1572 – 1631
Who was John Donne?
John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are noted for their strong, 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 compared to that of his contemporaries. Donne's style is characterised by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques. His early career was marked by poetry that bore immense knowledge of British society and he met that knowledge with sharp criticism. Another important theme in Donne’s poetry is the idea of true religion, something that he spent much time considering and about which he often theorized. He wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems. He is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits.
- Perchance, he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him...
- As he that fears God hears nothing else, so, he that sees God sees every thing else.
- And new Philosophy calls all in doubt, the element of fire is quite put out; the Sun is lost, and the earth, and no mans wit can well direct him where to look for it.
- Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies.
- Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.
- He must pull out his own eyes, and see no creature, before he can say, he sees no God; He must be no man, and quench his reasonable soul, before he can say to himself, there is no God.
- No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
- To be no part of any body, is to be nothing.
- Love was as subtly caught, as a disease; But being got it is a treasure sweet, which to defend is harder than to get: And ought not be profaned on either part, for though 'Tis got by chance, 'Tis kept by art.
- But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner.