Language and tone in Ascension - Hymn

Alliteration and oxymoron

The language of light and shade, captivity and freedom in Ascension – Hymn relates directly to the imagery. There are other language features that are worth noting. The alliteration in stanza 4 is an obvious example. ‘High humility' is also an oxymoron- we normally associate humility with ‘low'. The j- alliteration in the next stanza is dramatic in that it is applied to death.

Obsolete language

Some of the language Vaughan uses no longer have quite the same meaning: ‘glass' means mirror here, for example. ‘Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall' means little to the modern reader, though Vaughan was using everyday language of the time. ‘Thrall' means bondage or slavery; ‘resume' means ‘take back'.

Investigating Ascension - Hymn
  • Consider the language and tone of Ascension - Hymn
    • Do you think this could be sung?
    • To what extent does the mode of expression of stanza 6 resemble the poetry of George Herbert rather than the rest of this poem?
    • How would you describe the poem's tone?
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