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Poems John Donne is with apologies to my unintentional namesake my absolute favorite poet He covers all the big three topics that great poetry should Love Death and God and often than not he's covering all three at the same time in the span of 14 short beautiful little lines of epic proportionEvery time I come back to his work I find something new to enjoy I can marvel at poems that put down Death as a trivial and temporary inconvenience take a mere object like a mathematical compass and make it a perfect symbol of true love turn a flea into a lusty surrogate for sex and address the theological doubts a person can have wondering which faith is the right one for them Donne poems are a collection of witty conceits to be puzzled over and they reward me with a little thrill an aha moment every time I figure out the message hidden withinIf you're at all interested in great classical poetry you do yourself a disservice if you don't read at least a few of Donne's poems Masterful stuff Yet it is only this century that Donne has been indisputably established as a great poet—and even many feel the greatest love poet of them all Jonson went on to remark that 'That Donne for not keeping of an accent deserved hanging' yet Donne's rhythms once thought 'unmusical' are now recognized as the natural rhythms of the speaking voice; his 'eccentricity' as a complex self doubt; his 'obscurity' the reflection of a brilliantly learned and allusive mind Poets such as Eliot and Empson have found Donne's poetry profoundly attuned to our modern age while Yeats' glowing comment will always be true 'the intricacy and subtlety of his imagination are the length and depth of the furrow made by his passion' This volume superbly edited by Professor Smith is the first complete edition to make a serious attempt to guide the reader closely through the complexities of Donne's poetry Considerable attention has been paid to the text and a selection of the important manuscript variants are included This edition is also the first to make use of the newly discovered manuscript of the verse letter to Lady Carey and Mistress Essex Rich I took this book out of the library because I read that Theodore Roethke brought lists of verbs from 17th century poetry to his students and told his students for their own poetic deepening to read poetry from the 17th century and earlier I remember reading John Donne in high school when I did not get it at all But now I get it I get it even though I don't get it I find myself compelled to sit there and figure it out The archaic word order I find compelling and I sit there puzzling over it in bed The cat kept poking me in the chest with her paw so I'd pay attention to her again Which subject goes with the verb A dichotomy set up in the beginning of the poem appears to continue eg between right and left emotion and logic and as the poem progresses it gets complicated I have to keep zooming my eyes back to the beginning of the poem to hold the parallels together in my mind I am compelled on all levels by this writing linguistic topical intellectual emotional and religious Donne's poems were never published in his own lifetime but circulated in manuscript form THE SUN RISING BUSY old fool unruly Sun Why dost thou thusThrough windows and through curtains call on us Must to thy motions lovers' seasons runSaucy pedantic wretch go chide Late school boys and sour prentices Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride Call country ants to harvest offices ;Love all alike no season knows nor climeNor hours days months which are the rags of time Thy beams so reverend and strong Why shouldst thou think I could eclipse and cloud them with a winkBut that I would not lose her sight so long If her eyes have not blinded thine Look and to morrow late tell me Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine Be where thou left'st them or lie here with meAsk for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterdayAnd thou shalt hear All here in one bed lay She's all states and all princes I ; Nothing else is ;Princes do but play us ; compared to thisAll honour's mimic all wealth alchemy Thou Sun art half as happy as we In that the world's contracted thus ; Thine age asks ease and since thy duties be To warm the world that's done in warming usShine here to us and thou art everywhere ;This bed thy center is these walls thy sphere In brief Donne was a contemporary of Shakespeare but a writer of poems not plays He was largely passed over in life but is now regarded as one of the greats and reading this you can see whyThoughts Before picking this up I’d only read two or three of Donne’s poems in a high school English class I liked what I saw and found him readable than Shakespeare and I still agree with that assessment now that I’ve read everything His rhythms and words are plainer like spoken English than anything without the stylistic complexity that Shakespeare seems to inject into everything longer than four lines and so there’s a different sort of beauty to it And the meanings come through better at least for meI think where Donne really shines is his love poems and I’m not alone in that view I don’t think He gets the tenderness and submissiveness of romance and the flattery of wooing and can get downright erotic without ever getting racy—though the poem where he gently and persistently talks his lover into taking all her clothes off in front of him was probably close at the time even if he’s using religious metaphorsHe’s also good at memorial poems and wrote a lot of religious poems as well and there was this whole genre of letter poems which I didn’t know about in which you’d write a friend about your life or to continue a conversation except you’d do it in rhyming verse There were some miscellaneous sorts of poems as well and the overall tone of his poems is gentleness and reverence with a uiet wit I was as taken with that as I was with his techniue and did I mention he has some truly impressive rhymesAll that said though this is 17th century poetry It’s not the easiest of reads especially the longer poems that go on for pages and I definitely found myself rereading poems a few times to understand what he was saying in them By the time I was nearing the end of the collection I was also very ready to be The poems are wonderful but they’re also 200 pages of moderately difficult verse so y’know I really liked the collection and am glad I picked it up but unless you’re like