What is the analysis of "The Living Temple" by Oliver Wendell Holmes?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Poetry analysis is purely subjective. What this means is that it is up to the reader of the poem to define the poem's content in regards to the way it supports a readers understanding of what the poem is about. This includes the reader's appreciation of the poem based upon their personal interpretation.

As for the poem The Living Temple by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the poem beautifully blends imagery of nature with the ideology of Christianity. Holmes' "living temple" is the earth itself. The description of the earth as the living temple is immaculately described. The second stanza reminds readers about the perfect world God has created.

The smooth, soft air with pulse-like waves Flows murmuring through its hidden caves, Whose streams of brightening purple rush, Fired with a new and livelier blush, While all their burden of decay The ebbing current steals away, And red with Nature’s flame they start From the warm fountains of the heart.
The poem, overall, seems to be a mixture of a song of praise and a prayer. The speaker wishes to let God know that regardless of what he (the speaker, assumed to be male based upon Holmes' gender) faces in life, he knows that God is in control. The speaker, in the end, is essentially "giving all to God."
O Father! grant thy love divine To make these mystic temples thine!
In the end, the entire poem flows beautifully. The words are chosen to provide a very specific picture and elicit a very specific mood in the reader.

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