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Air and Angels by Donne – Critical Analysis and Appraisal

Air and Angels John Donne Poem

The love poem “Air and Angels” stirs our imagination that the idea of platonic love, though holy and spiritual but is baseless. Donne does not believe in the blind worship of his idol of love and nor in the superficial admiration of her beauty. In his opinion, love is a child of the soul. It means that love can function with the support of flesh and body, wherein it is housed. The beloved, for that purpose, is the body of the soul of love:

In the beginning, the poet thought love was like a spirit or an angel but later on, he realized that love must be expressed through some concrete medium i.e. human body. That is the physical base and mutual love can only grow and prosper if both the partners yield to each other by mutuality and cooperation.

Example by Donne

Donne gives the example of a ship, which is loaded with ballast to maintain its equilibrium. Similarly, something more is needed to strengthen and stabilizes love than just a lip service admiring the beautiful hair, hazer-nut eyes, and rose-petal lips of the beloved; Donne expounds the physical union of the two to render continuity and permanence to their love. Bringing in the air and angle into his love poem, Donne wants to explain the difference between the love of man and the love of a woman.

He compares man’s love with that of angels who require the medium of air to clothe them to be seen. In the same way, the over must have a beloved to exhibit his carnal desires in the sphere of love. Donne compares a man’s love to an angel and a woman’s love to air. This leads our imagination to conclude that man is generally more active than a woman in the act of lovemaking. The traditional concept of a woman’s coyness and modesty does make one feel that she plays the second fiddle in the orchestra of love. But just as there is harmony in the angel air relationship there should be mutuality and response in a man-woman relationship.

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