me and willing to commit to the experience it might be better if you simply look up Donne’s poems and read a few of them Which I absolutely suggest you doTo bear in mind Donne was writing in the 1600s and while open minded than some of his peers was still a man of his time Do not expect perfect 21st century ideas about women—but you weren’t going to were you910 John Donne is one of my favorite poets This collection is excellent His poems are spiritual and his poems are sensual I love his mindset and the time in which he lived He may have been a cleric but I'm not being preached at I can open this book and just enjoy An epic poet even if in this day and age he may be seen as slightly cheesy However other then Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes he is still my favorite poet He has an amazing use of conceits and imagery that are pictures to your mind You can read his poems again and again and see new meaning to his world of words Unappreciated in his time this gentleman like player should be known and shared now I'm a huge fan of Donne like Rochester he has this rough rugged poetical style which I find very intriguing although Donne is less explicitly obscene and he bends that style towards a kind of hyper intellectualismBut I think the thing I most compelling and fascinating is the way the passion of his secular verse infuses also his religious writings My favourite being 'Batter my heart three person'd God' Such a marvellously physical response to the idea of Divine love John Donne undoubtedly belongs to another time His English is not our contemporary English and therefore at times he is a bit hard to read That being said he is an absolute master at putting words together Some of his phrasing is funny much is romantic and most is extraordinarily pious A couple of my favorite examples of his phrasing are as follows“I am two fools I knowFor loving and for saying so”“And to 'scape stormy days I choose an everlasting night” Most of his poems however reuire the full context to be appreciated I love the opening of “Air and Angels”Twice or thrice had I loved theeBefore I knew thy face or name;So in a voice so in a shapeless flameAngels affect us oft and worshipped be; Still when to where thou wert I cameSome lovely glorius nothing I did see But since my soul whose child love isTakes limbs of flesh and else could nothing do More subtle than a parent isLove must not be but take a body too And therefore what thou wert and who I bid love ask and nowThat it assume thy body I allowAnd fix itself in thy lip eye and browSimilarly the opening of “The Progress of the Soul” is deeply reflectiveI sing the progress of a deathless soulWhom Fate which God made but doth not controlPlaced in most shapes; all times before the lawYoked us and when and since in this I singAnd the great world to his aged eveningFrom infant morn through manly noon I drawDonne seeks to understand the universe writ large and why things are the way they are A great example can be taken from “An Anatomy of the World”That this world’s general sickness doth not lieIn any humour or one certain part;But as thou sawest it rotten at the heartThou seest a hectic fever hath got holdOf the whole substance not to be controlledAnd that thou hast but one way not to admitThe world’s infection to be none of itThe “Divine Meditations” contains not only some of his most famous phrasing but a sincere examination of deathDeath be not proud though some have called theeMighty and dreadful for thou art not soFor those whome thou think’st thou dost overthrowDie not poor death nor yet canst thou kill me;From rest and sleep which but thy pictures beMuch pleasure then from thee much must flowAnd soonest our best men with thee do goRest of their bones and soul’s deliveryDonne however for me is at his best in his purely religious poems My favorite is “A Hymn to God the Father”IWilt thou forgive that sin where I begun Which was my sin though it were done beforeWilt thou forgive that sin though which I run And do run still though still I do deplore When thou hast done thou hast not done For I have IIWilt thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin And made my sin their doorWilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two but wallowed in a score When thou hast done thou hast not done For I have IIII have a sin of fear that when I have spun My last thread I shall perish on the shore;But swear by thy self that at my death thy son Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore; And having done that thou hast done I fear no This is a magnificent collectionSee my other reviews here I worked for the Chautauua Opera when I was 22 It’s a summer music festival I had an affair with a married woman in her 40’s lasting eight weeks It was luscious and thrilling Chautauua is the perfect place for romance and opera Come fall when the leaves started plummeting and the artist Diaspora sent actors and crew on their way we parted my paramour and I She gave me a book of Donne—with dried flowers pressed in the pages I now place the book on my Goodreads shelf The flowers are still holding the pages together His poetry has traveled far with me—and served me wellHere is one of my favorites to remind you there needs to be a little Donne in you life every now and again Besides who do you know can use the word ‘unjoint’ and have it make senseThis Is My Play’s Last Scene Here Heavens AppointJohn Donne Holy Sonnet VIThis is my play’s last scene here heavens appointMy pilgrimage’s last mile; and my raceIdly yet uickly run hath this last paceMy span’s last inch my minute’s latest pointAnd gluttonous death will instantly unjointMy body and soul and I shall sleep a space;But my ever waking part shall see that faceWhose fear already shakes my every jointThen as my soul t’ heaven her first seat takes flightAnd earth born body in the earth shall dwellSo fall my sins that all may have their rightTo where they’re bred and would press me to hellImpute me righteous thus purged of evilFor thus I leave the world the flesh the devil

About the Author: John Donne

John Donne was an English poet preacher and a major representative of the metaphysical poets of the period His works are notable for their realistic and sensual style and include sonnets love poetry religious poems Latin translations epigrams elegies songs satires and sermons His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor especially as compared to that of

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