‘THIS IS MY PLAYES LAST SCENE’<br />Donne<br />
Summary<br />The speaker compares his life to a play or a pilgrimage or a race that is about to end. Death will tear his body from his soul, and his body will sleep a while. However, his soul will be called to judgement by God. He prays that his soul may fly to heaven, his body lie quietly in the earth, and his sins go to hell – this will allow him to leave behind evil (‘the world, the flesh and devill’) and reach eternal life as a person made ‘righteous’ by God.<br />
A Holy Sonnet<br />http://youtu.be/GcdOPcOUNAY<br />
Context<br />This poem uses a lot of traditional Christian imagery. The pilgrimage to a place where a saint’s relics were kept, or to Rome or the Holy Land, was a very popular practice in the Middle Ages. ‘That face’ is God’s face, passing judgement on the soul (‘my’ever-waking part’). ‘Impute’ is a reference to the doctrine that Christ’s merit is ‘imputed’ to humans in order to restore them to righteousness in God’s eyes. In Christian tradition, the world, the flesh and the devil were considered the three major causes of temptation to sin.<br />Locate more direct references to the Bible or Christian religious teaching, what influenced Donne the most, his Christian beliefs or experience of death?<br />
Is it a poem that expresses confidence, or is that confidence undermined by anxiety?<br /><ul><li>The listing of ‘last’ events, with the repetition of ‘last.
The contrast between the horrifying image of ‘gluttonous death’ unjointing the body and the result: ‘I shall sleepe a space.’
The contrast between the ‘ever-waking part’ seeing God’s face and the following line ‘Whose feare already shakes my every joint.’
Structure: The effect of the long line opening the sestet which suggests confidence that his soul will actually fly directly to heaven, followed by the spiralling downward movement to earth, and hell.
The implied confidence of the statements ‘Then, as my soule… takes flight… So, fall my sinnes… For thus I leave…’
The force of the imperative ‘Impute me righteous’: is this a command or a plea? Can a human command God?
The effect of the rhymes of the last three lines ending the poem with the images of hell, evil and the devil?</li></ul>Analysis<br />
Perspective<br />Morbid<br />A prayer<br />The sonnet is basically a Petrarchan one, with octave and sestet. The rhyming couplet at the end is more typical of a Shakespearean sonnet, however. It gives a clinching feel to the poem.<br />
Do we fear death? (please quote using the spelling we have!)<br />