Critically evaluate the poetic contributions of John Donne

Poetic contributions of John Donne

Ans. Poetic contributions of John Donne,  John Donne’s (1572 1631) standing as one the greatest poets in the English language is now thoroughly established, and critics such as T. S. Eliot, F. R. Levi’s and William Empson have found in Donne’s poetry qualities profoundly responsive to the modern age, He was born in a Roman Catholic family and was later converted to Anglicanism.

A scholar who studied law, languages, and theology, he rose to become the Dean of St. Paul’s church. His secret marriage with the young niece of his employer’s wife, Ann More, Spoilt his chances of a busy and lucrative career. The couple lived a life of privation for nearly a decade.

These experiences culminated in Donne’s writing of both love and religious poetry, most of which was posthumously published. Though the term ‘metaphysical poetry’ was first applied to Donne’s work, he did not write to establish the ‘Metaphysical school’ of poetry.

Possessing sensuous immediacy, his poetry was composed by the method of thinking in imagery’ to state a truth or express a precise definition, emotion or experience. He is intensely personal highly witty, sensuous, and dramatic.

Poetic contributions of John Donne
Poetic contributions of John Donne

Critically evaluate John Donne

He is at his best in his love poems, whether profane or divine. Donne’s genius, temperament, and learning gave to his love poems certain qualities which immediately arrested attention and have given them ever since power at once fascinating and disconcerting despite the faults of phrasing and harmony.

But the most intense and personal of Donne’s poems, after the love songs and elegies, are his later religious sonnets and song and their influence on subsequent poetry was over more obvious and potent. They are as personal and as tormented as his earlier ‘love-song weed’, for his spiritual Aeneid was a troubled one.

Donne is a poet with a unified sensibility in which both thought and feeling are simultaneously expressed through the use of fantastic conceits, far-fetched images, unbelievable hyperboles, scholarly allusions, and colloquial rhythms.

Poetic contributions of John Donne
Poetic contributions of John Donne

The more intellectual less verbal character of his wit compared with the conceits of the Elizabethans; the finer psychology of which his conceits are often the expression’ the argumentative subtle evolution of his lyrics; above all the peculiar blend of passion and thought, feeling and ratiocination is his greatest achievement And this achievement alone makes Dorne, the great master of English poetry in the 17th century.

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