John Donne (/ˈdʌn/ dun) (22 January 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet and a cleric in the Church of England. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. from Wikipedia
• Born : 22 January 1572, London,
• Died : 31 March 1631 (aged 59).
• Occupation : Poet, priest and lawyer.
• Nationality : English.
• Alma Mater : Oxford University.
• Genre : Satire, love poetry, elegy,
• Subject : Love, sexuality, religion, death.
• Literary Movement : Metaphysical poetry
• He was the most independent of the
• He revolted against the easy, fluent style,
stock imagery, and pastoral conventions of the
followers of Spenser.
• He aimed at reality of thought and vividness
• His poetry is forceful, vigorous, and, in spite of
faults of rhythm, often strangely harmonious.
• Considered the master of metaphysical
conceits, an extended metaphor, that
combines two vastly different ideas into a
single idea, often using imagery.
• His works are also witty, employing paradoxes,
puns and subtle yet remarkable analogies.
• Donne’s pieces are often ironic and cynical,
especially regarding love and human motives.
• His poetry represented a shift from classical
form to more personal poetry
• Common subjects of Donne’s poems are love
(especially his early life), death (especially
after his wife’s death) and religion.
• Donne noted for his poetic metre, which was
structured with changing and jagged rhythms
that closely resemble casual speech.
Themes of Donne’s Poetry
Belittling cosmic forces
Death and the Hereafter
Love as both physical and spiritual
Interconnectedness of humanity
• A flea has bitten both lovers, and now the flea
marks their union because it has both of their
• The poet asks his lover not to kill it, but the
lover does, and finds herself not diminished.
• When she yields to her lover, he says, her
honor likewise will not be diminished, so there
is nothing to fear by going for.
• The poet complains that he does not yet have
“all” of his beloved's love, despite using all of
his resources to woo her
• She should not leave some love for others, nor
should she leave herself open to wooing by
• Yet, he also wants her to keep some of her
love for him in reserve so that they can enjoy
a constantly growing relationship.
• The poet demands that some complainer
leave him alone to love.
• The complainer should turn his attention
elsewhere, and nobody is hurt by the love.
• The poet and his lover take their own chances
together; they are unified in their love.
• Their love is a beautiful example for the world
that will be immortalized, canonized, a pattern
for all other love in the world.
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
• The beloved should not openly mourn being
separated from the poet.
• Their love is spiritual, like the legs of a
compass that are joined together at the top
even if one moves around while the other
stays in the center.
• She should remain firm and not stray so that
he can return home to find her again.
Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
• The speaker faces the possibility of his own
death by focusing on his preparation for
• He must tune himself in order to become
God’s musical instrument.
• He is like a map, where the westernmost and
easternmost points are the same and his
death will be transfigured into resurrection.
Holy Sonnet 14 (“Batter my heart)
• The speaker asks God to intensify the effort to
restore the speaker’s soul.
• God should overthrow him like a besieged
• He asks God to break the knots holding him
back, imprisoning him in order to free him,
and taking him by force in order to purify him.
John Donne by Nigel Boonham, 2012,
St. Paul’s Cathedral Garden