An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Paul's, Dr. John Donne
God, the Greeks, and Dr. Donne: Carew's Celebration of Donne's Monumental Work College
The poem “An Elegy Upon the Death of the Dean of Paul’s, Dr. John Donne” presents the monumental claim that John Donne was a class of poet far above his peers, positing that his mastery of language, originality of thought, and intellectual connection with his art surpassed the work of his contemporaries. The immensity of an artist’s legacy and the struggle to find a balance between modernity and tradition are explored throughout the poem; to exemplify these themes, author Thomas Carew uses the motif of gardening and metaphysical metaphors in the vein of Donne himself. Imagery pertaining to fire and allusions to the Greek tradition solidify the claim of Donne’s literary superiority, which culminates in a final epitaph which recognizes the extent to which Donne succeeds in heralding the Greek tradition of the past while remaining a servant of God in the present.
The act of gardening, in particular that of planting and pruning, is a motif meant to convey the intensity with which Donne cultivated his work. The speaker says that, “the Muses’ garden, with pedantic weeds o’erspread, was purged by thee; the lazy seeds of servile imitation thrown away, and fresh invention planted.” (25-28.) The image of the garden is later revisited,...
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