John Donne: Poems

Love and Religion in the poetry of John Donne 11th Grade

The metaphysical poets of the Renaissance sought to explore universal concepts of religion and and love against the backdrop of great social and religious change. The movement’s foremost contributor was arguably John Donne, whose poetry was innovative for its elaborate use of conceit in the representation and discussion of these enduring themes. Born Catholic into a time with strong anti-Catholic sentiments, Donne later renounced his faith and became an Anglican priest. This deeply personal relationship with spirituality enhanced his poetic exploration of desire. The profound effect of religion on his poetry is evident in Donne’s heavy use of religious imagery as a vehicle for expressing romantic love. To both reflect and challenge his era's changing societal values in The Canonization and A Valediction: forbidding mourning, Donne employs techniques favored by metaphysical poets, including paradox, rhetorical language and conceit.

Paradox was a regular tool of metaphysical poets in forcing audiences to re-examine pre-conceived ideas concerning love. Conventional love poetry of the era emphasized the elevation and objectification of woman, an Elizabethan belief which Donne sought to confront. However, Donne employs paradox to...

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