Firstly, it would be pertinent to note my subscription to Lynn Hamilton’s view that ‘The Bait’, despite being ‘usually [and unfairly] dismissed with the comment that it is [only] Donne’s response to [Christopher] Marlowe’s ‘Passionate Shepherd to his Love’’, remains a poem rich in Donne’s distinctive rhetoric, his characteristically complex, provocative subtleties, gross paradoxes and his ironic, playfully seedy humour. For example, the primary thematic concern of the text is the parabolic parado...
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...ersona, for all his rejection of Petrarchan ideals, is nonetheless attempting to seduce a seemingly unrequited lover. To interpret the text through a religious lens, as is apt with Donne’s converted Protestant background, this bitterness and confusion could be considered reflective of a tenuous relationship with faith, religion and a higher, celestial entity: the addressee is described almost ethereally, transcending simile and metaphor, as ‘more than the Sun […] I need not their light, having thee’ (l.6, l.16) and is tellingly referred to solely in genderless pronouns. Fusing the spiritual and corporeal in an underwater, purgatorial realm, the persona surrenders solely to this light source, and consequently battles a sense of entrapment in religious instability and blind faith but remains somewhat comforted by the alluring magnetism and naked truth of the addressee.
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