Can A Study Of Symbolism Explain Holy Sonnet Xiv English Literature Essay

John Donne, the ill-famed metaphysical poet, wrote his aggregation of 19 verse forms ‘Holy Sonnets ‘ in a clip of evident hardship in his physical, emotional and religious wellbeing. Unlike typical literary symbolism, Donne gives ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ small ambiguity. Consequently, this allows Donne ‘s overpowering emotions to be explained through the intense and vigorous phrases in the verse form that represent Donne ‘s despair to go consumed by God ‘s power.

Donne uses the drawn-out metaphor of a ‘city ‘ non merely in ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ but besides in ‘Loves War ‘ . In this Elegy which was written in Donne ‘s young person, he describes a ‘free Citty ‘ which ‘thyself allow to anyone ‘ – a metaphor for how anyone can come in a adult female[ two ]– and goes onto state how in there he would wish to ‘batter, bleede and dye ‘ . Here, Donne is commanding the ‘city ‘ and taking over it himself, nevertheless, if Donne intended to utilize this same metaphor in ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ , the functions have changed and it now signifies how it is Donne who needs to be seized by God ‘s spirit. Furthermore, this represents how Donne ‘s life and hence attitude has changed between composing these verse forms ; he used to experience in control but now he is controlled.

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The physical verbs that are used instantly sets the violent subject of the octave. The spondaic pess emphasises Donne ‘s call for God to ‘break, blow ‘ and ‘burn ‘ his bosom so he can go ‘imprisoned ‘ in God ‘s power, making a self-contradictory image of a benevolent God playing in a barbarous manner. He uses a metaphysical amour propre to explicate how he is ‘like an usurp ‘d town ‘ with God ‘s vicereine ( ground ) in him. This imagination of warfare that pervades the sonnet symbolises his psyche at war with himself ; merely if God physically ‘overthrow ‘s ‘ Donne and ‘batters ‘ his iniquitous bosom will he be able to ‘divorce ‘ the Satan. It was around the clip of composing this verse form that Donne renounced his Catholic upbringing which gives grounds to the premise that the wickedness he was fighting with began to overmaster his Christian beliefs and needed God become as existent to him as God was to his respected Catholic parents. Furthermore, in ‘Holy Sonnet XVII ‘ Donne exclaims how ‘though [ he ] have found [ God ] , and 1000 [ his ] thirst hast Federal, a holy thirsty edema thaws [ him ] yet. This reveals that Donne feels that even though he has found God, his longing is non satisfied which gives grounds towards the premise that he is shouting out for religious rapture. This paradox between freedom and imprisonment was most often written about by most prison poets such as Richard Lovelace[ three ]Donne wrote, ‘Except you enthrall me, ne’er shall be free ‘ which implies the same thought as Loveless in ‘To Althea, From Prison ‘ that true freedom is internal, non external, symbolizing his battle with wickedness whilst he is physically free.

The spiritual symbolism that Donne unmistakably uses reveals his devotedness to the Bible. Critics have noted that Donne ‘took the Bibles with a extremist and eccentric literality which gave both freshness and substance to traditional thoughts ‘ . This is surely reflected in ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ when Donne pleads that he ‘may rise ‘ and be made ‘new ‘ which connotes the thought of a Resurrection, merely as he believed Jesus had done. Furthermore, ‘batter my bosom, three-person ‘d God ‘ could be associated with close scriptural mentions such as how God will ‘heal the broken-hearted and adhere up their lesions ‘ , later, construing this phrase as Donne desperate to take safety in God so his ‘profound mourning ‘ for his beloved late married woman would halt. A signifier of personification, personification, is used frequently in the bible[ four ]( ‘Do non elicit or rouse love before it pleases ‘ Song of Solomon 8:4 ) and, likewise in Donne ‘s work. He uses this device of ‘personified abstraction ‘ in ‘Holy Sonnet X – Death Be Not Proud ‘ and once more in Holy Sonnet Fourteen when he states how ‘Reason ‘ is God ‘s ‘viceroy ‘ in him. One critic provinces that personification is ‘a signifier of projection or supplanting… a rhetorical term for the mental phenomenon we call ‘hearing voices ” which could keep some cogency sing Donne ‘s fiscal and relationship insecurities at the clip. However, despite this loose connexion to Donne ‘s mental province, a more likely reading is that Donne has used this device to turn ‘imaginary entities into graphic agents ‘[ V ]to accomplish cognitive apprehension into an abstract construct that Donne experiences ; God has breathed ground – the replacement of God – nevertheless, this signifier of defense mechanism has ‘proved weak ‘ . This could reflect Donne ‘s bitterness towards God and show tones of hatred as he believes God has failed to suppress his wickedness through ground, possibly with some feelings of uncertainty towards His being. However, it is unlogical to construe this phrase in this manner as Donne is known to hold devoted his whole life to his faith and love of God. It is much more likely that Donne is saying this to demo his recognition of how ground has non been plenty in the yesteryear to entice him from wickedness but is pleading for God to get the better of the Satan with every ounce of ground there is, which he does non deny exists, even if it consequences in a ‘batter [ ed ] bosom ‘ .

Donne has structured this verse form as a Petrachan sonnet, after the Italian poet Petrach. The octave consists of an ABBAABBA rime strategy followed by a six with the rime following a CDCDEE form. The six marks the Volta, utilizing the concurrence ‘yet ‘ , which signifies a different position on the original subject and in this instance, the reader sees Donne bend from a despairing province to more brooding tone as he says how he ‘loves ‘ God and ‘would be loved fain ‘ . This device puts accent on this line, forestalling the explosive flood tide in the octave progressing, which symbolises Donne ‘s indispensable feelings towards his God. Furthermore, Petrachan sonnets were typically used to mention to a construct of unachievable love and frequently presented the topic as a theoretical account of flawlessness[ six ]. There is no uncertainty that Donne used this verse signifier consciously, stand foring the worship for God that Donne wanted to expose through the sonnet to replace any adult females that would typically be the topic. These factors being taken into consideration dismiss any claims that Donne is seeking to dispute God to turn out Himself and His amazing power that is displayed in the bible. Surely, if Donne doubted God ‘s being he would non hold been so dedicated to his calling of sermon and presenting discourses.

Literary symbolism is ‘characterised by a shimmering surface of implicative significances without a denotive nucleus ‘[ seven ]nevertheless, it is evident that Donne has non taken this elusive technique when composing ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ . The poet has rather evidently used thoughts to ‘stand for ‘[ eight ]something else throughout the verse form to portray his emotions which arguably does non present a text that has ‘rich plurality ‘[ nine ]. Ironically, this symbolises Donne ‘s forthright and despairing entreaty to God which supports a critic ‘s observation that ‘a sense of exigency is a temper of Donne ‘s extremely shaped poesy throughout his life ‘ where to hesitate his words is non an option. Consequently, ‘Holy Sonnet XIV ‘ lacks the ambiguity that a reader typically expects from a reading of symbolism nevertheless it is critical to recognize that this poetic manner was non acknowledged until the ‘late 19th century in the work of Baudelaire, Verlaine and Mallarme ‘[ x ]which surely suggests that Donne did non consciously use this literary technique to convey his significance behind the verse form. It must be acknowledged that Donne is renowned for being an clever metaphysical poet. Therefore, merely to a little extent has Donne merely used direct symbolism to show his contrasting emotions but instead the bizarre paradoxes, the vivid imagination, the alone amour propres and the imaginative metaphors all basically represent Donne ‘s despair to go consumed in God ‘s amazing and overpowering power.

Becca Campbell-Jones T58


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