First Thing in the Mourning: How Two Great Poets Coped with Great Loss

First Thing in the Mourning: How Two Great Poets Coped with Great Loss

Length: 850 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Each of us is defined to some degree by our suffering. When we experience a great loss, the grief can be overwhelming. We can become crippled by our emotions, plagued by questions, our faith is challenged. “On My First Son” by Ben Jonson describes a father’s tortuous conflict caused by the death of his firstborn son. John Milton searches for answers and self worth after he becomes blind in his sonnet [When I consider how my light is spent]. Both poems are powerful messages of pain and affirmation that address our universal need for connection. Each work is as relevant today as it was when it was written in the seventeenth century. Although they differ in form and the nature of their losses, each poem asks the same question: What is the purpose of my suffering?
Both poems are written in iambic pentameter. [When I consider how my light is spent] is an Italian sonnet with the rhyme structure abbaabbacdecde. Milton’s sonnet is very formal in tone and the words are gently delivered, as if he had already spent much time considering and coping with his loss of sight. “On My First Son” is written in heroic couplets. Line 3 is two beats longer than the rest of the lines, as Jonson laments the too short time that he had with his son. He thrashes about from loving memories to rage and confusion. His thoughts and emotions come across as a fresh wound, raw and painfully wrought.
Milton wonders what his purpose is now that he can no longer write words on a page, “that one talent which is death to hide” (line 3) “lodg’d with me useless,” (line 4). His work has been to serve God through his writing for most of his life up until he became blind. He fears that he will spend the next half of his life in darkness, with nothing of...


... middle of paper ...


...one something differently. In this society, we tend to hide our weaknesses and pillory those who don’t pull their own weight. When we lose the ability to work, we sometimes lose our identity and our sense of purpose. It can be even worse to lose a loved one; we wonder how we could possibly survive without them. We can find ourselves through a renewed faith in a higher power, we can console ourselves by seeking out others who understand our plight, and we can restore ourselves by connecting with the wonderful abundance of fine art and great literature. “On My First Son” and [When I consider how my light is spent] are timeless snapshots of the human condition. We suffer because we have the ability to love and to serve and to lose. We suffer because we realize our fondest wishes and our worst nightmares. We suffer simply because we have the capacity to suffer.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

We Wore Black Of Mourning My Father Essay

- We wore black in mourning my father. His death was especially cruel as the war just ended prior to the attack that took his life. Regrettably, the soldiers on both sides of that battlefield had not yet received the news of a newly signed peace treaty. This was a common problem in our world which proved difficult to entirely rectify. That knowledge was of little consolation, especially not to a child. My father received a hero’s funeral, which he deserved. It was lovely and certainly grandiose as well, although my memory cannot accurately recall the details....   [tags: Family, Cooking, Mourning]

Better Essays
719 words (2.1 pages)

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning and The Sunne Rising Essay

- A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning and The Sunne Rising To say that Blake and Donne do not write uplifting poetry is a great injustice to their works. Although some of their poems discuss themes of depressing nature, on a wider scale both Blake and Donne write poetry which is not only uplifting but also inspiring and extremely worthwhile to read. The two main themes covered by these two writers are love and death. The poems which use love as the main theme inspire the reader and offer hope that true love exists and is not a fragment of their imagination....   [tags: Valediction Forbidding Mourning Essays]

Free Essays
601 words (1.7 pages)

Compare The Way Poets Explore A Sense Of Loss Essays

- The poets’ explorations of the feeling of loss extends much further than the ephemeral. It is a continuous feeling which transcends the physical, embodying itself equally in the facets of identity, life, and trust. Plath, a confessional poet, uses her poetry as a cathartic medium to convey her personal loss. This lends a very personal tone to her poetry, while Frost writes from an observational perspective, often taking on the persona of a being experiencing loss. The poets use families and the belittlement of women to align the reader with the many facets of loss....   [tags: comparison]

Better Essays
812 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on John Donne's 'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning'

- John Donne; A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning John Donne (1572-1631) was one of England's greatest and most creative poets. He worked as secretary for Sir Thomas Edgerton, the Keeper of the Great Seal of England. At that time, Donne fell in love with Anne More (1584-1617) who was the niece of Edgerton's second wife. Edgerton and Ann's father, Sir George More, who was Chancellor of the Garter, strongly disagreed with them getting married. However, Donne married Anne in 1601 when she turned seventeen....   [tags: Poetry Analysis]

Better Essays
946 words (2.7 pages)

Mourning and Grief Essay

- Sigmund Freud, born on May 8th, 1856, was the founder of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts believed that human behavior, experience, and cognition were largely determined by irrational drives which were mostly unconscious. Freud further developed the mechanisms of repression and established a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and their respective psychoanalyst. Though psychoanalysts are not very common in our current day, other forms of psychotherapy have developed that employs diverging ideas, originating from Freud’s original thoughts and approach to studying the mind (Boeree)....   [tags: Psychology]

Better Essays
946 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Poem A Valediciton : Forbidding Mourning By John Donne

- A poem is a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, and usually metaphorical. More often than not poems are written about love. Authors talk deeply about love gone wrong, advice when in love, and the over powering feeling and emotions of being in love. Love is magical, when to people bond physically, mentally, and emotionally, giving all that you are to someone for them to appreciate and love all your flaws and imperfections, that’s beautiful....   [tags: Love, Sonnet, Poetry, Metaphysical poets]

Better Essays
1000 words (2.9 pages)

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne Essay

- “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” by John Donne explores love through the ideas of assurance and separation. Donne uses vivid imagery to impart his moral themes on his audience. A truer, more refined love, Donne explains comes from a connection at the mind, the joining of two souls as one. Physical presence is irrelevant if a true marriage of the minds has occurred, joining a pair of lovers’ souls eternally. In order to describe the form which Donne gives to true love he chooses to create a scene of separation....   [tags: A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning John Donne]

Better Essays
582 words (1.7 pages)

Essay on The Golden Rules Of Weight Loss

- The Golden Rules To Weight Loss These rules are set in stone amongst regular dieters and weight loss participaters of the world today. They keep to the golden code of simple but effective guidelines that as helped them to overcome the restless worry and aggrevation of being too large and fat. That fear is what has pushed them on to get results. If more and more people followed these guidelines, they would be happier about themselves than they are right now. They are simple, effective and easy to follow....   [tags: Nutrition, Milk, Obesity, Weight loss]

Better Essays
1422 words (4.1 pages)

Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and John Donne's A Valedictorian: Forbidding Mourning

- Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and John Donne's A Valedictorian: Forbidding Mourning One may define poetry as imaginative and creative writing which uses elements like rhyme, meter, and imagery to express personal thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Certain subjects recur frequently in poetry such as carpe diem, nature, death, and family. Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbiddmg Mourning," focus on the prevalent topic of love. Although both poems emphasize the importance and meaning of love, the tone of each poem reveals differences with regard to the conception and magnitude of the love; the diction shows contrasting ways in which each poet in...   [tags: Poem Poetry Mistress Mourning Essays]

Better Essays
1437 words (4.1 pages)

Romantic Poets and Their Response to Nature Essay

- Romantic Poets and Their Response to Nature Consider how the romantic poets have responded to the subject of nature with close references to at least three poems studied. Consider how the romantic poets have responded to the subject of nature with close references to at least three poems studied, comment in detail on: 1. Imagery (e.g. simile, metaphor, personification.) 2. Subject matter/theme 3. Characteristics of the romantic movement Romanticism was a poetic movement of the 19th century, during The French Revolution....   [tags: Romantic Poets Poems Nature Essays]

Better Essays
1782 words (5.1 pages)