In John Donne’s poem, “The Broken Heart,” the narrator is expressing
his feelings about love, after experiencing the hardships of a separation
The form of the poem is made up like a sonnet, for it shows common
characteristics in the order of telling a story in a poem. It contains four
stanzas, in which the first stanza introduces an idea, the second stanza
expands it, the third stanza concludes it, and the fourth stanza holds the
moral of the poem.
In the first stanza, the narrator introduces the image of a heart-
broken person. He questions himself for he dared to love. Saying he “had
the plague a year” (l. 6) implies that loving someone was a rather
unpleasant experience for him.
The second stanza expands the thought of love as being cruel when
devoting ones heart to it completely. The speaker also gives love the power
of weapons, to kill: “as by chain’d shot, whole ranks to die” (l. 15).
The conclusion takes place in the third stanza. The narrator concludes
that he had lost his heart to one person, but his love remained unrequited
by his significant other. The speaker tells the reader that his heart has
been “shivered…as glass” (l. 24). In this stanza the speaker also
addresses his lover rather than speaking to the reader.
The final stanza, the moral of the poem, holds the speakers final
opinion about love. He states that this rejection does not mean the end of
the world, but seriously broke his heart, as he called it “his rags of
heart” (l. 31). He concludes that he could never love someone the same way
again, as he loved this one person.
The speaker’s attitude towards love is obviously rather negative, for
the negative experience he had with love. He sees love as very powerful;
powerful enough to take lives and break hearts, but he also realizes that
love could have been so beautiful if the other side would have requited it.
The speaker is hurt and is not willing to torture himself, by having to
accept another rejection. He would rather go on not loving, than getting
his heart broken again.