Subject: Classical Poetry
Topic: “Distinctive Qualities of Donne as a Poet”
Submitted by: Ambreen Naqvi (11014237-1006)
•The Age of Donne
Donne As A Metaphysical Poet
•Use of Metaphysical Conceits
•Bizarre Imagery & Thoughtful Comparison
•Use of Space in Love
•Use of Personification
•Man of Passion
•Donne Vs. The Elizabethan Lyric
•Donne’s Journey Through Vulnerability
•Romantic Contradiction in Donne’s Poetry
John Donne (1572-1631)
One of the most original and controversial poets in the history of English literature, John Donne (1572-1631) is best known for his metaphysical poetry on topics as diverse as the joys of lovemaking and humanity's subservience to God. John Donne wrote energetic, rigorous but uneven lines characterized by complex, witty conceits—contrasts and paradoxes—startling extended metaphors, and striking imagery juxtaposing the earthly and the divine. Eighteenth-century critic Samuel Johnson noted that in Donne's work, “The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions.” The Age of John Donne
The age of John Donne was an age of transition, standing midway between the age of Shakespeare and the Jacobean age (1572-1631). The age of Donne would effectively and substantially cover the first thirty years of the seventeenth century. This age stands midway between the age of Shakespeare-and the age of Milton. There is, however, some over-lapping which cannot be avoided because literary periods or ages cannot be separated chronologically.
It was a period of remarkable literary activity, a sort of prolongation of the Elizabethan age. The revival of learning had influenced not only Italy and Germany but also England. The classics were studied minutely and from a new angle. The re-discovery of the literature and culture of the past-known as humanism-gave the writers a new outlook on life. Life was a gay game and not a sorry penance. The new ideal man was to be a perfect courtier, a perfect soldier, a perfect writer and, above all, a perfect gentleman. For this, he had to undergo comprehensive training and a rigorous discipline.
Many changes in the political, social and economic domains were being effected. Colonial expansion and increase in industry and trade made people materialistic. The study of medieval literature developed the minds of the readers. Though education was not so widespread, the common man spared no opportunity of obtaining knowledge from any source. Medieval beliefs held their ground both in John Donne and his contemporaries.
The Reformation was a direct challenge to Rome. Why should Pope be supreme in the matters of religion? Religion, after all, is a personal matter and no dictation should be tolerated from-outside. Nationalism in its wider connotation was responsible not only for a new literature, but also a new faith. The abuses and weaknesses of the Catholic religion were laid bare. The new Church of England came into being. Donne, like some of his contemporaries, felt within himself the conflict of faith. His scepticism, his humanism and his learning made him challenge the faith of his ancestors. The result was that after a good deal of heart-searching and vacillation, Donne embraced the Established Church of England by 1598. But it was not until he was ordained in 1615 that he became a confirmed Anglican.
The heritage of Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1603, was one of peace and...