John Donne: Poems

Warming the World with the Stroke of a Pen: How Donne's Powerful Poetry Can Alleviate Mankind's Existential Woes

In many of the metaphysical poems in John Donne's literary canon, the poet assumes a voice that, as John Carey describes "...communicates itself through the dictatorial attitudes [he] adopts, through the unrelenting argumentativeness of his manner, and through the manipulation and violent combination of the objects of a sensed world in his imagery." Carey characterizes this tone as evidencing Donne's fascination with power as a central medium for thought-based expression. In "The Sun Rising" and "Death Be Not Proud" ("Holy Sonnet X") from Donne's "Songs and Sonnets" and "Holy Sonnets," respectively, the poet attempts to discredit commonly held beliefs regarding existential, philosophical, astrological, and religious principles and values to which most individuals throughout the history of human civilization have subscribed. Specifically, Donne resists the notions that the sun is the single most powerful entity and central to our cosmological framework, and that death is "mighty and dreadful" ("Holy Sonnet X") and therefore of grave import in understanding the purpose of life. He does this by personifying "the sun" and...

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