Falling Stars, Witches, and Anime

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From John Donne's Song: Go and catch a falling star

 

"Go and catch a falling star,

         Get with child a mandrake root,

Tell me where all past years are,

         Or who cleft the devil's foot,

Teach me to hear mermaids singing,

Or to keep off envy's stinging,

         And find

         What wind

Served to advance an honest mind." 

 

I have read this piece before; however after reading it this time, I found the images in the first stanza appearing in my mind, but not because of the way in which Donne lists them.  I related these lines so so many movies I have seen recently that have these ideas in them, including Stardust and Howl's Moving Castle (falling star), Harry Potter and Pan's Labyrinth (mandrake root), and Peter Pan (mermaids).  I think that Stardust and Howl's Moving Castle apply to this poem most of all.  In both movies a falling star and the heart are related.  In Stardust, one character is a falling star who falls to earth and lands in human form.  Witches see her falling and try to steal her heart because this would make them live forever.  I won't go through all the details, but she eventually falls in love with someone, thus basically giving him her heart allowing him to live forever with her.  In Howl's Moving Castle, an anime, a similar scenario exists.  There is a young wizard who catches a falling star, which becomes his heart.  A witch wants his heart and tries many ways to get it.  Similar to Stardust, there is a girl who falls in love with him and eventually gets his heart instead of the witch.  Both of these movies can be compared to this poem.  Donne has obviously had trouble with women.  He is so discouraged that he says one can do all of these things and see so many of these great sights, but one would still never be able to find a perfect woman.  It is almost as if he is saying, go and try to catch a woman's heart that is "true and fair," but I know you will never find one.  His experiences obviously do not have the same perfect ending of Stardust and Howl's Moving Castle, but maybe he just needed to keep looking. 

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