John Donne's position as a revered and respected poet is not unjustified. The depth and breath of literary works written about him along with the esteemed position he held among his comtemporaries is evidence of his popularity. As a metaohysical poet his poetry was frequently abstract and theoritical and he utilised poetry to display his learning and above all his wit. He was most certainly an innovative love poet who moved away from the Shakespearian focus on form intensely literary style. He was an expert in argument and often used exr=tended conceits to put forward these arguments. The drama in his poetry and his use of language all serve to highlight his skills as an innovative and creative poet. In order to examine Donne's innovative style I will discuss five of his poems, A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day, The Flea, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, The Sunne Rising and The Anniversarie.
Donne was frequently classed as the first and greatest of the metaphysical poets. This group of writers were classed together, not because of any historical connection, but largely due to their similiarity of style. The term metaphysical could be classed in a number of ways the work of these poets was both celebrated and criticised. For many metaphysics was a branch of philosophical speculation concerned with questions of our being and existence. It was often characterised by the se of inventive conceits and speculation on topics such as love or religion. For Samuel Johnson, who coined the term the metaphysical poets, they were overly comcerned with style and the demonstration of learning. He believed these poets, who included George Herbert and Andrew Marvel as well as Donne, were simply using this style of poetry to show off their intelligence, 'The metaphysical poets were men of learning and to show their learning was their whole endeavour'. [Johnson, 1876: 48].
The impact Donne and his innovative style made on his contemporaries is evidenced further when we look...
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