As one of the most influential poets of his time, John Donne set the bar high for aspiring poets in many decades to come. Donne was born in London, England in 1572 into a devout Roman Catholic family. Donne was born during a time when practicing religion was illegal in England, but his family practiced anyway and avoided attention to be able to do so. Donne’s prominence in the Church of England was likely influenced by his upbringing, which in return highly influenced his poetry. Depictions of British society and religion could clearly be seen in many of Donne’s works, along with many other somber depictions. The many deaths he grieved, his experience as a priest, and his intellectual acheivement shaped much of the man Donne was.
Throughout his life, Donne was unlucky enough to experience many deaths in his immediate family and circle of friends. In 1576, his father died, leaving his step mother to raise him and his siblings. Just a few short months after his father died, 2 of his sisters, Mary and Katherine died. Death can clearly be observed in two of his works, “An Anatomy of the World”, and “The First Anniversary”. In “An Anatomy of the World”, Donne writes of the untimely death of his mistress, Elizabeth Drury. This poem depicts a crumbling world, seemingly crumbling because of Elizabeth’s death. “Donne adopts imagery of decay to describe a culture no longer supported by a shared moral vision” (Brackett) In that quote by Virginia Brackett, it is made known that the cultural disintegration is a result of Elizabeth’s death. In this ending excerpt from the poem, the the impact of her death can clearly be seen . “She, she is dead; she’s dead: when thou know’st
this, Thou know’st how lame a cripple this world is”
That excerpt is straightforward itself, how once she has died, the world is damaged. In “The First Anniversary”, Donne writes of the loss of his beloved wife. Throughout the poem, Donne expresses that their love is the only thing left that is not...
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