John Donne and George Herbert essay

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John Donne and George Herbert have been known over the years as excellent metaphysical English poets. For instance, their poems Batter My Heart and The Collar respectively highlight the poet’s struggle with their faith and different conflicts before submitting to the Lord at the end. The most striking contrasts in these poems can be seen in terms of the styles and the vocabulary employed by the Donne and Herbert. These contrasts are significant because they depict some level of difference in the approach taken by these writers. The contrasts also depict the willingness of both Donne and Herbert to make an impression to their readers and facilitate the understanding of their poems.

This essay explicates the most striking contrasts between Donne’s Batter My Heart and Herbert’s The Collar.

The first most striking contrasts between these two poems can be seen in terms of the vocabulary employed. It is significant to note that Donne employs the use of paradoxes in the last two sentences of the poem. For instance, Donne asserts, “Except you enthrall, never shall I be free” (Matheikal 29). This assertion is vital because it brings out the true nature of human beings which is prone to forces such as sin and righteousness. Therefore, human beings can only be free from Satan in cases where they decide to become God’s slaves. Another paradox highlighted by Donne is, “….no ever chaste, except you ravish me” (Shell 67). This assertion indicates the strong impression that Donne wanted to make to readers concerning religion.  On the other hand, Herbert focuses on the use of puns in The Collar unlike Donne’s use of paradoxes. A key instance of pun usage can be seen in the title itself. For instance, the word “collar” can be understood as the chain used to tie animals or the clerical collar used to identify priests. This title could also be rewritten as “The Calling” that God makes to bring people back to His side (Matheikal 47).

The other striking contrast between the two poems is the style employed by Donne and Herbert. In Batter My Heart, Donne employees the use of words that are supposed to be read slowly and in an emphatic manner. For instance, he asserts, “Three-person’d God,” to get the meaning of the trinity sink among individuals in a stressful manner. More so, he employs the use of alliteration to reiterate the meaning being presented (Matheikal 66). He asserts, “…break, blow, burn,” to emphasize the message of the poem. Notably, Donne employs these styles to emphasize the meaning of the title Better My Heart and bring out the strong sense of submission to God among human beings. On the other hand, Herbert uses a rhythm that resembles the intended ideas instead of using a rhythm that that resembles the sound of words onomatopoeically. For example, Herbert emphasizes his ideas with the assertion, “…all wasted…..I will abroad” (Shell 79). This is to emphasize the idea that there is need to submit to God at the end of everything. These different styles are vital as they help both Donne and Herbert drive their intended point home.

In conclusion, Donne’s Batter My Heart and Herbert’s The Collar differ significantly in terms of the styles used and the vocabulary employed by these writers to bring out the expected ideas. While Donne employs the use of paradoxes, Herbert uses puns to reiterate the meaning of the poem and the manner in which the characters submit to God at the end. Additionally, they use different styles to also reiterate the message of the poems. The key idea presented in both poems is the struggle with faith before the ultimate submission to the power of God among characters.

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