Language and tone in Twicknam Garden

The language of Twicknam Garden is full of the cruelty of spring, as is T.S.Eliot's famous twentieth century poem The Waste Land.

  • ‘Blasted' gives a typical dramatic opening to the poem, halfway between a swear word and an explosion. In older English, a ‘blasted heath', as at the opening of Shakespeare's Macbeth, suggests a scrubby place where little grows.

Interwoven language

Judas betrays Jesus with a kissThe language of nature interweaves with the religious language. For example, ‘selfe traytor' may just echo another garden scene in the Bible, the Garden of Gethsemane scene where Judas betrays Jesus (Mark 14:42-44). The tone of self-accusation is more typical of some of Donne's religious poems.

Notice the pun in ‘grave frost', and the suggestion of ‘stone', leading the reader to think that it is his tombstone Donne is talking about. After all, he is being ‘killed' by her truth, a hyperbole we all tend to use about an unhappy relationship.

Investigating Twicknam Garden
  • In stanza two, there is a variant reading for ‘nor leave this garden'. Some versions have ‘nor yet leave loving'.
    • Which do you prefer?
    • Why?
  • Look at the language of appearance and reality; and of truth and falsity.
    • Pick out some of the phrases Donne uses.
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