John Donne: Poems

Donne's Worlds

Donne: Holy Sonnet V

(essay follows poem reproduced below)

I am a little world made cunningly

Of elements and an angelic sprite,

But black sin hath betray'd to endless night

My world's both parts, and oh both parts must die.

You which beyond that heaven which was most high

Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,

Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might

Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,

Or wash it, if it must be drown'd no more.

But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire

Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,

And made it fouler; let their flames retire,

And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal

Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.

In Donne's Holy Sonnet V, there is a clear contrast between the world that is Donne's personal sphere and the world that Donne is surrounded by, and over which he has no control. He makes clear that there is a distinction within his own world when he says ³My world's both parts,² but all that is known is that ³both parts must die.² There is an ambiguity surrounding these lines, for Donne defines his microcosm in terms of the greater world around him. His own world is composed of ³elements and an angelic sprite² but by stating outright that both parts of his world...

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