## Confined Love Analysis

• 91
"Confined Love"
By John Donne

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser,
If on womankind he might his anger wreak ;
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know ;
But are other creatures so?

Are sun, moon, or stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose ;
But we are made worse than those.

Who e'er rigg'd fair ships to lie in harbours,
And not to seek lands, or not to deal with all?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbours,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good, unless
A thousand it possess,
But doth waste with greediness.

The poem called “Confined Love”, written by John Donne is based on Donne's observation that men, as a whole, are restricted from fulfilling their full potential by not only being allowed to “love” as many women as they please but by creating a reality in which love can be recognized as a polygamous love, rather than a monogamous one.

Donne says that certain men are “false and weak” because they follow this unsaid rule of a monogamous marriage and by following this rule they are “unworthy to be possessor of old or new love”, The speaker argues against this point by stating a question: “But are other creatures so?” By asking this, Donne insinuates that other creatures, whether it be animals, insects or aliens, are not participants of this rule, and are able to mate with whomever is available to them at the given time. This idea that Donne observes is in the first stanza, where another point is hidden in the quote: “Thought his pain… his anger wreak”. Here, the speaker gives us a logical explanation for which the reasons for man's anger toward women are evident, and can be avoided by instituting the destruction of this “false and weak” rule, creating men who are “unworthy...love”. By ending with the question of animality versus humanity, Donne gives readers the comparison that humans, like other free animals, should have the choice to choose whomever is available to them at the given time.

In the second stanza, the false reality is divulged and continued by the sarcastic comment “Are sun, moon, or stars by law forbidden… their light” in which Donne brings in the natural life to light once again for inspecting. He does this because in theory, the natural world has no laws at all, but only reactions with one another, thus creating the polygamous style of naturality. Because of our monogamous ways, “... we are made worse than those”, by following the law we are disavowing nature's intentions of having the freedom of multiple lovers without ramifications. By creating this observation, Donne assumes that nature's intent was to have the freedom of polygamous actions.
The third and final stanza stands to further emphasize the speaker's point, which is, in its simplest form, that men were intended to live like nature's creations with the freedom to lay with as many lovers as men want. Donne does this with his opening line “who e’er rigg’d fair ships to lie in harbours”, thus breaking down the law against (a) polygamous relationship(s) and lowering the value of said law and stating that men were built for the purpose of crusading with the freedom to not stop in only one partner, but encouraged to seek out more. In this stanza, he compares men to ships and their grand quest of seeking a new dock to harbor. He restates this premise further into the stanza by saying “... built fair houses, set trees, and arbors” and that they should not be locked away or set to rot in inconceivable isolation with one another, but instead be exposed to the elements, tried and tested for what they are worth, showing their greatness and gaining their experience with every harbor they dock. Donne further reinforces this statement with his last lines “A thousand it possesses, But doth waste with greediness”, ending his observation with a testament: that men should not be confined to one partner, but be shared, and celebrated for their experience and knowledge.

Do you agree with a polygamous world?
• 30
I think that it really depends on how you want your life to be. If you're fine with polygamy then go for it, if not, just stick with monogamy. It's all about your own choice. We can't make the whole world polygamous because it will definitely cause mayhem to the world. Not everyone agrees with polygamy as human emotions control the decisions we make in our lives, such as jealousy.
Anyway, to answer your question, no, I personally don't agree with the idea of a polygamous world.
However, if you are for polygamy, then polygyny and polyandry should both be permitted, in my opinion, but well let's save that for another discussion.

By the way, I really like the idea of this poem, from the way Donne saw the world, it makes you think.
• 945
I think the argument regarding beast-like actions for polygamy is very weak, as even some animals chose one mate for life. It is rather shameful for man to be regarding no better than the beasts, lacking self-control and loyalty to one mate. It seems that polygamy caters to lusts rather than love, as I think true love must consider the other person's state of emotions and reasoning. Does a woman truly think it loving to feel abandoned? That she must compete for attention and care?

