The similarities and differences between Song, from the Songs and Sonnets collection, and Holy Sonnet VI are examined in this essay. I will compare and contrast these poems by exploring their topics, settings, themes, stylistic features, and tone. By comparing and contrasting these two poems, I expect to find the major similarities and differences between the poetry John Donne wrote as a young man and the poetry he wrote as an older gentleman. The topic of Song is John Donne telling his lover that he is going on a journey.
He explains in the first two lines that he is leaving because he must go away for a while, and not because he has become bored with his lover. He continues the topic by telling her in the last verse to just imagine they have fallen asleep together, because before she realizes it, he will be back. Writing to his lover, the topic John Donne chose to write about in this poem, is a typical and recurring subject in his early poetry. The subject of Holy Sonnet VI is a prayer to God asking him to forgive him.
He states in line 12 that he doesn want God to judge him by his earlier, physical sins but to look at him as the Christian he is striving to become. This topic is also used by John Donne in his later poems, when he is trying to compensate for the physical sins he committed as a young man. John Donne has chosen a different subject in both poems because of the audience he wrote the poems to; Song is meant for his lover and Holy Sonnet VI is written directly to God. John Donne s topics contrast greatly between these two poems. The setting of Song is difficult to determine.
I would assume that since the poem is half of a conversation, it is taking place somewhere where John Donne and his lover can have some privacy and can talk. It could be John Donne s personal rooms, for example. John Donne is leaving out the other half of the conversation, what his lover says to him, between the verses. I can support this because John Donne s verses are countering statements that his lover has said or done. For example, after the third stanza, his lover has started crying during the stanza break.
John Donne then asks her to not cry in the fourth stanza. I think that John Donne is still a young man at this time, because of the time period (c. 1591), the order of events surrounding his life, and topic of this poem. The voice of the poem is John Donne personally, which is a common feature of metaphysical poetry. The setting of Holy Sonnet VI is possibly a church where John Donne can pray to God without being disturbed, because the tone and topic of this poem fit such a setting. He has also chosen a personal voice for this poem.
However, I do not believe the setting is important to understand this poem completely because it is merely a personal message from him to God, independent of its surroundings. He is probably an older man now, because of the change in topic, from a lover to God, and time period (c. 1615) when he has written this poem. Personal voice is part of the setting because it explains who is talking in the poem. I think that the setting of these two poems is strikingly different, except for the personal voice of John Donne displayed in both poems.
In the poem Song John Donne is stating that two lovers shouldn be sad when the couple must be apart for while. He wishes his lover not to make an emotional scene at their separation in stanza four, and to look forward to their next meeting in stanza five. The theme he is working with here is the idea that separation is only temporary and should be viewed as a passing stage. John Donne s Holy Sonnet VI explains that God should, in his opinion, judge the spirit of people and not judge them by their physical sins. He expresses that people cannot help their physical sins in line 11, because the temptations are too great.
He also writes in line 7 that if God judges his spirit, he has no fear of death because his spirit is pure and holy. The overall theme here is that the state of the soul is more important than past physical sins. The themes are again different, but by looking at them both separately one can see that they are both metaphysical themes. He is asking the reader to view typical themes of love and God from a new viewpoint in Holy Sonnet VI for example, he is asking God to change the way he is judging people! Even though the themes themselves are different, both themes can be described as being metaphysical.
In the poem Song John Donne opens the first line in a conversational manner, writing the entire poem as one narrative sequence. He writes the poem as half of a conversation with his speech answering the questions of his lover. In the second stanza he uses imagery to compare himself to the sun. He then offers the reader a metaphor in the first two lines of this stanza: he compares the return of the sun everyday to the sky with his own faithful return to his lover. In the fourth line he uses a hyperbole when he exaggerates by declaring that even the sun doesn t have as good a reason to leave her as he does.
In the third line of the fourth verse John Donne uses a typical metaphysical feature, a dichotomy or paradox, when he writes unkindly kinde.. These two words clearly contradict each other because one cannot literally be kind in an unkind way. But in the context of the poem they make sense and show how John Donne feels about his lover s crying he doesn t want her to weep at their separation (unkind), but is still slightly touched by her true tears (kind). In the next line he uses a symbol by stating that his blood doth decay.. One can understand the blood to relate to his heart, a common symbol of love.
John Donne uses a common rhyme scheme of ababcddc throughout the five stanzas, meaning that it is all one idea linked together. Also, the constant rhyme scheme is practical because the poem is meant as a song, which is evident when one looks at the title, Song. It will be more melodious and easier to sing with such a rhyme scheme. John Donne uses metaphors in Holy Sonnet VI. He begins the poem by comparing his life to an ending play, which he means as the end of his spiritual journey. In the second line he compares his life to a pilgrimage, which is the end of his physical journey.
He continues this metaphor in the third line by comparing his life to a running race, which shows his final journey: his soul ascending to God. In the sixth line, Mr. Donne uses a symbol by writing sleep.. He uses sleep to mean death, again continuing his metaphor of physical endings to his life. In the seventh and eight lines John Donne uses another dichotomy, when he first states that he is not scared of God, and then contradicts it by saying [Seeing Him] shakes my every [joint].. Finally, in the twelfth line, John Donne uses a metaphor to explain death as a return to the ground, a final comparison to physical death.
He uses a rhyme scheme of abba abba cdcd ee in this poem, and only one stanza. This is because the poem is a Petrarchan Sonnet. This type of sonnet is very common in his time. He uses the first eight lines to describe the setting of the sonnet, and the last six lines to explain the theme. Also, the first two quatrains of the sonnet have identical rhyme schemes (abba) and the sonnet ends with a rhyming couplet (ee). Finally, John Donne uses a colon to separate the setting from the theme after line eight, and ends the sonnet with a period after line fourteen.
I think that the style John Donne uses in these two poems is similar. He uses paradoxes in both poems, which is very typical of a metaphysical poet. He also uses metaphors in both cases, another metaphysical attribute. His use of symbols in the two poems is also a constant feature. However, the stanza structure and rhyme scheme differ totally. I think that John Donne s writing style and use of literary techniques between these two poems is quite similar. I found the tone of Song to be relaxed and quite witty. He uses only one explanation mark, and not very strong language.
The mood that comes across to me from the poem is soothing, but also convincing enough that I could imagine his lover to have let him go on his journey. In the poem Holy Sonnet VI, on the other hand, I see an image of a man pleading for forgiveness from God. I have this feeling because of all the requests John Donne makes of God. This leaves me with a tense impression of the mood. Also, he uses some powerful imagery like Whose feare already shakes my every [joint].. This relays a tense mood to me. I think that the moods in these two poems are different, and I think that neither truly follows a typical metaphysical mood.
As I expected, John Donne s poetry is different when comparing his early works to those he wrote later in his life. I found evidence to support this by comparing and contrasting the topics and settings, which were completely different. Then I looked at the themes, both being metaphysical, but dissimilar. Donne s stylistic features were examined next and found to be quite similar. Finally, I looked at the tones of the two poems, which I found to be distinct. This completes my comparison between the poems Song and Holy Sonnet VI by John Donne.