Compare the ways in which the poets express strength of feeling in "Spring" and "Holy Sonnet 10"

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Francesca Selway


Compare the ways in which the poets express

 strength of feeling in “Spring” and “Holy Sonnet 10

Spring”, written by Gerard Manley-Hopkins, employs the ideas of the beauty of the season. Manley-Hopkins introduces references to his faith, portraying a religious approach. The feelings experienced within the sonnet are very intense, and the reader becomes progressively more engrossed amid the lines of the sonnet, as the poet delves into the peril that spring might be spoiled, and the innocence of youth might be lost. Manley-Hopkins addresses the Lord, in the hope that all sinning might cease forever, and hence the beauty of the season of spring might be maintained eternally.

Holy Sonnet 10”, written by John Donne, similarly refers to the poet’s faith. The strength of the feeling shown here is colossal, as Donne challenges to address Death as a coward. The sonnet is powerful, as Donne dares to think Death to be weak and feeble. The poet is so confident within his faith of God, and his apparent belief in the afterlife, that he is self assured that no harm will come to him from this one vain beast. Death will eventually be overcome; it is nothing to fear. The poet’s feelings are vivid, and dangerous, and the reader is thrown into a reverie of shadows as such immoral thoughts are taken in.

Spring”, a Petrarchan sonnet, contains an octave, which sets the scene of the ultimate beauty of spring, followed by a concluding sestet, revealing its real imperfections. Just as Adam and Eve committed original sin, resulting in the Garden of Eden being ruined, Manley-Hopkins declares that spring itself will, in time, be ruined if we continue to sin. With great feeling, the poet begs God to save the innocence of youth, and cease all wrongdoing, to preserve our glorious paradise that is spring.

Run-on lines allow the real energy of spring to emerge, forcing the reader to scan their eyes over the words at an increasing acceleration, causing tremendous excitement and rush. As the rows continue in this way, the sonnet is effectively more fluent to read.

Holy Sonnet 10” is a Shakespearean sonnet, yet with a slight variation in the rhyming scheme. The first, second and third quatrains introduce and develop the idea that Death is no great threat to man, as once it is overcome, man will live for all eternity with God, safe from all harm. Death is a coward, and holds no real seniority; it is certainly not to be feared. The third quatrain offers a great list of reasons of why Death is not in control, but in fact, man is. “And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell”. Death uses cowardly methods to try and harm a person, but it is all in vain, as man controls Death. Man will overcome Death. When a person has a fatal accident, it is the fault and chance of man, not the decision of Death. Death can often be man’s decision anyway! When a person commits suicide, it is his or her own resolution to do so, not Death’s.

The final couplet resolves the argument; the poet stating the Death is merely one short sleep before waking eternally in heaven with God. Death will then be finished with, for when a person dies, they will worry no longer. Death is nothing to be feared.

Donne also uses paradox in the concluding couplet, by declaring, “Death, thou shalt die”. This quotation is self-contradictory, for Death is usually the killer, and it seems impossible for it to actually die. As soon as people reach those pearl gates of heaven, they are no longer subject to Death, for Death is no more; Death has died.

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Gerard Manley-Hopkins uses many figures of speech in his sonnet, “Spring” as he likens the beauty of the season to the Garden of Eden, one of the first beauties on this earth, created by God.

Using alliteration, the poet has employed great feeling as he attempts to tell the world to look after their planet. He desperately wants to save the splendour of spring, and keep the season just as attractive for the future generations. He begs God to preserve this last luxury, and stop man from sinning. The reader can feel the poet’s pain as his philosophies ...

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