Mystical Representation of Death in the Poetry of John Donne and Abul-Alaa Al-Ma’arri: A Comparative Study

Amatulhafeez Alvi(1*), Rahma Alvi(2), Ateqa Abdul Rahim Alvi(3),

(1) King Khalid University
(2) King Khalid University
(3) Minhaj University
(*) Corresponding Author



Abstract. This paper is a comparative descriptive investigation of the mystical representation of death in the poetry of the English poet John Donne and the Arabic poet AbulAlaa Al-Ma’arri. Highlighting their life circumstances and the religious, intellectual, economic and psychological factors that shaped their specific perceptions of Death, the study reflects upon the mystic elements in both poets’ approach towards Death and delves deeper into the language they adopted to express their insights. The death poetry of both poets has been previously studied from different individual perspectives, but none has approached it comparatively from a mystical stylistic viewpoint. Using the major echelons of mysticism implemented by both poets in the treatment of death in the selected death poems such as contemplation, escapism, compulsion, conscience, tranquility, submission and reunion, the study implements a comparative content and stylistic analysis methodology to analyze linguistic and literary representation of death in the selected poems. It identifies the similarities and differences between both poets and concludes that despite the cultural and religious, time and place differences, both poets share psychological and intellectual factors that lead them towards the identical mystical perception of Death as an agent for unity with the Ultimate Divinity. This perception has been gradually developing and masterfully represented with the use of linguistic techniques like imagery, apostrophe, metaphors, personification, symbolism, allusion. and logical construction. The study hopes to fill a vital gap in the body of knowledge related to the mystical perceptions of death and the language that capture the identity of the two poets in their timeless literary masterpieces.


Keywords: Mysticism; Death; Donne; Al-Ma’arri; Comparative.

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