Read John Donne's Poetry: Authoritative Texts, Criticism by John Donne Free Online
Book Title: John Donne's Poetry: Authoritative Texts, Criticism|
The author of the book: John Donne
Edition: W. W. Norton & Company
Date of issue: November 1st 1991
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.21 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.2
ISBN 13: 9780393960624
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What is it that infects the iconoclasts? What is it unrelenting that they cannot be the same?
John Donne was a colossus, straddling the channel. To be born English and Catholic meant he never had a unified identity. Sometimes it troubled him, but to be no one man became his greatest gift. Most people are never forced to look beyond their place and their lives. That place itself may be challenged, and success is never assured, but to strive to become someone out of being so strongly no-one is another type of success.
It taught him joy in the world. It taught him of the simplicity of joy: that it is always a small thing and turns about and about on a single word. It stretched him out along a continuum with two opposing sides that could never be opposite concepts, and only found their conflict in the blood and flesh of men.
I might say it is no wonder that he was the man who tried to imagine a speck of dust that spans the universe. I might say it, but it would not be true: Donne is a wonder; and he is a wonderer. In that sense, he creates himself. He may be this, or he may be its opposite. That he was born a Catholic and died the Anglican Priest of St. Paul's Cathedral is not a change of identity for him, but rather a simple turn of phrase.
Why shouldn't a poet's life be a poem? We might ask what mark could stand betwixt the caesura of a man's change of heart. The mark is Metaphysics, which has doggedly followed him ever since.
There is a Shakespearean accessibility to Donne, in that he never places himself squarely behind any particular idea. Indeed, he is defined by his ability to question more than answer. He also bears some resemblance to the bard in his use of low humor, which combines with his holy works to span most of human experience.
However, there is often little accessible about his conceits, which are complex, intellectual, and many-layered. Unlike Shakespeare, Donne tends to challenge the reader (though the argument of medium may stand here). Like Pope, there is the sense that Donne is sharing a joke with you, and there is satisfaction in it. However, it is often less likely to be (entirely) a joke as a conceptual and philosophical exploration.
Taking his cues from the consummate Petrarch, Donne builds a language and a world of poetry like the crafting of a philosophy. However, finding himself too uninhibited to match the singular drive and form of Petrarch, Donne leaves us instead an open book, where every confirmation undermines itself, and to withhold becomes, itself, a passion.
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Read information about the authorJohn Donne was an English poet, preacher and a major representative of the metaphysical poets of the period. His works are notable for their realistic and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially as compared to that of his contemporaries.
Despite his great education and poetic talents, he lived in poverty for several years, relying heavily on wealthy friends. In 1615 he became an Anglican priest and, in 1621, was appointed the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London.
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