Explanation: "Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me All strange wonders that befell thee... and fair."


"Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me 
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair."

Answer: These lines have been quoted from "Go, and Catch a Falling Star", a satirical love song of John Donne, the most distinguished love poet of seventeenth-century England. The poet here speaks of the inconstancy and restlessness of women in love.

The poet, under his personal experiences of gay life in London and his association with different women in London society, confirms his view about women's faithlessness. By drawing several analogies, he suggests the impossibility of the undertaking to discover a true and fair woman. The poet says that it is as impossible to find a constant woman as to catch a falling star or meteor. Just as nobody can beget a child on the forked root of the mandrake plant, a plant which has human qualities, so also one cannot discover a woman who is faithful to her lover. A constant woman is as great an impossibility as the telling of where the past years have gone or who clove the devil's foot, or the listening to the music of the mermaids, fabulous creatures who have no real existence, or the changing of human nature so that one does not feel the pain, caused by envy and jealousy, or the finding out of the reasons which make a man honest. All these are impossible tasks, and a faithful woman is equally impossible. Even if a man were to travel ten thousand days and nights till his hair turned white with age, he will not find a woman who is both faithful and beautiful. Such a quester may see many other wonderful scenes and sights but he would never see this greatest wonder of all.

In these lines, Donne reveals his satirical-cynical attitude toward womanhood, and thus he breaks away from the Petrarchan tradition of woman-worship. According to him, a woman is constant only when she is ugly, and there is no one to love her; a beautiful woman who is the object of common admiration can never be constant to any one lover.

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