Comparison of John Donne’s Batter My Heart and George Herbert’s The Collar essay

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John Donne and George Herbert were the representatives of the metaphysical poetry, though they were different in style and some writing techniques. Both poets had their examples of religious poetry and now the task is to compare two religious poems of the mentioned writers: Batter My Heart by John Donne and The Collar by George Herbert.

These poems have similar meaning as both speakers struggle with faith and eventually submit to the God. Thus, the poem Batter My Heart begins with the speaker’s desire to be made new by the Lord. Then he describes his sin and claims that he has become God’s enemy and feels as if he is engaged to Satan. Finally, the man admits that he would never be free unless God made him free. 

The main character of the Collar is also a man who needs God, but at the same he does not realize such a necessity. He expresses desire to become free of God. He was obedient during his life but now he is sure that he wasted merry times and wants to enjoy all its pleasures. One may say that the collar is the symbol of servitude and the main desire of the poet is to become free.

Speaking about the symbolism of the poems, it need’s to be mentioned that in The Collar fruit, wine and corn symbolize freedom while the collar is the symbol of servitude and dependence. In Batter My Heart the author compares himself to a town, which is a symbol of captured personality who is lost and confused.

Although poems have similar meaning, they differ in vocabulary and emotion. In Batter My Life the language is very rich and represented by the paradoxes, implied by the author (“nor ever chaste, except you ravish me”). In The Collar George Herbert uses puns. The word “collar” may mean either a clerical collar or a band to chain animals.

Style of the poets is different as well. While Donne uses such words which are to be read slowly and emotionally (“break, blow, burn”, “heart, Three-person’d God”, etc.), Herbert’s lines are abrupt and simple (“away, take heed”, “I will abroad”). The language influences the general tone of the poetry and while Donne pays attention to the words and readers try to listen, Herbert shows his ideas and makes us feel.

Thus, the compared religious poems have similar meaning and ideas, but at the same time they are completely different in style, vocabulary and symbolism.

Comparison of John Donne’s The Flea and Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell and John Donne both belong to metaphysical poets, who were famous by there shocking and sincere language and writing about great problems such as love, life and sex. Let us compare two seduction poems, written by these writers, namely The Flea by John Donne and To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell.

Both of the poems are about expressing the feeling of love through sex. In John Donne’s poem the speaker sees a flea, which eventually beats him and his woman. The speaker is sure that there is nothing wrong about the fact that their blood is mixed inside the insect and such a mixture symbolizes their love. Finally, when the woman kills it and nothing happens, the man admits that the woman has nothing to fear from having sex with him. In To His Coy Mistress the man tries to persuade a virgin to have sex as well. He explains her that it is important to do this before the death until they have enough time.

As it is seen, sex is the major theme in both poems, but at the same time we may notice the theme of marriage in The Flea and the themes of time and mortality in To His Coy Mistress. All these ideas are represented through the symbols. Thus, the flea may be considered to be a symbol of the world and her blood is the symbol of people’s lives. The little insect is depicted as something great and monumental. In Marvell’s poem the major symbol is the sun, which reminds people about the time and the fact that all people will die sooner or later.

Being the examples of seduction poetry, To His Coy Mistress is written in the style of a dramatic monologue and its tone is generally serious and thoughtful as the speaker tells about important things:

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life.

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

The Flea, on the contrary, has simple language and rhyme, but in general the speaker seems to be very smart and chooses the words carefully. It is obvious that he wants the woman to think that he is a serious man, who is looking not for a one-night stand. He changes his minds several times and this fact makes the tone of the whole poem to be positive.

While there are many examples of seduction poetry in the literature, John Donne’s The Flea and Andrew Marvel’s To His Coy Mistress are considered to be the most famous ones. They have much in common, as they have similar themes, style and tone. Both poems are good examples of metaphysical poetry and have all its characteristic features.

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