Living on the Dash

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Submitted By daweldermann
Words 1186
Pages 5
Living on the Dash
Will the life you’ve lived on your short “-“(dash) speak for itself when the sun sets? In John Donne’s Hymn to God, My God, In My Sickness, the poet speaks to both the Lord and the reader as he lies on his death bed. Donne has been fine tuning himself for the triumph in Heaven. He admits that he has had both good and bad in his life, but asks the Lord to seek the good in him and embrace his soul. There is a direct correlation with the life you live here on Earth and with the next (afterlife). Donne is both the narrator and the character of this poem. He speaks of his experiences as he nears death. He realizes death is eminent, and he will soon rejoice with the “choirs of saints” (Donne line 2) in Heaven, but wonders what would he do when he reaches Heaven. Donne’s writing style of metaphysics is used in this poem and in several others. The narrator has an extensive interest in religion, cartography and geography. It is no wonder he shows interest in these areas as it was during this time in European civilization that they experienced the “New Age of Discovery”. There were explorations of new land; the replacing of the Ptolemaic model of an Earth-centered universe with Copernicus’s heliocentric (Sun-centered) model; the invention of Mariner’s compass; and various other developments and reformations. He writes,
“...Whilst my physicians by their love are grown/ Cosmographers and I their map” (7)
He equates his body to a map and his physicians to cosmographers. His physicians have studied the “map” and have pointed him in a south-westerly position. The Sun rising in the east denotes birth and resurrection, and death as the Sun’s setting in the west. His illness has positioned him in direction facing the sunset. Donne references a Latin phrase: “Per fretum febris” (10) which is defined as the straits of fever. He is suffering from fever…...

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