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The Complete English Poems (1971)

by John Donne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,41359,115 (4.32)7
No poet has been more wilfully contradictory than John Donne, whose works forge unforgettable connections between extremes of passion and mental energy. From satire to tender elegy, from sacred devotion to lust, he conveys an astonishing range of emotions and poetic moods. Constant in his work, however, is an intensity of feeling and expression and complexity of argument that is as evident in religious meditations such as 'Good Friday 1613. Riding Westward' as it is in secular love poems such as 'The Sun Rising' or 'The Flea'. 'The intricacy and subtlety of his imagination are the length and depth of the furrow made by his passion,' wrote Yeats, pinpointing the unique genius of a poet who combined ardour and intellect in equal measure.… (more)

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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
Probably the greatest English poet. ( )
  Jennifertapir | May 17, 2009 |
Having read the first section, Songs and Sonnets, I can see why Donne enjoys a reputation as a 'difficult' poet. The tortured syntax combined with the number of words that have changed their meaning make several readings of each poem necessary just to be sure of the surface meaning, before one can even start thinking about the metaphors Donne uses and the symbolism he references.

Poems I particularly liked:
For the first twenty years since yesterday
Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm
When my grave is broke up again
He that cannot choose but love
Go and catch a falling star
Sweetest love, I do not go
Now thou hast loved me one whole day.

The second section, Elegies, was a bit easier. Some of them were very funny, particularly "Jealousy" and "The Anagram".

The third section, Epithalamions, was more comprehensible, although none of the poems really grabbed my attention.

The fourth section, Epigrams, was short, and mildly amusing, though no doubt went down better at the time when references to current events did not have to be explained.

I found the poems in the fifth section, Satires, difficult to follow, particularly as I was feeling a little bit hungover.

The sixth section, Metempsychosis, was easier to follow but felt rather pointless.

I must admit I found the seventh section, Verse Letters, difficult to understand and what I did understand was embarrassingly fulsome in its praise of the recipients.

The high praises in the eighth section, Epicedes and Obsequies, were more understandable since they were mourning poems, but the next section, Anniversaries, written on the anniversaries of a young girl's death, were way over the top.

The last section, Divine Poems, were, for me, the best in the book in that they were comprehensible and seemed to show real religious feeling rather than have been written to order. ( )
1 vote Robertgreaves | Jan 27, 2009 |
I love Donne's poetry, especially the Holy Sonnets. ( )
  oscewicee | Aug 28, 2008 |
Donne was essentially my entry into poetry, and as far as I am concerned, you can hardly get a better introduction. ( )
1 vote Arctic-Stranger | Mar 21, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Donneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Patrides, C. A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, A. J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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