Donne, John - Vita ed Opere (2)John Donne was born in London in 1572, his father was a merchant. He was educated in the Catholic faith, and soon learned what it meant to be a catholic in England in that period: his uncles died in exile for being Jesuits and his brother died in jail. He had to leave Oxford without a degree because he refused to take the oath of supremacy, and he studied law at the Inn’s Court; he also visited Italy and Spain. In that period he wrote Elegies, Satires and Paradoxes and Problems.
He was brilliant, erudite, he had all the qualities of the dandy, the wit; he was ambitious, and attempted the diplomatic career, he also took part in a naval expedition, and in this period he conformed to the church of England. In 1601 there was a turning point in his life: he married secretly Ann More, the niece of his lord keeper’s wife, and as a result he was imprisoned and when released, he lost his position. The following years saw him fighting with poverty, he had to depend on charity; he had 12 children, and only 7 survived.
As a rule he didn’t write for publication bur for his pleasure; his finest poem was the Songs and sonnets. His first published work was Pseudo-Martyr, in 1610, and was an attack against Jesuits and Puritans.
Then he wrote Ignatius his conclave, a satire against Jesuits, and Biathanatos, dealing with suicide. Under James I’s pressure Donne took orders in 1615, and he was later appointed preacher. In 1617 his wife died at age of 33, and he wrote the Holy Sonnet: this collection is part of his Divine Poems, together with another group of sonnets called La Corona. From now he devoted himself to preaching. He was an impressive preacher for his intellectual vigor. The only work except sermons who wrote was Devotions upon emergent occasions. On 31 March 1631 John Donne died in London and was buried in St Paul’s.
Donne was the main exponent of a tendency in poetry against the smooth versification and the themes of Elizabethans, called Metaphysical. His poetry dealt with God, love, death and religion, written in the form of dialogue. He used conceits, puns and paradoxes. A conceit is a comparison between objects which seem to be completely unlike, famous is the comparison between lovers and hemispheres. A pun is when the same sound corresponds to different words or meanings. A paradox is a statement which seems to contradict itself, but has some hidden truth.