John Donne - A Forgotten Name Published on:
29 Oct, 2021
Publishing, Literature, Editing
John Donne -Father of Metaphysical Poetry -known for all unique and rare comparisons between non-comparables was born in 1572.He was the eldest son of an iron merchant and London was his motherland. He did his matric from Oxford in 1584 and for higher education perhaps he went to Cambridge. Donne studied both Law and Religion.He wrote en- number of songs,elegies and satires before reaching the age of 25.He is also known as contemporary of Shakespeare and Marlowe,he shares the spirit of quality and renaissance with them both.
Donne has also been called "the Monarch of Wit" Dr. Johnson said that Donne's wit lay in the discovery of hidden resemblances in dissimilar things.
Another peculiar feature of his wit is that it comes to him in a natural flow because of his expansive knowledge.It impresses the readers with its vigorous life force and ingenuous use of words.
According to Leishman ,Donne's wit lies in his imprudent and shocking language.
His wit is actually classic in itself.It is the outcome of Donne's thoughtfulness and broader imagination.It is full of living and colorful images which he has portrayed through his words alone.It is a unique combination of striking sincere ideas , seriousness,variety of moods
Somewhere he wrote:
I saw Eternity on the other night.
He expressed himself completely in a new trend against the Petrarchan flow of conventions.
The variety of poems he crafted on Love are:
Love's war, Love's Diet, Love's Exchange,Love's Alchemy
He is a poet of intellect and high mental strength.He uses irony,a variety of similies in his poetry and creates a vivid and colorful picture of anything and any situation in the minds of the readers.
Donne has compared the qualities of a good lover to a great Samurai for their unparalled capacity to keep awake for nights and face the enemy headon with a bold gesture.
He begins with a pattern of thought and reaches to concluding decisions in the poems.Prof. Croft says about him," The brain-sick fancies are piled up ,twaddle upon untill the whole thing explodes with a passionate contrary or a familiar image."His ideas are completely novel and fresh.
At one place the poet compares the two lovers to the Phoenix ,to eagle and the dove.
The exaggeration in Donne's poetry is outrageous and very high spirited.
like at one place he says:
Go and catch a falling star
Get with child a mandrake root....
Being against conventionalism Donne loves to give shocking elements. His poetry is aesthetic as well as moral.
Dr. Johnson says that Donne's wit is a combination of dissimilar images ,a discovery of the occult resemblances in things unlike.The most heterogenous ideas are yoked together violently.
Dr. Johnson said that Donne's paradoxes can be compared to Epicurean deities as far as actions of men, intersts and emotions are concerned.
In conclusion we can say that Donne's poetry of wit is a good change from the conventional poetry.It rouses the interest and takes us away from all the boredom and depressive thoughts.There are no signs of self-pity and sympathy seeking spirit like Shakespeare's Hamlet.His poetry is a symbolic of the spirit of interrogation ,discovery and rebellion.It won't be exaggeration if we say that Donne made an effort to revitalise and invigorate English Language by making it flexible.
His important poem -The Anniversary is a record of domestic bliss where he depicts that love of Donne and his wife is eternal and is not subject to decay.
His poem - The Sun Rising -is a stern warning to the Sun not to disturb the lovers in their bed chamber as Sun's duty is to call on school boys and courtiers to enable them to be on work in time.
His song- Sweetest Love- speaks that though parting is painful but sincere love can never be parted in reality.It is his one of the most successful poems full of remarkable boldness and originality of thought.
In his poem -The Canonization - he called the lovers the Saints. He also compares their moving around eachother with flies,eagles and doves.
The Good Morrow - another one of his finest poems explains the complexity of love which begins with fun that is a dark time but as dawn approaches true nature is revaled and love reaches the zenith - the mutual understanding and purity of emotion between two souls.
He is the poet who gave us comparisons between Ladyfinger and a lady, insect bite and marriage bed, the circle drawn by a compass to the circle of life.
Truly he was and is a poet with difference, but alas! he is forgotten because of the difficult expressions he used.