John Donne's Holy Sonnets by John Donne

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Setting and Character

A sense of place does not seem significant to the Holy Sonnets , but each does invoke a particular moment of time that is important to the speaker. These moments are related to the state of the speaker’s soul and cause him to speak, addressing a particular audience, who is usually God but is sometimes his soul, Christ, Death, or angels. As a result, the Holy Sonnets have a distinctly dramatic tone between speaker and audience, although the problems of the speaker are seldom resolved in the course of the poem. He frequently expresses his ardor for God through metaphors of sexual passion, demanding a relief attained only through physical pain that will purify him of his sins. In Sonnet 1, for example, the speaker opens by asking “Thou,” who is God, to “repair [him] now” for he “run[s] to death” and feels “terror” because of his sins. Only when...

(The entire section is 299 words.)