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Identify and define the literary of element (device) for "the glorious Lamp of Heaven,...

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djordan68 | eNoter

Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:46 PM via web

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Identify and define the literary of element (device) for "the glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun" in Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time."

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time," addresses the theme of "carpe diem," or "seize the day." In other words, the author addresses young virgins, urging them to live for today for tomorrow is uncertain, or suggesting that they live "life to the fullest."

Poems of this type, popular with Cavalier poets of the 18th Century, would often argue to this end, encouraging young women to surrender their virginity (generally to the author), for life was uncertain in the present state, and youth and beauty faded quickly.

The line you reference is found in the second stanza, lines 5-8. Within the context of the stanza, we find several literary devices (elements):

The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun,

The higher he’s a getting;

The sooner will his Race be run,

And neerer he’s to Setting.

The "Sun" is personified here. Personification gives human characteristics to non-human things and is a form of figurative language, or is also referred to as a figure of speech. Its definition is...

...a figure of speech in which abstractions, animals, ideas, and inanimate objects are endowed with human form, character, traits, or sensibilities.

Here, the Sun is described as running "his Race," referring to the sun's passage through the sky throughout the daylight hours. A person runs: the sun cannot.

The literary element most important to the comparison between the "Lamp of Heaven" and the "Sun" is the metaphor. (It also is an example of figurative language.) Basically, a metaphor compares two dissimilar things that share the same characteristics, presented as if they were the same, without using "like" or "as." A metaphor is defined as...

...a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to a person, idea, or object to which it is not literally applicable. It is an implied analogy or unstated comparison which imaginatively identifies one thing with another.

In the poem, the "Sun" is being compared to a lamp. While these two things are very different, both emit light that illuminates: the lamp may illuminate a room, a hall or even a pathway. On a much grander scale, the sun illuminates the face of the earth as it passes overhead. Both are also hot, and have the capacity to warm or burn. Neither the lamp or sun is the same, but each shares the same characteristics.

 

Additional Source:

http://www.enotes.com/literary-terms/personification

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