How John Donne Showed his Love
John Donne’s poetry has been both ridiculed and praised. One reason for the ridicule is due to the fact that many people believe his work is vulgar, and his discussion of sex may seem improper to some people. Even in this modern age some people may find it a bit offensive. You can imagine what people thought of it in the sixteenth century. His discussion of sex in this “disgusting” manner is more obvious and prevalent in his early work, while he still had many female acquaintances and before he was settled down with his wife. Donne eloped with his underage lover Anne More which in itself was a scandalous event. Her father, Sir George More, objected to their marriage. Her father was so irritated he had John thrown in jail for marrying a minor without parental consent. Though the couple went through many hardships they loved each other very deeply (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia). The words in Donne’s poetry after the marriage only proved that fact. After their marriage the words in his poetry showed a more emotional side of Doone, you could sense the feeling of true love through the words. The way he spoke about the love he and his wife shared during this time shows it was much more then just sexual, and the sex was much more meaningful. After the death of his wife in 1617, Donne was devastated and although he had already been involved in the church even becoming an ordained minister for the Church of England (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia). His relationship with God became stronger almost as a replacement for his one true love Anne. At times in his poetry it is even difficult to tell if he is talking about God or his lover. Whether you think Donne’s poetry is perverted or not one can hardly call his work anything but genius. He is after all considered to be the leader of the metaphysical school of poets. As Herbert Grierson explains, Metaphysical Poetry “has been inspired by a philosophical conception of the universe and the rôle assigned to the human spirit in a great drama of existence” (147-148). As Theodore Redpath illustrates “everywhere in the poems are to be found instances of rapid and ingenious thinking” (223). The wording which he uses in his poetry can be some what difficult to comprehend at times. Once it is understood, his emotions and feelings can be felt very strongly throughout the poetry. One of the most important literary techniques, which can be found throughout his poetry and he uses quite frequently to inveigh his emotions and feelings is through the use of metaphors.
One of the most prominent feelings one can find in Donne’s poems is love. Joan Bennett puts it in her article entitled “The Poetry of John Donne”, we can not be certain if it was written for Anne, another women or even God. (180) Bennett also argues that “But the fact remains that such touches of description are very rare in Donne’s poetry. His interests lay elsewhere, namely in dramatizing, and analyzing, and illustrating by a wealth of analogy the state, or rather states, of being in love” (180) In other words saying that all of Donne’s work may in fact be non-fiction. But to me the poems were brimming with feeling, feeling which can not be fabricated even by the best of writers. What John Donne wrote, was for a woman, his love. In one of his poems entitled “The Canonization,” it can be thought of as having a deeper meaning due to the fact that the poem is about two lovers whose love cannot be understood by anyone else. Nobody believed they should love each other, and they talk and ridicule them behind their backs. There love is so great, greater then any other love Donne writes in his poem “all shall approve / Us canonized for love” (35-36). In other words he is saying that everyone will...
Cited: Bennett, Joan. “The Love Poetry of John Donne.” Donne 178-194.
Donne, John. John Donne’s Poetry: Authoritative Texts; criticism. Ed. Arthur L.
Clements. 2nded. New York and London: Norton, 1992.
Grierson, Herbert Sir. “Donne and Metaphysical Poetry.” Donne 147-157.
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1996 Grolier Interactive Inc. Microsoft
Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-1997 Microsoft Company Online.
Internet. 19 March 1999. http://www.ultranet.com/
Redpath, Theodore. “The Songs and Sonnets.” Donne 217-227.
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