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Holy Sonnet 7 - A Historical/Topical Approach

Holy Sonnet 7 - A Historical/Topical Approach

As if Thou hadst sealed my pardon with Thy blood” ends a poem written by a man torn between an obsession with death and a true understanding of the afterlife. Caught up in man’s oldest paradox, John Donne creatively expresses his reverence for God through poetry in his Holy Sonnet 7: At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners (Donne). Being raised a devout Pentecostal, I clearly recognize that by bringing together events predicted in the book of Revelations and the power of prayer, Donne evokes in his reader the need to repent for their soul’s sake. The purpose of this paper is to do a topical/historical analysis of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 7: At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners.

Holy Sonnet 7 was written in London, England sometime in the late 1590’s to early 1600’s, the exact date it was penned remains a mystery. Its publication, dated 1633, reveals it posthumously, so information regarding Donne’s works can only be found in records which vary and even contrast at times. On it’s way to becoming the biggest city in Europe, London’s population was booming. “During this period, the city was the center of a tremendous expansion in trade, colonization, and finance.” “London was also the center of the English cultural Renaissance, particularly in literature, with major figures such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare” (London, VII, C). With the turmoil that surrounded the secular sect, many artists were continuously changing the very face of civilization.

The famous English Renaissance took place between 1580 and 1660 (English Lit., IV, B). As society “increased in size and prosperity, the populations became more diverse with different social classes that varied in background and power” (Renaissance, IV, B). The Roman Catholic Church was rapidly declining spurring the growth of “many humanists” who “hoped to reform Christian society by relying on education rather than on religious faith” (Renaissance, VI, B). Humanism – “the dominant intellectual monument of the Renaissance”, included disciplines such as: “grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and ethics”. This “conflicted directly” with the “traditional scholasticism”, which “concentrated on the study of logic, natural philosophy (science), and metaphysics, or the nature of reality” (Renaissance, VII). Much of the literature written during this era “was the result of a remarkable outburst of energy” (English Lit., VI, B). Many artistic contributors, including William Shakespeare, continue to affect various aspects of art even...

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Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,184 words)

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