Donne's View of Death in Meditation Xvii

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DONNE’S VIEW OF DEATH IN MEDITATION XVII

The stylistic features filled with nature imagery and florid ornament during the Elizabethan Age disappeared after the Queen’s death and the poems during the reigns of James I and Charles I came to be concentrated on colloquial and plain style. The main difference was that poetry was no longer romantic. Poets like John Donne became to be known as ‘metaphysical poets’. The term ‘metaphysical’ refers to the use of intellectual and theological concepts in conceits, paradoxes and far-fetched imagery as Donne himself did in Meditation XVII, where he accounts for his view of death. Donne’s was born in a devout Roman Catholic household and therefore, it could be said that his view of death was based on the belief of life after death. In addition, he claims that one should be aware of death and not fear it for ‘perchance he for whom this bell tolls’ implying that through God’s translators you are to realize when the bell tolls for one self. ‘God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice ( … ).’ It could be remarked that he explains that God brings death to one’s attention through his translators so that one can be aware of his coming death and understand that death is part of the cycle. As a Roman Catholic, he feels a member of mankind so whenever anyone dies, he feels that death concerns him as well a baptism because that is how he connects with God, meaning that ‘all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.’ He believes in God as the creator of mankind and for him people are a volume in God’s book and with death a chapter becomes a better one. Moreover, it can be understood that death is related to a collective event, involving all humanity because ‘no man is an island’. Last but not least, Donne asserts that one should consider the death of the others so as...
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