The Complete English Poems

The Complete English Poems

by John Donne

Poets such as Eliot and Empson have found Donne's poetry profoundly attuned to our modern age, while Yeats' glowing comment will always be true: 'the intricacy and subtlety of his imagination are the length and depth of the furrow made by his passion.' This volume, superbly edited by Professor Smith, is the first complete edition to make a serious attempt to guide the reader closely through the complexities of Donne's poetry.

Considerable attention has been paid to the text, and a selection of the important manuscript variants are included.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Poetry
  • Rating: 4.14
  • Pages: 688
  • Publish Date: August 25th 1977 by Penguin Books
  • Isbn10: 0140422099
  • Isbn13: 9780140422092

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English graduate Warwick sprang into action, because this is a sonnet whose opening lines I have had by heart since the first time I read it: At the round earths imagin'd corners, blow Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise From death, you numberlesse infinities Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe although I forget how it goes on; something something fire shall o'erthrow. The most anthologised by far is The Flea, which is one of those male poet tries to talk his way into girl's knickers type of poems, and builds on a weirdly long tradition of erotic verse about fleas (especially popular in France, where puce flea usually involved some pun on pucelage maidenhead). There's one poem he writes from the point of view of Sappho writing to her female lover (and which has been called the first female homosexual love poem in English) where he gives free rein to his feelings of disgust for male sexuality: Thy body is a naturall Paradise, In whose selfe, unmanur'd all pleasure lies, Nor needs perfection; why shouldst thou than Admit the tillage of a harsh rough man?

He covers all the big three topics that great poetry should - Love, Death, and God - and, more often than not, he's covering all three at the same time in the span of 14 short, beautiful little lines of epic proportion.

I find myself compelled to sit there and figure it out.

Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide Late school-boys and sour prentices, Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride, Call country ants to harvest offices ; Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we, In that the world's contracted thus ; Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be To warm the world, that's done in warming us.

My favorite is A Hymn to God the Father: I Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, Which was my sin, though it were done before? Wilt thou forgive that sin, though which I run, And do run still: though still I do deplore? II Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin? Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year, or two: but wallowed in, a score?

She gave me a book of Donnewith dried flowers pressed in the pages. (Besides, who do you know can use the word unjoint and have it make sense?) This Is My Plays Last Scene, Here Heavens Appoint John Donne, Holy Sonnet VI This is my plays last scene, here heavens appoint My pilgrimages last mile; and my race Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace, My spans last inch, my minutes latest point, And gluttonous death, will instantly unjoint My body and soul, and I shall sleep a space; But my ever-waking part shall see that face, Whose fear already shakes my every joint: Then, as my soul, t heaven her first seat, takes flight, And earth-born body in the earth shall dwell, So fall my sins that all may have their right (To where theyre bred, and would press me) to hell.

"Communitie" especially is very intriguing, for while most of Donne's work seems to respect women, this poem considers them to be nothing more than possessions that men may use and discard as they see fit: Chang'd loves are but chang'd sorts of meat, And when hee hat the kernal eate, Who doth not fling away the shell?