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Donne and Herbert

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Stephanie Womick

on 12 March 2013

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Transcript of Donne and Herbert

John Donne First order of business: "Donne" is pronounced just like "Dunn." Some pertinent biography:
Born into a prosperous Roman Catholic family, which suffered for its devotion (Remember, Catholics faced persecution, everything from denied entry to university and careers to execution)
Converted to the Church of England after several years of theological study
Married in secret; produced a large family that created a huge financial burden; his wife died at 33.
Reluctantly ordained as a minister; served as court preacher How might knowing this bit of his biography influence our expectations of his poetry? What kinds of things might we expect him to write? His work is often divided into two categories: secular and religious. It might be tempting to believe that these belong to two separate periods of his life, but he was writing both before and after his ordination as a minister. Conceit: "An elaborate and often surprising comparison between two apparently highly dissimilar things....involves strikingly original images or familiar things used in an unusual way....often take the form of extended metaphors....sometimes functions as the controlling image for the entire poem" (Murfin 70). "The metaphysical poets were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole
endeavor....The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together....they were not successful in representing or moving the affections" ~Samuel Johnson, 18th century writer and critic What does Johnson's criticism imply about what he values in poetry?
Are his statements fair? “The Flea”
Who is the implied audience addressed by the speaker?
What argument is the speaker making? Is his argument successful? What is the evidence?
How does the speaker create the sense that things are happening as he is speaking?
What conceit is Donne using in the poem?
In what way is the flea their “marriage bed and marriage temple” (line 13)?
What is it that parents grudge (line 14)?
What is the tone? How does the diction and/or syntax contribute to the tone? “The Sun Rising”
Why is the speaker basically telling the sun to “take a hike”?
How do the images in the poem correspond to Renaissance notions of the world? For example, the chain of being hierarchy?
How does the poem reflect an expanded view of the world? “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” Part 1
What is a valediction?
In what way does the speaker want the parting between himself and his love to be like “virtuous men passing mildly away” (line 1)? Why is it implied that virtuous men die peacefully and “whisper to their souls to go” (line 2)?
What is the laity (line 8)? How does this connect to “The Sun Rising”?
What is being described in the third stanza? How does it connect to the parting of the lovers? “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” Part 2
In the fourth stanza, what are “sublunary lovers”? Why are they dull? How are the compared/contrasted to the speaker and his love?
Why does the speaker say that he and his love will “endure not yet/ A breach, but an expansion” (lines 22-23)? In what way is their love “like gold to airy thinness beat” (line 24)?
Explain the compass conceit? Is this an effective visual comparison, or does it seem too far a stretch (ha, a pun!)? “Holy Sonnet 10”
Who is the speaker addressing?
What argument(s) is the speaker making? Explain his logic.
Discuss the different way in which the idea of sleep is being used? How are death and sleep being compared?
What is the tone of the poem? How do diction and/or syntax contribute to this tone?
What are the Christian themes of the poem? “Holy Sonnet 14” Part 1
Who is the speaker addressing?
Describe the diction used in the poem—what is the effect of this word choice on the reader?
What is it that the speaker wants to do but is unable to? What is the source of his inability? What is the solution?
Who is “your enemy” in line 10?
What role does “Reason” play in the speaker’s relationship with God?
What are the metaphors the speaker uses to describe his relationship with God and with the “enemy”? “Holy Sonnet 14” Part 2
Are the images of being assaulted (lines 1, 3-4), imprisoned (line 12), and ravished (line 14) by God merely disturbing? Or do they reflect theological principles?
As a conceit, is this metaphor effective? Does it give the reader fresh insight into his relationship with God by using unusual comparisons? Or, do you agree with Johnson’s criticism in this case, that Donne is just using showy displays of talent by yoking heterogeneous ideas together with moving the affections? In other words, does the poem show off head knowledge rather than expressing heart-felt emotions?
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