John Donne’s Holy Sonnets differ from his other poems because death is the emphasis in the Holy Sonnets, and love is the main focus in his other poems.
In these selections of poems, Donne is addressing Death in a personified form, and specifically in Sonnet 10. These poems were written during his illness and shortly before his death. Thus, a possibility lies that Donne wrote these poems as encouragement for himself before his death. Donne attends to his own fear by acknowledging that all die, yet he holds to his belief in after life. “You which beyond that heaven which was most high Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write”. (Donne, Holy Sonnets, Sonnet 5, lines 5-6). These two lines emphasize Donne’s belief that those who die are sent to heaven to live, as he we will go to the new lands where he can continue writing. Donne accepts the power and immensity of God as specified in Sonnet 9, “But who am I that dare dispute with thee O God? Oh, of thine only worthy blood”. (Donne, Holy Sonnets, Sonnet 9, lines 9-10)
In contrast, Donne’s earlier poems can be interpreted as poems of love and seduction. In the poem The Flea, Donne places the flea into tremendous meaning throughout the poem, attempting to seduce a woman into having sex with the unknown speaker. However, as the poem ends, and the flea’s death is meaningless as is the woman’s virginity, thus the speaker and the woman should make love. Also, Donne wrote of real love poems such as The Sun Rising in which he represents the love between the speaker and woman as the universe. “Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.” (Donne, The Sun Rising, lines 29-30). He gives significance to the woman as she is the states, and the speaker is the princes, and together they create their powerful universe.