The Computation
The Computation
by John Donne
  • Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay
  • Time
  • Math
  • Death and Immortality
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Death and Immortality

Symbol Analysis

Death is not one of the major themes of the poem, but figurative language involving death often ends up in poems by the Metaphysical Poets. At the end of "The Computation," the speaker turns up the heat on his lover, who is addressed through apostrophe, by noting that the appearance of long life is only that – an appearance – and he has been metaphorically dead since they parted.

  • Line 2: The speaker uses apostrophe throughout the poem. He addresses someone who is not present: his lover. What has happened to her? Has she died? We're not sure – she could just be on the other side of town.
  • Line 9: Continuing his apostrophe, the speaker tells his lady friend not to speak of his 2,400-year existence as "long life. "
  • Line 10: The poem hinges on the metaphor comparing her absence to a form of death. Without her, he is a ghost. The poem's final words are a rhetorical question, one to which the speaker already knows the answer.