JOHN DONNE (1572 – 1631)

Donne, a son of a wealthy merchant, was born in London. His parents were Roman Catholics, and he was educated in  their faith before going on to Oxford and Cambridge. He entered the Inns of court in 1592, where he mingled wide reading with the life of dissolute man about town. In these years (1590 – 1601) he wrote Satires, Songs, and Sonnets, and the Elegies, but though widely circulated in manuscript, they were not published until 1633, after his death. Donne seemed ambitious for a worldly career, but this was ruined by a runaway marriage with the nice of his patron, after which he spent several years in suitorship of the great. In 1615 he entered the Anglican Church, after a severe personal struggle, and in 1621 became Dean of St. Paul’s which position he until his death in 1631. He was the first great Anglican preacher. John Donne was the most independent of the Elizabethan poets and revolted against the easy, fluent style, stock imagery, and pastoral conventions of the followers of Spenser. His poetry is forceful,
vigorous, and in spite of faults of rhythm, often strangely harmonious. His cynical nature and keenly critical mind led him to write satires, such as “Of the Progress of the Soule” (1601). His love poems, “The Songs and Sonnets”, were written in the same period. The best known and most typical of the poems of this group are “Aire and Angels“,”A Nocturnall upon S.Lucies day“, “A Valediction: forbidding mourning“, “The Extasie“, and “A Valediction: of weeping”. His religious poetry were written after 1610, and the greatest, the 19 Holy Sonnets, and the Lyric such as “A Hymn to GOD THE FATHER” after his wife’s death in 1617. His proses are “The Pseudo-Martyr (1610), “Ignatius His Conclave “(1611), ” Devotions”(1614), “Death’s Dwell”(1630).

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