Language and tone in Hymn to God, my God

Language of geography

The language is inevitably somewhat technical, based on a good grasp of geography. We may think it strange that a dying man should play around with such ideas, but if we think of the strength of our own ‘inner maps', and how we visualise them, we should not be surprised. Donne, as both poet and preacher, would naturally think in images and examples.

Language of the Bible

The language is fairly dense in biblical references, hardly surprising in someone who was a leading clergyman and preached regularly. Here he is preaching to himself and the tone is subdued but confident. ‘I joy,' he says. Only at the end does he address God: ‘Looke Lord and find ...', but it is a confident address, unlike that in some of the Holy Sonnets.

Investigating Hymn to God, my God

  • Compare and contrast Hymn to God, my God and the sonnet What if this present ...?
    • What particularly do you notice in the differences of tone?
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