The Holy Sonnets By making many references to the Bible, John Donne’s Holy Sonnets reveal his want to be accepted and forgiven by God. A fear of death without God’s forgiveness of sins is conveyed in these sonnets. Donne expresses extreme anxiety and fright that Satan has taken over his soul and God won’t forgive him for it or his sins. A central theme of healing and forgiveness imply that John Donne, however much he wrote about God and being holy, wasn’t such a holy man all of the time and tried to make up for it in his writing.
In sonnet 1, the speaker is talking to God. He tells God that his death is near. He feels that with all of the sins he has committed he is leaning towards hell instead of heaven. Satan has tempted him too much and he doesn’t know if he can even go an hour without giving in to Satan’s evil ways. The speaker asks God to give him wings so that he may ascend into heaven and prevent Satan from taking him to hell. There is a sense of manipulation in the speaker in the beginning of the sonnet. “Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?” In other words, “You’re making your own creation look bad if you don’t help me to become holy again.” This starts out the sonnet with a bitter tone, a favorable way for Donne to begin. But in the end, the speaker is pleading God to give him wings, ending the sonnet with a sense of desperation. The worried tone of the last few lines is a rather common one in the Holy Sonnets. It exhibits the recurring theme of fear and need for acceptance.
The speaker in sonnet 5 starts off by using the metaphor that he is a world. He is made craftily and “of an angelike sprite;” implying holiness. He then goes on to say that he has sinned and needs both parts of his world to be cleansed and renewed. He asks God to give him more seas, a world’s tears continuing the metaphor, to wash his sin away. Then the speaker makes a Bible...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document