A. Early Seventeenth Century Metaphysical Poetry
The Life of John Donne
Education and Study
Life with his wife
Death of Anne More
Death of John Donne
Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt
A look into sonnet XVII
In early seventeenth century English poetry, a poet with a particular form of writing could be considered a metaphysical poet. These poets write about the fundamentals of nature. Metaphysical poets writing are characterized by the imagery and argumentation, as well as the metaphysical conceit. Metaphysical conceit is a figure of speech that compares objects that are not normally associated. John Donne, one of the well-recognized metaphysical poets, compares two lovers who are separated to the two legs of a compass in his poem, A Valediction Forbidding Mourning (Wikipedia). John Donne was born in the year 1572 to a prominent Roman Catholic family in London. His father was, in English terms an ironmonger, an iron or hardware dealer. His father, who died suddenly when John was only four year old, taught John about death at a very early age. His mother, Elizabeth Haywood, who was left to raise three children following the death of her husband, was the daughter of John Heywood, a writer of epigrams, a form of poems (Wikipedia). He began his studies very early in life. He, with his younger brother Henry, entered the University of Oxford at the very tender age of eleven. There he studied for three years, after witch he moved his study to the University of Cambridge for an additional three years. He was unable to obtain a degree due to his inability, being Catholic, to take the Oath of Supremacy, which is what was required at graduation. He then was admitted to study law from 1591-1592 (Wikipedia). In 1593, his brother Henry was imprisoned for giving sanctuary to a Catholic priest. He died while in prison after developing a. These chain of events caused John to begin to question his faith. He eventually converted to Anglicanism sometime in the 1590s (Jokinen). Donne was appointed as the private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton in 1598. And in 1601, Donne entered Parliament. This, however, was short lived. Donne was fired and imprisoned for several weeks in 1601, after it had been discovered that he had secretly married Egerton's niece, Anne More without the blessing of her father, Sir George More. They had been married several months before it was discovered. This ended his public political career and made other prospects scarce (Jokinen). He was reunited after a short imprisonment with his wife. At that point financial difficulties had begun to take hold. He and his wife moved to land belonging to Anne's cousin and had much help from friends. He made a small living as a lawyer for the next few years where he acted as chief counsel for an anti-Roman Catholic pamphleteer who later became the Bishop of Durham, Thomas Morton. It is presumed that Donne helped Morton write pamphlets that appeared solely in Morton's name from 1604-1607. It was not until 1609 that he reconciled with his father-in-law, Sir George More, and was granted the much needed dowry for his wife (Jokinen). Thomas Morton convinced Donne that it would be in his best interest to enter the church. Even though Donne's dreams lay with being in the public eye once again, he made a visit to the king. King James insisted that Donne be in the Anglican Church. Donne reluctantly took his holy order is 1615 and was appointed Royal Chaplain later that year (Jokinen). Anne Donne was only able to lend her support to her husband a short time after he entered priesthood. She died in 1617 after giving birth to their twelfth child, a stillborn. He now had seven surviving children to attend to. Just as John Donne's life and fortune...
Cited: Jokinen, Anniina. "The Life of John Donne." Luminarium.
31 March 2006.
"John Donne" Wikipedia.org." 30 March 2006.
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