Donne, John

John Donne

John Donne

The English poet, satirist, and lawyer John Donne was born in 1572 in London. He was born into a recusant Roman Catholic family and became an Anglican priest at King James I insistence, even though he did not wish to take Anglican orders.

Donne married Anne More in 1601 and she bore him 12 children. She died five days after giving birth to their twelfth child, who was still-born.

“His works are noted for their strong, sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries. Donne’s style is characterised by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques”.

Donne died on 31 March 1631, possibly of stomach cancer.

Read a selection of John Donne’s poems