The analysis of the profane and sacred in john donne's poems "the...

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The analysis of the profane and sacred in john donne's poems "the flea" and "holy sonnet 14"

By | October 2007
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John Donne who is considered to be one of the wittiest poets of the seventeenth century writes the metaphysical poem "The Flea" and the religious poem "Holy Sonnet 14". In both poems, Donne explores the two opposing themes of physical and sacred love; in his love poem "The Flea," he depicts the speaker as an immoral human being who is solely concerned with pleasing himself, where as in his sacred poem "Holy Sonnet 14" Donne portrays the speaker as a noble human being because he is anxious to please God. In the book The Divine Poems, writer Helen Gardner supports this fact as she argues, "His Maker is more powerfully present to the imagination in his divine poems than any mistress is in his love poems" (Pg-2). Overall, it seems that both these poems operate on many different levels as the rhyme scheme in both poems varies from iambic tetrameter and pentameter to the Petrarchan sonnet form. Donne employs wit as well as complex paradoxes, which are symbolic of the strong opposing drives at play in his poetry, and abstract conceits to further complicate the subject matter in both his poems. This is evident to the reader as in "The Flea" Donne presents the notion of carnal love through religious expressions, where as in "Holy Sonnet 14" he depicts the notion of divine love through sexual expressions. Hence, Donne does an excellent job in revealing the fact that in "The Flea," the speaker appears to be arrogant, selfish, and disrespectful towards women. He is self absorbed and only cares about fulfilling his sexual fancy, while the speaker in "Holy Sonnet 14" comes across as a humble human being, who is worried about pleasing God. John Donne deliberately makes his metaphysical love poem "The Flea" light-hearted by using humour to explore the issue of premarital sex. Donne begins the poem by introducing the image of a flea, which represents the notion of carnal love. This is evident to the reader in the opening few lines of the poem as the speaker states "Mark...