How has Donne used characteristics typical of metaphysical poetry to convey his ideas in “Holy Sonnet: ‘This is my playes last scene’? ” This is my playes last scene is one of Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnets’ embodying spiritual pain and struggling faith in Christianity. Numerous biblical allusions and morbid tone that are typical of metaphysical poetry, convey Donne’s fear of death and religious scepticism. The opening four lines depict the last moments of the speaker’s life through metaphoric comparisons. The comparison “playes last scene” suggests the speaker is searching for an end that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Christian imagery in “pilgrimage’s last mile” places this envisioned end in religious context, as a pilgrimage to the site of treasured holy relics is representative of Donne’s path to unfaltering devotion, to God. A paradoxical phrase ‘idly, yet quickly run’ expresses the speaker’s hesitance on the way to achieving this believed end to life. The addition of the comparisons “p’s last inch” and “minute’s latest point” enhances the cumulative listing of comparisons and dramatises the speaker’s fear of death.
The startling personification “gluttonous death” portrays Donne’s morbid paranoia of the brief moment when body and soul become “unjoint”. The speaker’s life is dichotomised; his body shall “sleep a space”, his soul shall “see that face”, a Christian image of God’s omnipotence imparting judgement on the speaker. The ninth line witnesses a direct confidence in the speaker’s tone “as my soul, to heaven her first seat”. More prominently featured “So, fall my sins”, the immutable tone conveys a false reassurance, whereby the speaker actually pleas helplessly for God’s will and judgement.
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The imperative voice in “Impute me righteous” forcefully channels the persona’s imploration to receive God’s judgement and have so-called righteousness imputed. The precise word “impute” makes another religious reference to the Christian understanding of attributing unearned qualities in an act of grace. The finality of the sonnet is epitomised by the poetic triplet “the world, the flesh and devil”, which alludes to the three sinful temptations as it was known in the context of Donne’s time.
It enhances the prayer made by the speaker to be purged of sinful thoughts and acts, by godly intervention that would finally allow him to reach a transcendental state. Ultimately, Donne questions the Christian faith, and commands God’s mercy and judgement by Christian imagery and references to Biblical passages. He expresses despair about his salvation, and reveals his fear of death in a sensitive meditation. As such, the poem is an exemplary display of typical metaphysical characteristics.
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