Division of the Body and Soul
John Donne's "The Funeral" and "Holy Sonnet 3" are undeniably similar in their discussions of the separation of the body and soul. Each poem deals directly with the idea of death and afterlife. However, the topic of death is referred to not as an ending but more of as a beginning to a new life, exclusively for the soul. Each poem reflects the soul being released from the body as a way of cleansing the spirit while allowing the mind to rid itself of things that might have troubled the speaker while living. Through death the soul is given a second life, free of previous concerns and with new virginity to the blessings of the afterlife.
While reviewing "The Funeral" the first thing that became apparent was the title. A funeral is ceremony held in connection with the burial of a dead person. So already just by looking at the title we become aware that we are dealing with a dead body. Death, in some cultures, is the separation of the body from the soul. The soul continues to live and may even find shelter in another body. Again, from the title of the poem we can tell that death will be the main idea. Digging into the first stanza of the poem, we can begin with the analysis of the first few lines. "Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm nor question much, That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm; the mystery, the sign you must not touch, for `tis my outward soul" (line 1-5) The speaker is telling the people who come to mourn him not to disturb his body. He speaks about the hair that "crowns [his] arm" (line 3) is considered armor to his dead body. The hair is protecting his soul and this is why he must not be disturbed. What is being insinuated is that the soul has become vulnerable after the body has died. If people disturb the body the soul may be damaged on its journey away from the body.
"Viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone, will leave this to control, and keep these limbs her provinces, from dissolution" (lines 6-8). I believe that what the poet is implying is that the soul is the ruler of the body and that it will ascend to heaven soon. When the poet writes ."..and keep these limbs her province, from dissolution" (line 8) he is referring to a past lover, who still dominates aspects of his life. However, the part of his life that she still controls will be only in body as opposed to in his soul. So while she will not lose any of her "provinces," she will lose her hold on his soul. Death becomes a way of forgetting things that are related to his body and allow his soul to take off in a carefree way.
Moving along through the poem, the beginning of the second stanza follows the same theme as the first. "For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall through every part, can tie those parts, and make me one of all" (line 10-12). The poet shines light on the fact that his body is strictly mechanical. There is "thread" holding his body together that originates from his brain and flows...