John Donne 1572 1631

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John Donne 1572 1631

  1. 1. <ul><li>John Donne 1572 – 1631 </li></ul><ul><li>by S Abeyawardene </li></ul>
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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'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. 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. 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. 8. The Many Faces of Love <ul><li>Seduction </li></ul><ul><li>There is nothing soppy about Donne's seductions; they are wickedly clever, roguish and fun. </li></ul><ul><li>What makes The Flea a seduction poem? </li></ul>
  9. 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>

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