Does it really fulfil a man to have many wives, or does it further enslave them to untamed lust? Humans are enslaved to one thing or another, but better to have a fair master than a driving one; a master who is not prone to fancies and whims of random emotions or desires, but rather to discipline and loyalty. To not hurt, but to heal.

Is it really liberating to do as one pleases? Does it truly give lasting satisfaction to become further enslaved to the beast-like state, which is governed by hormones? Or does it drag you down to despair, knowing that you will never have the stability and loyalty of one person for life?
• 2.4k
Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser,
If on womankind he might his anger wreak ;
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know ;
But are other creatures so?

The monogamous practice grew out of polygamy, where the strong, rich beautiful male, got all the babes, unlike those less blessed. If a woman had to choose, she might not mind several other lovers, a superior man who had several lovers. Some sort of natural selection attraction maybe.

Are sun, moon, or stars by law forbidden
To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose ;
But we are made worse than those.

The naturalness of polygamy vs the social constructs of monogamy, dowries, and "jointures". What is natural, is corrupted 'made worse' by these constructs.

Who e'er rigg'd fair ships to lie in harbours,
And not to seek lands, or not to deal with all?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbours,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good, unless
A thousand it possess,
But doth waste with greediness.

Ships ought to sail about, seeking new lands, not sitting in harbors. Good is not good unless it is shared, the 'virtue' of the polygamous.

From Wikipedia

Worldwide, different societies variously encourage, accept or outlaw polygamy. According to the Ethnographic Atlas (1998), of 1,231 societies noted, 588 had frequent polygyny, 453 had occasional polygyny, 186 were monogamous and 4 had polyandry
• 3
To answer the original question, yes I believe that a polygamous world would be a better, happier place. And I agree that it should be both polygyny and polyandry.
• 3k
To answer the original question, yes I believe that a polygamous world would be a better, happier place. And I agree that it should be both polygyny and polyandry.

Do what you want, but from a societal point of view, the important thing is protection of families and, in particular, children. Can a polygamous/polyandrous society provide stable families and safe, healthy children? Not sure, probably not.
• 342
Can a polygamous/polyandrous society provide stable families and safe, healthy children?

Provided it is an/the accepted norm. Social (dis) approval heavily influences how people feel about themselves.
• 3k
Provided it is an/the accepted norm. Social (dis) approval heavily influences how people feel about themselves.

I don't think that is the main issue. That's whether the family can provide a secure place for the children that will remain stable and consistent while they grow.
• 7.2k
Good is not good, unless
A thousand it possess,
But doth waste with greediness.

Donne can spread a coverlet of ambiguity over his poems' presumed meaning. Is it the case that "Good is not good unless a thousand it possess, but doth waste with greediness..." ? Is having only one good woman not enough? Must one have a thousand women, and waste them with greediness?

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser,
If on womankind he might his anger wreak ;
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know ;
But are other creatures so?

Let me rearrange this to make the point clearer:

Some men who are false or weak, and are unworthy to possess old or new love, decided they could lessen their suffering by displacing their pain, anger, and shame onto women, and making it a rule that women were stuck with one man only. Enforced monogamy is the strategy of losers.

If ships are male (going out into the world...) and houses are female (receiving the world), isn't Donne saying that men and women should both be free to love who all they will?

But we are made worse than those.

Are we as free and easy as the birds? OR are we affected in negative ways (made worse) by behaving like birds and beasts?

I conducted my sex life promiscuously until age snowed white hair on me. Then I became a good man to my husband and strayed no more. (After a certain point, it gets to be just too much trouble.)

Are women naturally faithful? Not according to this familiar Donne poem: (There are formatting codes buried in the text that I can't get rid of.)

