John Donne (1572-1631) was the major and head-poet of the so-called English Metaphysical School of Poetry which broke out in the earlier seventeenth century. John Donne wrote sonnets, satires, songs, sermons, elegies and so on. He did some prose-works also. The main and striking themes of his poetry are two- love and religion. His love poems are full of sensuous and amorous appeal. His feeling of love begins in the flesh and ends in mind. His religious poems are satiric and ironical. His poetic style is quaint and startling which is characterized by the use of far-fetched similes, metaphors and hyperbole (conceits), wit irony, condensation of thought, dramatic and colloquial quality unification of emotion and intellect, use of variegated allusions and references and logic in establishing his feeling and thoughts. He uses conceits not merely for embellishment but as the soul of his poetry. His conceits serve the purpose of argument to define, to persuade and to lead his feeling to a definite conclusion. His style makes him a difference from all his predecessors. His place in English literature rests especially on his love-poems and as a love- poet he is matchless in the whole range of English language.

John Donne was born in London in 1572. His father was a rich iron- merchant. In religious belief his parents were Catholic. He took his education at Oxford and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. From his studenthood, he suffered from internal as well as external conflict of religion. Gradually he repudiated the Catholic Church and renounced all denomination and called himself simply Christian.

As Donne was quaint in his poetic style, so was his personal life. He studied hard in the morning and led a sort of Bohemian life in the evening. He visited women of ill fame and acquired a practical knowledge of amorous life. In 1596 he joined the expedition of Essex for Cadiz and Azores and on the sea, he found time to write poetry. After coming back home he became secretary to Lord Egerton. There he fell in love with Anne More the young niece to Lord Egerton. This love affair developed deep and he eloped with her and married her. For this Donne was cast to prison. Later on his father-in-law, Sir George More forgave the young lovers and settled a handsome allowance on his daughter. In 1617 Anne More died suddenly and on her death, her father ceased the allowance and Donne was left in extreme poverty. Then he became a preacher and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

He died in 1631.  0 0 0


Resource Book: The World Writers: Brief Biographies by Menonim Menonimus




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