John Donne’s Poetry

Jone Donne’s Poetry

John Donne (1573 – 1631)
Let’s talk about John Donne’s Poetry. John Donne was a British Renaissance poet famous for his poems on life, death and religion.
His work is often dubbed as ‘metaphysical’ poetry due to his complex relationship with God and romantic themes.

Death be not proud

Death be not proud
This poem is Donne’s argument about why death is not to be feared.
Death is personified and belittled, ending with the paradox that ‘death shall die’
This is tied in with Christian belief that death is met with eternal life, and so is not really a ‘death’ at all.
The title reflects the crude personification of death; that it is proud of the fear often attached with it.

This is my playes last scene

This is my playes last scene
Despite the title and a sense of connotation centred on death – it is more a poem based on meditation.
In this poem Donne’s persona imagines his deathbed and chronicles his ascension from Earth to Heaven.
Donne uses analogies and metaphors such as that of the title, and ‘last run race’.
There is also conflict between his soul which ascends, his body which remains on earth and his sins which fall toward hell.

At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow

This poem is essentially about the second coming of Jesus, where the dead will rise and be judged.
Donne’s persona, too, talks about his own judgement.
Lists manners of death and suggests that Christ’s second coming will see their bodies reanimated.
Donne’s persona speaks of his own judgement somewhat paradoxically – begging to learn repentance with blood even though the sacrifice of Jesus (and his blood) means he is already forgiven.

If poisonous minerals

If poisonous minerals
This poem is a soliloquy or a prayer of John Donne’s Poetry.
The first part, he laments that God forgives animals and things that ‘poison’ but doesn’t forgive a human for much lesser crimes.
His tone then shifts to one begging mercy.
He realises that there is no point in questioning the will of God, only that he asks for forgiveness.

Hymne to God my God, in my sicknesse

Hymne to God my God, in my sicknesse
One of his last poems, reputably written shortly before his death.
Makes a number of cartographical analogies, particularly his body being a ‘map’, along with it being a device that leads one into the afterlife.
He asks not for healing, he is prepared to die and asks mainly for a peaceful death.
Makes a number of references to biblical ideas such as to Adam and the crucifixion, trying to link the idea of death and life being the same – coupled with the reference of going West.

A Valediction: forbidding mourning

A Valediction: forbidding mourning
This poem is about Donne leaving for a voyage, and is addressed to his wife.
It makes ‘conceits’ or analogies about how their love with conquer their separation; to gold, to death, to ‘the spheres’ and to a compass.
The compass metaphor is expanded to say that the compass is two parts operating as one.
She is at the centre while he is following her, eventually coming full circle upon his return home.

The Apparation

The Apparation
This poem is a revenge fantasy.
It is about a man by scorning his lover, who in return promises to haunt her and her new love.
The poem tries to position the woman as impure – not a virgin and promiscuous.
He threatens her with a ghostly promise that he won’t reveal until the night she is in bed with her new lover.
He is trying to force her hand to stay with him, and indicates other lovers are worse than he is, and she should repent.

The Relique

The Relique
This is a complex earlier work from Donne about a persona fantasising about his exhumation.
Here we find him and a lover’s body dug up – suggesting with more than ‘one a bed’ about her carrying a child.
He also fantasises about their bones becoming relics like those of Mary Magdalene.
Compared to The Apparation, these lovers are ‘purer’.
The woman is a virgin and their love is true.
Those who kiss on greeting and farewell, but ‘not between meals’.

The Sunne Rising

The Sunne Rising is about Donne’s persona and lover being woken by the sun as of John Donne’s Poetry.
He feels aggrieved that the sun has come and ruined the romantic evening the lover and he shared, and that they must ‘part’.
He takes a tone mocking the sun, and claims that the lover and he share something more important than sunlight.
That he could block out the sun by closing his eyes.
However, this is a suggestion that would stop him being able to look at her, and likens their bedroom to the centre of the universe.
These are John Donne’s Poetry.

Leave a Reply