What is a critical analysis of "The Day of Judgement" by Jonathan Swift?

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The poem “The Day of Judgement” was written by Jonathan Swift. It describes the poet’s vision of the Day of Judgement, the day when all people must come before God and take responsibility for their actions. Therefore, it may well be that Swift was inspired by a biblical quote when writing his poem: “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The author’s message in the poem is clear: all men must die, and all men will have to stand trial for their actions in the face of God. Therefore, the poem could well be interpreted as a warning to society: we should not become too complacent, and we must ensure that we lead a life that pleases God. Otherwise, we risk God's wrath: “I damn such fools! — Go, go, you're bit."

In order to bring this message across, the poet describes vividly how the dead come back to life in order to receive their verdict. In particular, the line “I saw the graves give up their dead” adds a very scary and almost spooky feel to this description, successfully setting the scene for what is going to be a very unpleasant experience for mankind. The poet wants to remind his readers that the Day of Judgement will come eventually and that everybody will find themselves very scared when it happens: “the world stands trembling at his throne!”

The poem is written in an iambic tetrameter, which means that there are eight syllables in each line, with every second syllable carrying the stress: “I sunk from reverie to rest.” In this line, for example, the fact that “sunk” and “rest” carry the stress clearly links back to the poet’s message: death will come; it can’t be avoided.

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