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Holy Sonnet #10

Characteristics of the Metaphysical Poets

One was wit. Dr. Samuel Johnson gave this group, or ‘school,’ its name, and provided this
definition for its wit. The Metaphysical Poets had: "...a kind of discordia concours; [meaning] a
combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of [spiritual] resemblances in things apparently unlike."
These poets wanted to contribute their view of the importance of spiritual connections between things in
new ways, using new turns of phrase. Their topics were the “more important than physical”, or “better than
physical” things in the world. Their favorites were love, time, death, man’s relationship to the world around
him. Some were influenced by a philosophy called Neo-Platonism, reviving Plato’s idea that the things (or
relationships between things) you see in this world resemble the perfect ideal way things should be that
exists somewhere in the Universe.

1. What are at least two metaphysical elements found in the poem?

2. In “Holy Sonnet 10,” what conclusion can you draw about the
speaker’s opinion of death and the way it affects people?
Support your opinion with references to the poem.

3. Identify a passage from “Holy Sonnet 10” that contains a

paradox about death.

4. Write a paraphrase of Holy Sonnet #10, BUT…don’t do it in a line

by line fashion. Paraphrase each individual clause (the parts
between commas) instead. Begin paraphrasing, only stopping
your paraphrase when you reach punctuation – not just the end
of a line of poetry. The way a sonnet has to be written, if you
focus ONLY on what is contained in a single line, there is much
meaning that might be lost when the clause keeps going on the
next line.

Parts taken from

"Unit Resources." Prentice Hall Literature Georgia. Prentice Hall, n.d. Web. 15 Feb.
2011. <>.