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George Herbert and John Donnes Ideas About Religion During Their Poetic Times

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12 April 2010

This paper will compare and contrast George Herbert and John Donne's ideas towards God and Religion during their poetic times. Donne's poems usually consisted of ideas of love and romance but did express some of his ideas about religion in his Holy Sonnets. On the other hand, most of Herbert's poems that we covered in class consisted of religious themes. Both authors had a metaphysical style of poetry. This was Donne's style first and then Herbert followed. Herbert's mom was actually a patron and friend to John Donne so they were pretty closely linked. These two both used religious examples in their poetry to describe their beliefs and personal experiences but had different techniques in doing so.

John Donne wrote most of his poetry about love and romance. He later started using his personal feelings to express his thoughts on religion in his poetry. Donne writes about sin, grace, and redemption in his Holy Sonnets. He believes that the devil is lurking around every corner trying to tempt him and that he must turn to God so that he can resist temptation. He also turns to God when he needs to be purified for his sins. He believed that punishment was necessary for redemption. Fear and despair was a recurring theme in his work instead of hope and trust. He used his own personal turmoil to express how he thought one should do to avoid going to Hell. In Sonnet 10, Donne starts off the poem with "Batter my heart, three-personed God; for, you/ As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend" (Donne, Sonnet 10 Lines 1-2). Donne believes that God no longer lives in his heart and he wants him to come back into it. This is another example where Donne believes that punishment is needed for redemption. Donne's Holy Sonnets were very intense.

George Herbert was a very religious man and always included religion in his poetry. He had many poems that used simple examples to relate mankind to God. Two key examples of this are the poems "The Altar" and "The Pulley". Herbert was able to create many of his metaphors from everyday experiences. He compares life to a pulley in which he argues that there is a purpose to labor and suffering in human life. Herbert's poem "The Pilgrimage" is just about the Christian beliefs about life being a pilgrimage. His poems were easier to understand and the lines in his poems were shorter. His poems seemed to be instructive and gave examples of what to do. His poem, "Redemption" was a representation of the relationship between mankind and God. He used farmers to represent mankind and the land to be heaven. There is a struggle in his poetry between the world and how it needs to surrender to God. Herbert would also design his poetry in the same shapes

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