John Donne: Poems

Donne in literature

Donne has appeared in several works of literature:

  • An excerpt from "Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" serves as the opening for Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls, and also produces the book's title.
  • The William Styron novel Set This House on Fire has its title taken from one of Donne's sermons and an excerpt of that same sermon serves as the novel's epigraph.
  • Donne is the favourite poet of Dorothy Sayers' fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey, and the Wimsey books include numerous quotations from, and allusions to, his work.
  • Donne is mentioned in T.S. Eliot's poem Whispers of Immortality.
  • An excerpt from "Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" is paraphrased in E.B. White's essay "Death of a Pig."[24]
  • In Margaret Edson's Pulitzer prize-winning play Wit (1999), the main character, a professor of 17th-century poetry specialising in Donne, is dying of cancer. The play was adapted for the HBO film Wit starring Emma Thompson.
  • The plot of Neil Gaiman's novel Stardust is based upon the poem "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star," with the fallen star turned into a major character.
  • One of the major plotlines of Diana Wynne Jones' novel Howl's Moving Castle is based upon the poem "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star," with each of the lines in the poem coming true or being fulfilled by the main male character.
  • Donne's Songs and Sonnets feature in The Calligrapher (2003), a novel by Edward Docx.
  • In the 2006 novel The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, Donne's works are frequently quoted.
  • Donne appears, along with his wife Anne and daughter Pegge, in the award-winning novel Conceit (2007) by Mary Novik.
  • Joseph Brodsky has a poem called "Elegy for John Donne".
  • The love story of Donne and Anne More is the subject of Maeve Haran's 2010 historical novel The Lady and the Poet.
  • Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer prize-winning novel Gilead makes several references to Donne's work.
  • Donne's poem 'A Fever' (incorrectly called 'The Fever') is mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the novel "The Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris.
  • Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran writes a paper on Donne in Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History, in which he ties together Donne and Izaak Walton with help of an imaginary philosophy called "Metahemeralism".
  • Donne plays a significant role in Christie Dickason's The Noble Assassin (2011), a novel based on the life of Donne's patron and putative lover, Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford.
  • Donne is featured prominently in a number of Gwen Harwood's poems, including "A Valediction" and "The Sharpness of Death".

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