John Donne as a Love Poet

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John Donne (1572-1631) is considered the most prominent of all metaphysical poets, especially in the seventeenth century. Donne also spent some years as a lawyer, and as a preacher, earned a reputation for delivering enchanting sermons. Donne, as a love poet, wrote from personal experience, which fact made his poetry more accessible and compelling. His independent spirit was evident in his poems, to the point of him being called rebellious. His love poems were a remarkable conglomerate of divinity and sensuality, and he explored the relationship between the two. The emotional range of Donne’s love poetry is vast and varied, as are his poems. The central theme of Donne's work was the exploration of an individual's experience of love, divinity and mortality.

Although at times Donne adopted Petrarchan devices in his poems, his imagery, style and meter were completely different from Petrarchan love poetry. His imagery ranges from the vulgar to the sublime, from daily activities to old scientific theories; it may be of a deplorable bad taste or combine sheer originality with beauty and accuracy. His poetry displays an intellectual analysis of human experiences and desires, and contradictory views on love, truth and religion. Rhythm in Donne’s poems is secondary, and helps only, if at all, to underline ideas. Despite all its variety, Donne's work had certain recognizable stylistic features like the use of colloquial language, conventional tone and rhythms and literary devices such as equivocation, puns and metaphysical conceit. His poems displayed intelligence through logical analysis and witty argument, sometimes to the extent of being blasphemous. Donne attempted to define love by pitting the conventions about love against the actual experience of it. He decried Petrarchan one-sided love and came to the realisation that “a satisfying passion must be a mutual relationship” which would transcend the physical world. This is considered one of his most important...
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