John Donne: Paying Tribute to the Metaphysical Master

John Donne who is considered to be one of the wittiest poets of the seventeenth century emerged to the scene with respect only after TS Eliot recognized his metaphysical imagination. One of the characteristics of Donne which wins Eliot is his fidelity to emotion as he finds it. Eliot appreciated the complexity of feeling, rapid alterations in them and antitheses.

Donne pens the metaphysical poem “The Flea” and the religious poem “Holy Sonnet 14”. In both poems, Donne traces the two opposing themes – of physical and sacred love. In his love poem “The Flea,” he depicts the speaker as an immoral human being who is solely concerned with his pleasure. In his sacred poem “Holy Sonnet 14” Donne paints the speaker as a noble human being because he is anxious to delight God.

Donne is today considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works – which include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, songs, elegies, satires and sermons – are known for their strong, sensual style. His poetry is replete with vibrant language and inventiveness of metaphor, “especially compared to that of his contemporaries” (Wikipedia). Donne’s style is distinct and easily noticeable as his poems have abrupt openings and include various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations.

Aspiring poets and those who want to cultivate imagination cannot afford to miss his works, which are still unmatched and have no nearest competitor. However, he remained unrecognized for centuries until TS Eliot noted his discovery of metaphors and similes and admired him.

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