Presentation on theme: "The Journey of John Donne (1572- 1631). 1572 – The Journey Begins Bad News: Born into a deeply Catholic family in Elizabethan England when anti-Catholic."— Presentation transcript:
1572 – The Journey Begins Bad News: Born into a deeply Catholic family in Elizabethan England when anti-Catholic sentiment was high. Good News: Donne’s family was highly connected and influential. Result: Search for spiritual significance and identity begins
1584-1591 – Education Bad News: Unable to earn a degree because of Catholic family background. Good News: At age 12, enters Oxford University and later goes on to Cambridge. Result: Gains a highly privileged academic background and a lifelong love for learning.
1591-1597 – Sows “Wild Oats” Bad News: Watches his brother pay with his life in 1593 when he dies in prison for sheltering a priest. Good News: Mixes religion and academics by studying on his own. Result: Undaunted by restrictions, pursues the wild and unexplored through his writings as well as his life.
1598 – Gains a Reputation Bad News: Your beliefs are as important as your accomplishments. Good News: Rises in social influence. Result: Donne gathers a following that will prove invaluable to him in the future.
1601-1609 – Marriage/Scandal Bad News: Secrets one keeps, no matter how sincere, muddy deeper truths about your life. Good News: In Anne More, John finds and marries the love of his life. Result: As Carl Jung reminds us, “There is no coming to consciousness except through pain.”
Donne’s Holy Sonnets (Definitions) Sonnet was the fashionable poetic form of the 17 th century. Donne used an Italian style: an octave with one rhyme scheme, followed by a sestet in a differing rhyme scheme. “The image of the soul in meditation which the Holy Sonnets present is an image of a soul working out its salvation in fear and trembling.” – Helen Gardner, ed. John Donne: The Divine Poems, 1952.
Donne’s Holy Sonnets (Subjects) Questions about faith. God’s mercy and judgment. Human mortality and the immortality of the soul. Sin Damnation. Absolution and salvation.
Donne’s Holy Sonnets (Significance) In these works, young Donne despairs about his own salvation and fears death. In his later writings, he reflected an assurance of his salvation and an understanding that life is a preparation for life-everlasting and death should not be feared. None of these private works were published while Donne was alive.
1610-1614 – A New Beginning Bad News: No financial reward for his degree due to inability to firmly commit to Church of England. Good News: Recognition by the academic community at long last. Result: Once again, feeling aimless, Donne heads out for more explorations with new employer.
1615 – The Turning Point (1) Bad News: Loses four children and begins to reevaluate his life. Good News: Donne comes to accept his life’s vocation, becomes Anglican priest. Result: Donne’s education, political influence, and faith have a fortuitous and meaningful convergence.
1617 – The Turning Point (2) Bad News: Loses one of his greatest inspirations and loves with death of Anne. Good News: Finally recognized for who he is and what he believes. Result: The merging of his intelligence, passion, and poetic stylings leads to great respect by like- minded people.
Holy Sonnet xvii (an excerpt) “Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt To Nature... Wholly on heavenly things my mind is set... To seek thee, God.” At Anne’s death, Donne wrote this final Holy Sonnet, ending a long string of love poems. After this point, his writing turned to Godly matters. As one friend put it: his writing became “crucified to the world.”
Metaphysical Poetry (Background) Donne is considered the dominant figure of 17 th Century English writers who came to be known as the “metaphysical poets.” He, along with George Herbert and Andrew Marvell were linked, not through their common philosophies, but through their style – through their use of wit.
Metaphysical Poetry (What is wit?) Wit is “intelligent reason, powerful mental capacity, cleverness, ingenuity, intellectual quickness, inventive and constructive ability, a talent for uttering brilliant things, the point of amusing surprise.” – Louis Martz, ed. English Seventeenth-Century Verse, vol. I (1970), For Donne, this meant using surprising devices to startle readers and get them to see things in a new way. He did this through his use of the “metaphysical conceit.”
Metaphysical Poetry (The Conceit) A metaphysical conceit is an extended metaphor or analogy that joins two dissimilar images to make a point. “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” “The Flea” “Batter my heart, o three-person God”
1621-1631 – The Godly Conclusion Bad News: The world loses one of its greatest theologians and poets. Good News: There is reconciliation and there is redemption. Result: In 1633, Donne’s eldest son collects the poems Donne has passed around for 30 years into one volume for the world.
Signature Poem (“Death Be Not Proud”) Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore Death, nor canst thou kill mee; From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charms can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then? One short sleepe past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.
Signature Poem (“Death Be Not Proud”) Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore Death, nor canst thou kill mee; From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charms can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then? One short sleepe past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Death, be not proud Daniel Char English 12 Mr. Munson Death, be not proud
Questions for your essays: Defend Wit as a play that explores the thematic pattern of creation/fall/redemption. Analyze why Wit is the perfect title for this play. What does Vivian’s dying teach her about life? Detail how Wit illustrates the meaning of John Donne’s sonnet “Death Be Not Proud.” Explore the parallels between Vivian Bearing and E.M. Ashford with Jason Posner and Harvey Kelekian.
“This is my Playes Last Scene” by John Donne This is my playes last scene; here heavens appoint My pilgrimages last mile; and my race Idly, yet quickly rune, hath this last pace, My spans last inch, my minutes last point And gluttonous death, will instantly unjoynt My body, and soule, and I shall sleepe a space, But my’ever-waking part shall see that face, Whose feare already shakes my every joynt: Then, as my soule, to’heaven her first seate, takes flight, And earth-borne body, in the earth shall dwell, So, fall my sinnes, that all may have their right, To where they’are bred, and would presse me, to hell. Impute me righteous, thus purg’d of evill, For thus I leave the world, the flesh and devill.