A Hymn to Christ Analysis by John Donne | Stanza by Stanza

A Hymn to Christ Analysis by John Donne Stanza by Stanza

A keen analysis of “A Hymn to Christ” helps us to find the form of the poem, which is a dramatic monologue. The majority of John Donne’s poems are based on this simple yet remarkable technique. Donne’s poetry is divided into two main categories; love poems and divine poems. In fact, it is the journey of John Donne to move from worldly love to divinity. In his love poems, he focuses on the relationship between him and his beloved. Thus, the love poetry of John Donne is about worldly affairs. Much later, he realized that original success is in religion; therefore, he tried his best to find peace in it and to some extent, he found it. In “A Hymn to Christ” John Donne compares worldly love to spiritual love and concludes that spiritual love is far better and purer than worldly love.

Click here to read the actual poem from Wikipedia instead of a critical analysis of “A Hymn to Christ”.

Thematic Analysis of “A Hymn to Christ”:

John Donne, in “A Hymn to Christ”, demonstrates the theme of death and the life hereafter. He also talks about separation. When John Donne was preparing for a sea voyage, he wrote this poem. He realized that the ship, which he was going to travel might wreck in the sea and the journey of his new life would be started; however, he had no fear of death because he had a strong faith in Christ. As compared to “A Hymn to God”, this poem is not about asking for forgiveness and mercy; instead, Donne has put different things in juxtaposition. For instance, he compares worldly love to spiritual love; similarly, he compares mortal life to eternal life. It is worth mentioning that this poem has a religious theme yet it is universal. It is because Donne puts the truth in front of his readers.

A Hymn to Christ Analysis by John Donne | Stanza by Stanza

Stanza-I Analysis:

If we made an analysis of the first stanza of “A Hymn to Christ” then we come to the conclusion that the poet has a strong belief in his Protector. Although he cannot see Him yet he knows that He is always with him. Of course, John Donne is talking about Christ. He can save him from any disaster. The poet cannot see his Savior but he has feelings that He is protecting him with His indefinite powers. Thus, this poem is actually praise. “Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood” is the best line of this stanza. The poet has summarised the whole truth in this line. He compares the sea with the sacred blood of Christ, which He shed for the whole of humanity.

Stanza-II Analysis of “A Hymn to Christ”:

Religiously speaking, a person cannot find the true love of Christ until he loves Him more than he loves any other person in the world. The poet has realized this thing; therefore, he is telling Him that he is ready to sacrifice everything in front of the true love of Christ. The poet has committed sins but he knows that his sins have already been redeemed. Now, the poet is free from any fear as he has found true love. The last line of the stanza convinces us to prefer spiritual love to worldly love “Of true Love, I may know”.

Stanza-III Analysis:

Analysis of the third stanza of “A Hymn to Christ” enriches the arguments of the poet regarding success in the eternal world. Many people prefer the love of God or Christ to worldly love. What Donne wants is the love of Christ in the next world. The same love which he has for Christ in this life. After his death, he wants His company. Moreover, he prays that his heart is moulded towards religion. If Christ does not care about Donne’s heart then it means that He does not love him. To summarise, the third stanza of the poem is about the equality of love.

Stanza IV Analysis:

The poet has spent a joyful life but he does not consider it useful. True life is that, which is spent for religion; for getting the love of Christ. An autobiographical analysis of Donne’s life reveals that Donne wants true love from a woman but now from “A Hymn to Christ”, it seems that he has altered his thinking entirely. Now, he does not want the loyalty of any woman but loyalty in his love towards Christ. Donne has focused on spirituality in this stanza. In past, he might have had love affairs but he did not want them anymore. What he wants is everlasting peace, which is only available in spirituality.

To sum up the whole poem, it is true that John Donne is the best poet not only of his era but also of every era. This sonnet is a remarkable example of the wit of John Donne. He has a solid faith in his religion. He strengthens it while praising God and Christ. This fact has come to his knowledge that this world would give him nothing; the eternal world is everything and in order to get success in the perpetual world, he needs the support of Christ. Hence, the poet, in this poem, appeals to Christ that his soul is freed from worldly love. He wishes to see God, so he chooses the eternal darkness of death.

Related Questions:

  • Donne’s approach to God and Christ is actually rational and equally emotional. Discuss.