the society.
Another theme which helps to project reality is the theme of fate. This theme is captured through the persona’s insistence that he has been given a part to follow by the childish god of love; hence, he has no choice but to follow this part — that is, the part of loving someone who will never love him. This theme, also, is in tandem with the classical notion of unavoidable destiny; little wonder the persona accepts his fate by constantly stating in the refrain that he loves a person who will never love him. This theme, definitely, projects realism through the insight provided on the persona’s condition and of course, through the similarities it shares with the classical notion of unchangeable destiny.
Closely related to the theme of fate is the theme of man’s belief in the supernatural. Man, as an individual, is one who believes in the existence of superior beings such as gods, demons and angels etc. It is, therefore, because of man’s belief in these elements and in the power they possess over man that makes man to always acknowledge them through praises when things are going well, and of course, blame them when things are not going well. This theme is well captured in the poem in that the persona believes that the god of love is the cause of his predicament, even without any clear evidence. The persona does not believe the fault may be from him, probably in terms of affluence or physical attractiveness; hence, he seems it worthy to blame not only the god of love but also, the gods who created the god of love. The presence of these supernatural beings is also exposed in the third stanza where the persona suggests that if the god of love is allowed to continue acting with impunity, other gods will likely follow suit, and by so doing, these gods will challenge Jove’s supremacy.
Of course, another theme which depicts realism is the theme of man’s defiance towards elements of the supernatural. The persona describes himself as a rebel and atheist. These words imply that he does not have much regard for religion and the gods, and he acts out these descriptions by insultingly calling the god of love a child. He continues to show his defiance towards authority by suggesting that the gods who created the god of love did not mean much. This suggestion implies that the gods are incapable and restricted when it comes to handling critical affairs. Finally, the persona brands the god of love as irresponsible. This, unequivocally, speaks of the persona’s blatant disregard for superior authority. Obviously, this theme is a universal concept because many a man, from time immemorial, has always been blasphemous towards the supernatural beings.
In conclusion, this essay has discussed the poem “Love’s Deity” based on the extent to which it imitates life. Several themes were raised and succinctly discussed with a view to proving that John Donne’s “Love’s Deity” is a poem that has a lot of verisimilitude with life.