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The Computation

The Computation


by John Donne

The Computation Theme of Dissatisfaction

What's that? Sorry, we couldn't hear you over the speaker's weeping and sighing. Throughout "The Computation," he goes through stages of grief including disbelief, a retreat into memories, and spiritual paralysis – being unable to think or act on his own. None of these sound like happy states. The speaker tries to show the person he is addressing how much his life stinks without her. His whole existence has become shadowy and ghost-like, which implies that she is the substance of his being. He cannot be satisfied unless she is with him at all time.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. Is there any order or pattern to the stages of the speaker's grief/frustration/whatever-you-want-to-call-it? In literary terms, how do his emotions "develop"?
  2. Do the speaker's complaints seem authentic or clichéd? Is he just following the form of the love-poem genre?
  3. Do the simple rhyming couplets intensify or undermine the speaker's dissatisfaction?
  4. What is the speaker's goal in writing this poem? Is he trying to woo her back, or venting? Or does he have some other goal?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This poem is not about dissatisfactions, but rather about a lover trying to woo his beloved using hyperbole.

The poem's saccharine, song-like form undermines its emotional power.

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