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past hours  are,
Or who cleft the Devil’s foot;
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
Or find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be’st born to strange sights,
Things invisible go see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee.
Thou at thy return wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
Nowhere
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find’st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
[i][b]Yet do not, I would not go
Though at next door we should meet.
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two or three.[/b][/i]


Don't bother telling me you found a faithful woman, because before you came from next door to tell me, she would be unfaithful to two or three. What we don't know is whether our infidelity is an "is" or an "ought".
• 342

Buildings are stable and consistent. ....
• 3k
Buildings are stable and consistent. ....

Um....
• 698
Do you agree with a polygamous world?

I’ve got’a agree with folks like Lone Wolf and T Clark on this one. To all the poly-amorous aspiring people out there, nature holds mono-amorous partnerships as well as any other among its lesser animals. Those wild canids, without a single exception, are built to mate for a lifetime. Birds do it too, from raptors both big and small to, if one seeks to look at greater magnitudes of relative intelligence, parrots.

Robert Heinlein’s novel, “Friday”, is a good sci-fi book when it comes to a possible world of alternative relations. Read it in high school and, from what I can remember, I still can’t see much wrong with the world it presents. But, it is pluralistic, an “each to their own” kind of attitude. You had monogamous/androus marriages just as well as you had marriages between pick-your-number of people (for clarity, many being between equal numbers of two sexes).

As to alternative marriages, since we’re spilling the beans as regards fantasies, my two current all-time favorites are 1) that depicted in Hugo’s Hunchback of Notredame among its gypsies. You get married for the same number of years that a mug shatters into. After that, an automatic divorce. You still love (translated: care for) each other? Marry again. The shared sentiments (eros/agape/and all the rest) found in a lifetime spent together via a sequence of these marriages is what I find myself yearning for, personally. 2) Wiccan marriages. No kidding. These guys/gals get married—last I read—with the marriage vow being “till love ends”. Who would want otherwise? Besides, this type of marriage vow keeps both of you on your toes and the fires in-between stoked. Needless to say, neither is all that realistic when it comes to holding any political significance in our societies.

As for being a harem owner, speaking here to those who desire love and not tyranny, listen to any polygamous or (admittedly rarer) polyandrous head of household and you’ll discover that—other than the economic incentives of increased production via shared labor—it’s an incredibly big headache. You have to make sure that not only one but ten or so spouses are pleased, happy, and sound, each with her own needs, both emotional and physical.

However, if one dreams that “it’s good to be the king”, well, not that many kingships still available nowadays—which also means there’s not that many people enslaved to kings as serfs. Different subject though.

At the end of the day, however, when it comes to marriages/families, I second that it what’s best for the children that matters most.

(hey, if one thinks otherwise as regards children, I highly recommend that they don’t have any)
• 3k

Well thought out and expressed, although I've never liked Robert Heinlein's writing.
• 698
Well thought out and expressed, although I've never liked Robert Heinlein's writing.

Eha, tried to read his “Stranger in a Strange Land” later on in life and I couldn’t get past the first hundred pages. Isaac Asimov was my main staple in terms of straight-up sci-fi.

Thanks, btw.
• 3k
Isaac Asimov was my main staple in terms of straight-up sci-fi.

If you're like me, as a teenager you spent all the time you should have been doing productive things reading science fiction and looking for sex in the adult section of the library. Asimov was also one of my favorites. Arthur C. Clark. I bought my son "Foundation" for Christmas a few years ago and reread it myself. I was disappointed how poorly written it seems now, although the ideas still seem fresh.
• 698

(Y) This gave me a good laugh. But it's a good approximation. Hell, I even read Tom Jones - a very, very long book by Henry Fielding - on this count. Turned out to be pretty good.
• 644
Do you agree with a polygamous world?

Are women also polygamous in this world? Fair is fair after all.
• 91
Are women also polygamous in this world? Fair is fair after all.

I can definitely say that I have heard of women who enjoy the polygynous acts. So no, I wouldn't exclude women from this list.
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