John Donne - Introduction To Young Readers Sample Answer

2006

Write an introduction to the poetry of John Donne for new readers. Your introduction should cover the following: (a) The ideas that were most important to him (b) How you responded to his use of language and imagery. Refer to the poems by John Donne that you have studied.

John Donne is widely known as a metaphysical poet. He wrote in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Due to the class Donne was affiliated with, and his educational background, his audience were generally the upper classes who were literate and well educated. Due to Donne’s provocative writing style it was often received as racy and controversial. The ironic and humorous elements of his poems focused on themes such as love and religion. Other than being a poet, Donne was also a cleric for the Church of England after converting from Catholicism. Metaphysical poetry deals with ideas of love, death, time, perfection and man’s relationship with God. These are all depicted through Donne’s language and imagery in his work.

Love was the strongest and most common subject of his poems and he also wrote sonnets. His desire to write about love was not just concerned with one simplistic idea. Donne enjoyed being unpredictable and often went against tradition; both on and off the page. He concerned himself with more than one facet of love. Donne’s poetry explores different realms within the idea of love and how we connect differently with love through our mind, body and spirit. In Donne’s poem ‘The Flea’ he speaks of love in an unconventional way. Donne uses the flea as an analogy of the love him and his beloved share. After the flea has bitten both of them, he writes of how their blood is now ‘mingled’ inside it. In the first stanza there is a lot of physical imagery and a kind of magnification of the flea that he romanticises. He speaks of how the flea ‘sucks’ and ‘sucked’ each of the subjects and mentions ‘blood’ twice. This depiction could be deemed grotesque and but Donne is juxtaposing and even converging...

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