Theme of DEATH - Hymn to God my God, in my Sickness - John Donne


"Poets approach death in fear" In light on this statement, show how poets explore the theme of death.  

In 'Hymn to God my God, in my Sickness', the speaker presents his uncertainty and anxiety towards death 


  • Difference in form regarding the topic - contrast to the Holy Sonnets. Suggests different feelings towards religion/death - a settled feeling, rather than the restraining sonnet form.
  • Even stanzas, calm sense, life in order

desperation in reaching heaven 

  • "I am", "I shall", "I come", "I tune", "I must" 
  • repeated "I" pronoun with different actions  - shows desperation to get to heaven
  • AO3ii: alternatively mental preparation for heaven, perhaps not ready, list of things to do = anxiety/fear but also certainty in what he has to do 
  • heightened by "tune the instrument" - awareness that he must "tune" his soul to reach heaven, +ve imagery however, sem. field of music “choir”, “music”
  • AO4: According to Izaac Walton, this poem was written eight days before Donne’s death in 1631; another contemporary witness, however, dates it in December 1623 when Donne was seriously ill. The poem is a preparation for death, which is perhaps welcomed rather than feared. 
  • Imperatives "Look lord", "find", "receive me" - desperation to know his fate/get to heaven, highlights uncertainty about afterlife and perhaps fear of no heaven?

Conceit of body as map, semantic field of journey to show the uncertainty of where his illness will take him 

  • "I their map" - "flat" ext.


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