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"Heav'n," or Heaven

Symbol Analysis

We sort of covered this in our section on "the lark," but it's important enough to get its own discussion. In the sonnet, our speaker uses the word "heav'n" as a way to avoid saying the name of "God." This, of course, reveals much about our speaker's relationship with God. At the beginning of the sonnet, he feels as though God is not listening and has abandoned him during one of the worst moments in his life. By the end of the sonnet, our speaker brings up "heaven" again as a way to tell us that he is no longer in a state of spiritual despair, but it's not really clear if he feels any closer to God.

  • Line 3: This is where the speaker accuses "deaf heav'n" of ignoring his "cries." Of course, heaven isn't really deaf—the speaker is using personification as a way to say that God isn't answering his prayers. The fact that he can't even bring himself to utter God's name suggests just how spiritually isolated our speaker is feeling.
  • Line 12: By the time we get to this line, the speaker says he feels like a happy bird that "sings hymns at heaven's gate." Wow. That's quite a transformation from earlier in the poem when he directed his useless "cries" at "heav'n" (3). This could imply that God is actually listening to our speaker now. But, we can't say for sure because our speaker still isn't on a first name basis with God. 
  • Plus, it's totally possible that this "heaven" doesn't refer to God at all. In fact, it seems more like a reference to how wonderful he feels when he remembers the "sweet love" of a friend that he mentions in the lines that follow (13-14). So, what do you think? Is our speaker BFFs with God by the end of the poem? Or, has he just moved on and found happiness in a human relationship?

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