John Donne was born in London in 1572 by a wealthy merchant of hardware, he was educated by his mother Elizabeth, daughter of playwright J. Heywood and great-grandson of Thomas More in Catholic circles. From 1584 he studied at Oxford. He attended (1591-1594) the legal institution of Lincoln's Inn. Soldier and courtier, he participated in the expeditions of the Earl of Essex to Cadiz (1596) and the Azores (1597). In 1601 he married Anne More, grandson of Lord Keeper Egerton that John Donne was secretary. A marriage thwarted. At this time the conversion to Anglicanism. Was a deacon in 1615. After many years of serious difficulties, died by the way the beloved wife, preacher now famous, was elected dean of Saint Paul (1621). Shortly before his death, seriously ill, in 1631, John Donne spoke the Lenten The duel of death (Death's duel), a masterpiece of the 'baroque macabre'.
Except the two Anniversaries (Anniversaries, 1611 and 1612), all the verses of women were published posthumously. The first edition of Poems (Poems) is 1633.
Another group of elegies is 1598-1615. The 1607-9 are the first religious poems that will culminate in the beautiful sacred Sonnets (Holy sonnets). In 1615 Sermons (Sermons, in three collections published in 1640, 1649 and in 1660-61).
Entertainment of a fine thinker are considered prose written in the last decade of the paradoxes of the '500, and issues written in the following decade. We do not know if they are really for Women: according to a fashion that developed among the literati of the time, are demonstrations paradoxically, with wit, logic, subtle wordplay, to the contrary of what the current opinion stated on topics like money ("Because gold does not stain your fingers?"), politics, love, women ("Defense inconstancy feminine").
Perhaps more interesting is the Biathanos, written between 1607 and 1608, in which he defends suicide. It does not seem that at the time he meditated killing: the operetta is intended part of his taste for litigation and theological casuistry and scholarship in general. Behind this apology, however, it remains an intellectual who did not accept any of the preconceived ideas of his time, trying on to defend even what seemed most reprehensible. His is not a work of psychological insight, but at least show respect those who choose such a path out of life. Women writes in the preface: "Every time the anxiety comes over me, I think that I have the keys to my jail, and no other remedy is presented with equal immediacy to my heart than my own sword. Often this belief led me to interpret the gesture with charitable spirit of those who are given the death. Whatever, before being considered good or bad, true or false it should be judged according to our ability to discern. "
To Women is a "naked thinking heart", rational and passionate. In the balance between opposites: medieval thought and new science, renaissance and reform, Catholicism and Protestantism, human and divine love, sin and death, man and god. In this dialectic, the moral and intellectual conflict of sensual poetry that embraces all forms of experience. The moral implications and cultural, literary and biblical quotes, images derived from science theology philosophy nature everyday reality, are concentrated in a very short space, according to a process analog. Hence a dramatic situation and pace. The verse, not forced by metrical stereotyped, adapts to the thought, in a kind of counterpoint inside. Characteristic of the discursive nature of certain passages, the initial attacks of colloquial. There is an apparent disarmonicità antipetrarchesca, language deliberately harsh. Through the skillful use of concepts, witticisms, the emblem, the thought becomes "thought apprensibile under" (TS Eliot) through concrete images and even sensual. In the "Sermons" dominates the symmetry, despite the abundant decorations rhetorical, while in "Songs and Sonnets" and "holy sonnets" curvy shapes and asymmetrical mannerism express the conflict between intellect and senses.