John Donne, biografia



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John Donne

His life

- Was born in 1572 in London – during Elizabeth’s governemnt
- Became a law student and enjoyed the cultural life of London
- Travelled widely on the continent
- He got married without permission, so he was imprisoned → period of crisis which made the tranformation in his way of living
- Became an eminent preacher

His works

- Love lyrics → songs and sonets, go and catch a falling star; these lyrics were published late but circulated in the form of the manuscript during all of his lifetime
- Religious poetry → divine poems and the holy sonnets often in the form of a dialog, with his wife or mistress, and after with God, with colloquial language and complex images
- Sermons → the largest category of printed book in that period
- Wit (capacity to relate unlike ideas and implied intellectual cleverness and ingenuity), conceits (comparison between objects which at first glance seem to have nothing in common), metaphisical poetry (Donne uses the philosophical speculation language in context were it sound inappropriate – in love poems he should have used heart and not mind)

His features

- Argumentative quality of his love poetry in which the poet tries to persuade the woman to share this or that point of view
- Dramatic quality given by the use of a speaker and by the use of actual or imaginary experiences.
- Poems are witty and full of metaphors, similes, conceits, paradoxes used to give the conclusion or to prove a point in a logical manner.
- Images are taken from a world which is much more wide than the world of custom love poems because he had a learned mind so he could take his images from world unkown by the other writers
- Love is physical and his women are real
- In Donne’s lyrics it’s possible to see the reject of the standard forms and languages of the attitudes of the courtly world and of the tipical love sonnet.


- Love lyric form Songs and Sonets
- Written to his wife before leaving France
- Images and metaphors

1. the dead of a virtuos man is compared with the way the lovers have to separe themselves
2. two metaphors taken by natural phenomena (floods and tempests) and compared to tears and sighs
3. moving of earth, which makes fears and hurts, is compared to movement of the planets, which, also if it’s far greater, is innocent
4. dull people’s love, which soffers the absence, is connected with the love of the poet and his wife, because they do not soffer the separation and care less the miss of the other’s body
5. the souls of the lovers are comparated with a gold leave thin like air, which, when beaten, do not soffer, but expands itself
6. then, finally, the souls of the lovers are compared to the two stiffs of a compass: when one moves, the other stays stopped and only its superior part goes back to the other stiff’s movement