Weaving Together Wit: Striking Similarities in “The Canonization” and Sonnet 55 College
William Shakespeare’s 55th Sonnet and John Donne’s “The Canonization” are both poems that possess the same themes, anxieties, and cultural practices, thus illuminating the two poets’ experiences in early modern Britain. According to Sasha Roberts, “’wit’ in the early modern period denoted ingenuity, intelligence, imagination, and verbal prowess and was arguably the most highly valued in literary faculty—more so than originality or authenticity. Shakespeare’s Sonnets demonstrate wit in abundance, not least in [their] deft use of paradox, conceit (an ingenious comparison often turning on unexpected or contrary states), imagery, and wordplay” (Roberts 179). Through their musings about love and artistic identity, these two poets used paradox, conceit, imagery, and wordplay to create provocative poems that ask profound questions - only to show the ridiculousness of (or lack of) any answer.
Sonnet 55 is a famous Shakespearean poem that considers artistic identity, love, and passing time as it seeks answers that only lead to paradoxical conclusions and more questions. The surface narrative of the poem suggests that the speaker simply wants to immortalize his beloved friend in verse, instead of immortalizing himself as a poet (which is...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 822 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6118 literature essays, 1718 sample college application essays, 245 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in