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John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
John Donne 1572   1631
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John Donne 1572 1631


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  • 1. <ul><li>John Donne 1572 – 1631 </li></ul><ul><li>by S Abeyawardene </li></ul>
  • 2. The Metaphysical Poets <ul><li>Reacted against the deliberately sweet tones of much 16th-century verse </li></ul><ul><li>adopted a style that is energetic, witty and inventive, </li></ul><ul><li>fusing rationality with passion </li></ul><ul><li>and engaging the mind to gain access to the heart. </li></ul><ul><li>For this, they were despised and rejected by many of their contemporaries. </li></ul>
  • 3. The Rhythm Donne sought to imitate human speech patterns, giving his poetry a more realistic and intimate feel and making it easier to identify with the speaker . The tone is often conversational ; Donne appears to be addressing someone in speech. The Flea even implies a reply from the other party between stanzas. Read the poem as a conversational monologue and write the prospective lover’s response between stanzas.
  • 4. Conceits and Metaphors <ul><li>As you know, a metaphor compares two things; e.g. ‘burning rage’ compares anger to fire. It has poetic impact, but the effect is momentary. </li></ul><ul><li>A conceit, on the other hand, can take an entire poem to develop, and cleverly extends the depth of comparison, also. Find a conceit in The Flea and A Valediction and comment on their effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Donne brings comparisons from all aspects of academia: astronomy, metallurgy, alchemy, law, mathematics and physiology. Categorise as many metaphors and conceits as you can find in the poems we are studying, according to their origins. </li></ul>
  • 5. The Logic of Paradox <ul><li>Entire poems may be based on arguments, usually designed to tease the recipient. </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the lover’s argument in The Flea and is it well-founded? </li></ul><ul><li>These arguments often involve paradoxes – statements of opposites - that express the contradictory nature of man&apos;s behaviour . </li></ul><ul><li>Find the paradoxes in lines 1-4 and 13-14, then explain what they reveal about human nature. </li></ul>
  • 6. The Many Faces of Love <ul><li>The Lover’s World </li></ul><ul><li>When Donne is romantically in love, the world shrinks to include only two people – him and his lover – and the earth they occupy. He is not shy about declaring this to the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Find evidence of this type of love in The Sun Rising and consider how it is conveyed. </li></ul>
  • 7. The Many Faces of Love <ul><li>Elevated (Platonic) Love </li></ul><ul><li>The other common theme in his serious love poems is that love spiritually elevates true lovers, lifting them above common mortals. </li></ul><ul><li>How does he achieve this in The Canonisation and A Valediction? </li></ul>
  • 8. The Many Faces of Love <ul><li>Seduction </li></ul><ul><li>There is nothing soppy about Donne&apos;s seductions; they are wickedly clever, roguish and fun. </li></ul><ul><li>What makes The Flea a seduction poem? </li></ul>
  • 9. Devotional Poetry <ul><li>While Donne wrote his most extravagant love poetry in his 20s and his most intense religious poetry decades later as Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the edges are blurred; paradoxes and conceits flow from one to another. </li></ul><ul><li>Spirituality and passion merge and blend throughout his works; but in the religious poems, he just aimed that passion at God instead of girls! </li></ul><ul><li>What evidence of this can you find in the language of Holy Sonnet XIV, for example? </li></ul>