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"What you do in life echoes in eternity" - Gon_b

Physical Mortality - a Demonstration of Two Sonnets

  • Date Submitted: 01/09/2011 01:50 AM
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The physical mortality versus the mental immortality – A demonstration of two sonnets
William Shakespeare and John Donne, two of the greatest British culture poets, dealt among other issues, with the passing of time and human mortality.
In Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare, the speaker asks to compare his beloved to a summer's day, yet the lover is more lovely and stable. Sometimes there are rough winds in the summer, it's a short season, and the sun is periodically too hot or is often obscured by clouds. Although beauty will not cease forever, either by misfortune or by nature, the lover will always stay young and beautiful. Even though the sonnet can be interpreted as a love song to a female, many scholars contend that it is addressed to a young man. The speaker weaves the lifelines of his lover with those of the sonnet; thus as long as people live and enjoy the poem, the lover will forever remain fresh and handsome.
In Holy Sonnet 10 by John Donne, the speaker teases death. He personifies it and claims it's not as mighty and dreadful as people might think. Death doesn't overthrow people – they're purely asleep. The idea of death as a form of sleeping reminds me of Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party. She describes a dead young man who is calmly sleeping in his bed, given away to his eternal dreams, distant from everyday's trifles. He will forever remain wonderful and beautiful.
Despite the rotten flesh and dry bones, the soul remains free. I dare comparing this notion to Milton's freedom of mind in Paradise Lost. I would like to suggest that the soul, like the mind, is eternal and borderless. It doesn't matter where one stays, whether in heaven or hell, as long as he's the master of his own mind and soul.
The poet despises death. He claims that death is dependent. It is a slave who depends on others deeds: fate, chance, kings, desperate man, poison, war and sickness. Again, I would dare comparing the notion of death in war to Gulliver's description of the...


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