John Donne: Poems

Movement in John Donne’s Holy Sonnet I College

In his nineteen holy sonnets, John Donne contemplates his mortality, and explores themes of divine love and judgment along with his deep personal troubles. In the first loosely Petrarchan holy sonnet “Thou hast made me”, Donne presents a hopeless situation in which death and hell loom in front of the speaker due to his sins, and God’s grace is the only way through which he can be saved. The poem is focused on the speaker’s inescapable bond to death, his increasing desperation in fear of his fall to hell, and his plea towards God to help him. There is extensive use of movement, both of the speaker’s physical circumstance and the poem’s technical aspects, which reflects the situation and creates the tension in the poem. In Holy Sonnet I, Donne uses movement in the poem’s structure and the subject to depict the speaker’s entrapment and God’s role in the outcome to his predicament.


Donne’s Holy Sonnet 1 is chilling in the proximity the reader feels to the speaker’s situation. The sonnet is written in first person, which, in addition to the vivid imagery and dramatic speeds at which the poem moves, creates for the reader a more intimate experience with such impending death. The poem is composed of an octave and a sestet. In the...

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