Home > Free Essays > Literature > Poems > John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis

John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Aug 7th, 2019

John Donne was an English writer widely known for being the most prominent member of the metaphysical poets.

“He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses of love” (Cotterill, 1994).

Donne’s poems are famous for their enthusiasm of language and resourcefulness of metaphor and his writing style is exemplified by unexpected beginnings, a variety of paradoxes, ironies and disturbances. The themes of his poems mostly deal with ideas of true religion while expressing deep emotions for living a pleasurable life, enjoying what it may offer.

He is famous for his secular poems as well as erotic and love poems exhibiting his proficiency of metaphysical conceits (Gale, 2011). Donne is considered an expert of the metaphysical conceit, which is a comprehensive metaphor that unites two vastly diverse ideas into a distinct idea frequently using imagery (Greenblatt, 2006).

His works are witty, using paradoxes, retorts and subtle analogies which make them ironic at the same time skeptical especially regarding subjects of love and human nature. Donne’s poems contributed to the shift from classical to personal writing style (Dickson, 2007 ).

This paper aims to provide an analysis between the connections of sacred and secular love using John Donne’s four (4) chosen poems namely love poems “The Broken Heart” and “A Vindication: Forbidden Mourning” and divine poems such as “Sonnet 10” and “Hymn to God the Father”. In his poem, “The Broken Heart”, Donne discusses about how love is so powerful that it can destroy men’s hearts.

He elaborates this idea by comparing it to the terrifying sickness of his time, the plague, and a monster that destroys humans when hearts are broken. He also describes how love ruined his heart and being.

He warns his readers how after a heartbreak the heart still remains whole, never breaking physically but like the shattered remains of a broken glass of a mirror, one can still reflect on the warmth and affection love once brought but the heart can no longer feel love or is able to love another.

The poem is an example of the poet’s metaphysical style and usage of imagery emphasizing the importance of a shattered heart through exaggeration. In connection with the sacredness and secularity of love, the poem presents man’s love and the end of it as something earthly for it remains impermanent though the thought of love still occurs even though it has already gone and had left hearts broken.

A personification of sacredness of love is evident in the end though in only memories and thoughts are left to the man whose heart had been broken. In the poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”, sacred love that rise above the mortal essence is the main idea of this poem.

According to scholars, Donne composed this poem for his wife Anne More who died shortly after giving birth to their last child (Ferguson, Salter and Stallworthy, 2005). The poem opens with the author talking about men who have passed away without lamenting and that he tells his lover that when they are separated by death they should do the same, never mourning or crying because to do so would disrespectful their love.

Donne further denotes his sentiments by comparing natural disasters to celestial occurrences saying the latter are more peaceful. With this idea, the poet describes the love he shares with his lover is powerful in a sense that it is not only secular but also sacred for it can surpass even death.

The lovers do not need to make a commotion in being together in a physical sense like the earthquakes but can be with each other in a celestial manner that is, even if they are separated physically by death they can always be together in spirit. According to the poem, lovers who are more physical are in love and stay together because their physical beings are the ones that bind their love.

If they are absent from each other their love will be no more. Compared to the love shared by the narrator and his lover, physical love cannot last forever, it is temporary. However the love described by Donne in this poem showcased a higher kind which denotes that physical absence is of no significance for the lovers’ souls are one thus when they are separated by death physically their love still remains intact.

Holy Sonnet 10 is addressed to Death himself. We find the narrator having a conversation with Death, telling him not to be too proud because he should not be feared by people. The poem explains that there are many types of death, sleep for one is considered a form of dying and it is pleasurable thus Donne concludes that death may be even more delightful than sleep.

The poet concludes that Death is not its own master but rather a slave of fate, chance, kings and desperate men. In connecting to love and its sacredness and secularity we find ourselves loathing the idea of dying and adoring the idea of rest and sleep but according to the author they are in the same form the only difference is in sleep we awaken to the mortal world, the physical world rather than in death we wake eternally.

Human beings tend to confuse themselves in this aspect for we would rather stay in the physical world rather than in the celestial eternity. Our love for our mortal and earthly life becomes an instrument in our fear of the eternal and everlasting one.

Lastly in “Hymn to God the Father”, Donne describes his love for his maker and because of the power of his physical love he asks forgiveness and pardon from God for the sins he had committed. The types of sins referred to in the poem are; one is the original sin which according to Christianity is the Fall of Man brought about by Adam and Eve, another is the author’s personal sins in his past and lastly his sin of fear.

The first sin refers to the evolution of the first humans from a condition of innocent submission to God to a state of guilty obedience. In the second part of the poem, Donne is referring to particular sins he had committed in the past. These may be sins he did that led others committing the same act.

Finally, the last stanza deals with the sin of fear. Donne is afraid of sinning that he commits the sin of fear, questioning the promises of God. The poem is more focus on Donne’s relationship with God, a higher form of being not present in the physical world.

Love in both its sacred and secular form is seen in Donne, a human being living in the physical world, expressing his love and respect for God, who is in the immortal world. Love is seen here as surpassing the physical boundaries of life and is connected to the immortal which is God’s love in forgiving the narrator for the sins he had committed.

Reference List

Cotterill, A. (1994). The Politics and Aesthetics of Digression: Dryden’s Discourse Concerning the Original Progress of Satire. Studies in Philosophy, 91(4), 464-495.

Dickson, D. (2007). John Donne’s Poetry. London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Ferguson, M., Sallter, M., and Stallworthy, J. (2005). Biography. The Norton Anthology Poetry.

Gale, T. Encyclopedia of World Biography on John Donne. (2011). In Encyclopedia of World Biography online. Retrieved from

Greenblatt, S. (2006). The Norton anthology of English literature, (8th ed.).London: W. W. Norton & Company.

This essay on John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, August 7). John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, August 7). John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/

Work Cited

"John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis." IvyPanda, 7 Aug. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis." August 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis." August 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis." August 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-donnes-sacred-and-secular-love-poetry-analysis-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'John Donne’s Sacred and Secular Love: Poetry Analysis'. 7 August.

Powered by CiteTotal, best essay citation generator
More related papers