Discuss John Donne’s poetry



  • – His poems were never published during his lifetime, but his manuscripts circulated among the people.
  • – He wrote verse letters, epigrams, elegies, sonnets, songs, satires …
  • – Donne‘s poetry can be divided into 2 parts:
  • o satirical, cynical, political and obsessed with sexuality, ironical
  • o religious poetry, devoted to death and spirituality
  • – He goes against classical authors and works (Plato, Shakespeare, Sidney )
  • – He likes to play with language — he builds metaphors in clusters (one on top of the other). He shows a remarkable sense of humour. He puts the idea before rhythm, sometimes his poems don‘t ―flow‖. He uses colloquial language and the rhythm of spoken language.
  • – He‘s very confident; he takes delight in complicating things and figurative language. All his conceits are witty. He always comes up with a new question; he‘s never satisfied with easy answers.

He wrote:

  • – The Flea
  • – A Valediction Forbidding Mourning: a song, in which he used unusual images and conceit
  • – Songs and Sonnets: he created 40 new stanza forms; passion, feeling and sensuality are all subjected to wit
  • – Elegies: Elegy XIX Going to Bed; is written in courtly love tradition (Christian nations in which the love of the woman is transformed into a religious symbol)
  • – Divine Poems: He was not witty anymore, but became spiritual, religious and metaphysical. The 19 holy sonnets are preoccupied with eternity, death and spirituality. The poems explore the paradox which he was fond of- contradictions, argumentations, abrupt openings, dramatic monologues. He also uses typical rhetorical manners, apostrophes, imperatives.

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