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Analysis of Holy Sonnet XIV

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Analysis of Holy Sonnet XIV

Throughout history, many people have endeavoured to convey their
interpretations, or experiences, of the relationship between God and
mankind. Many interpretations are positive - Psalm 139 of the Bible,
for example, portrays the relationship between man and God as a
personal and intimate one - yet just as many are decidedly negative.
One such interpretation is Holy Sonnet XIV, an intensely personal poem
by John Donne which explores the feelings of a man torn between
physical desire and spiritual longing. In this essay I aim to study
the poem in more depth, analysing what Donne says and how he says it.

Holy Sonnet XIV was written at a time of crisis and confusion in
Donne's life; a time when he was torn between spiritual longing for
religion and holiness, and physical passion. The poem conveys a
feeling of utmost ambivalence - at one point, Donne expresses his
feelings toward God in the line "Yet dearly I love you", yet this
profession comes just one line after his description of Jesus as

... middle of paper ...

...sephone's yearly
reuniting with her parents); their not dissimilar desires and longings
(Donne's longing for spiritual fulfilment and a life with God;
Persephone's longing for life with her parents - both longings for
tranquillity and goodness). This comparison - between an ancient Greek
myth and a poem written in the 17th Century - goes to show that Holy
Sonnet XIV is a remarkable achievement: a poem that manages to be both
intensely personal yet has the ability to be read and interpreted on a
universal level.

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