Holy Sonnet XII: Why Are We By All Creatures Waited On? by John Donne

This essay is based on scrutinizing the very famous holy sonnet composed by John Donne which is titled “Why are we by all creatures waited on?” It is quite clear how Donne digs with acute intelligence into the conceptual combat of simplicity versus complexity by comparing man to nature. The example used by Donne to create a contrast between simplicity and complexity is simply riveting. It is implied that nature is simple, while humankind is complex. Human beings cannot stay at rest because they have to always know more about everything surrounding them. They constantly preoccupy themselves with the process of exploration. In contrast, nature is relaxed and laid back. Nature does not fancy the idea of seeking new things or adopting new pathways. Everything in nature is following the same routine as it did since the beginning of the universe because it is quite content with where it stands. Donne is also seen using the contrasting concept of weakness, the analogy of two great creators, and the strong sense of self-pity to convey the principal message contained in this piece.

The concept of human weakness is very beautifully portrayed in this sonnet. First of all, Donne uses the phrase “Dissemble weakness” to catch the ignorance or adamancy of a bull which stands so foolishly and ignorantly in the way of a human being. At first glance, one may think that Donne is only attempting to describe the mighty strength and raging resolve of a sturdy animal, but a deeper analysis reveals a deeper story. Clearly, he does refer to the strength and perseverance of the bull, but he very shrewdly shoots two arrows in a single attempt by showing the relaxed aura enjoyed by nature. Nature, in this instance, is the calm of the bull in the face of danger. He equates the content of nature to the impressive composure of an animal. The bull remains so content and composed even when faced with the fear of death, while mankind is so restless and paranoid. Humankind, in contrast to nature, incessantly frets over what may happen in the future. This fear of the unknown condemns humankind to sorry weakness. This particular sonnet by Donne stands out among the rest of his sonnets because it discusses the idea of two creators. In this context, the last four lines of the poem are particularly interesting. The use of this phrase “their Creator” concentrates his belief in a proverbial second god, while the last two words, “hath died” show that this god of nature was not an ethereal entity, as is perceived by readers, but a mortal creature that lived and died just like a human being.

Concluding, the tone of the piece is a rather interesting insight into the philosophical mind of John Donne. It provides fresh insight into a great deal of self-pity and anguish which plagues the stance of the human race. His feelings about the complexities encountered by the human race and his relentless longing for the simplicity of nature, desire for freedom from fear and unsatisfied curiosity, and mankind’s obsession with divine judgment and eternal damnation are all too clear from this beautiful sonnet. The one-act play “Wit” is worth mentioning here because it tells the story of a woman, who just like the bull described by Donne in this sonnet, stands calmly and fiercely in the face of death. She bravely fights for life against cancer and directly stares into the eyes of death just like the bull in this sonnet. She loves Donne’s poetry and as calmly accepts her own end as keenly she always seems to crave more answers. Like nature, she knows when to let go, but as the human race, she is also afraid of what may happen afterwards.

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