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Donne, John

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24241.  Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:39 pm Reply with quote

John Donne (1572-1631) was born into a devout Catholic family, related on his motherís side to Sir Thomas More. His uncle Jasper (Heywood) was the leader of the Jesuits in England.

His father, a prominent member of the London Ironmongerís Company, died when he was four, and his mother remarried six months later to a Catholic doctor. Educated at home by Catholic tutors, Donne went up to Oxford University at the age of 11.

He studied at Hart Hall (now Hertford College) which was popular with Catholics because it didnít have a chapel so their religion was less obvious. It is possible that Donne later transferred to Cambridge, but in any case, his Catholicism debarred him from taking a degree at either university.

He became a law student at Lincolnís Inn, and shortly afterwards his younger brother Henry died in prison after being arrested for harbouring a Catholic priest.

Donne renounced his Catholic faith and joined the navy. He was one of the gentlemen volunteers who fought with the Earl of Essex at the Sack of Cadiz in 1596 and the following year worked as a pirate with Sir Walter Ralegh, raiding Spanish treasure ships in the Azores.

One of his shipmates, Thomas, was the elder son of Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. On leaving the navy, Donne became his secretary, and in 1601 was elected MP for Brackley, Northamptonshire, a seat in Egertonís control.

Later that year, however, Donne secretly married Ann More, Lady Egertonís niece. When the Egertons found out, Donne was sacked and sent to prison.

On his release, he lived in disgrace and penury for 14 years, having an enormous number of children and living off the charity of titled friends and his wifeís relativesĖ including Lucy, Countess of Bedford, Sir Robert Drury, Sir Walter Chute , Sir Henry Goodyer and Sir Robert Ker, Viscount Rochester (later Earl of Somerset).

Thanks to Ker, the ex-jailbird made the acquaintance of King James I who persuaded him to enter the Anglican church, appointed him a chaplain, and forced Cambridge University to make him a Doctor of Divinity.

The university was furious, regarding Donne as an opportunist and social climber. In 1617, his wife died at the age of 33, after giving birth to their 12th child.

Donne went off to serve as chaplain to the Earl of Doncaster on a diplomatic mission to Germany, and, in 1621, found favour with the Kingís favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, and was appointed Dean of St.Pauls, where he became one of the most famous preachers of his age.

He also wrote poems.

s: OCL

24248.  Fri Sep 16, 2005 3:11 am Reply with quote

... one of which contains a pun on his own name:
When thou hast done, Thou hast not done
For I have more

28014.  Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:32 pm Reply with quote

Don't forget the poem he wrote after his secret marriage and subsequent dismissal by Egerton. Donne later summed up the struggle he had to support his growing family with yet another pun on his name:

John Donne
Anne Donne

The family grew rather fast. Anne Donne died aged 33, after giving birth to their twelfth child, who was stillborn. Seven children survived their mother.

Donne was rather obsessed with his own death, and had a portrait of himself painted in his coffin, wearing a shroud. He also preached his own funeral sermon, Death's Duel only a few weeks before his death on March 31, 1631.

28031.  Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:07 am Reply with quote

The current chapel at Lincoln's Inn was

built between 1619-23 because its predecessor had become too small. Its opening service was led by the poet, John Donne who was the Inn's preacher from 1616-22 and who is forever linked with one of the traditions of the chapel. The chapel bell tolls 60 times every night at 9 o'clock. It also tolls when a bencher dies and clerks are known to have been sent to find out who has passed away. It is thought that it is this custom that Donne referred to in his famous poem, 'never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee'.

28115.  Mon Oct 24, 2005 1:11 pm Reply with quote

The monument to John Donne in St Paul's Cathedral rather miraculously survived the Great Fire of 1666 after the floor beneath it was destroyed and it fell through into the crypt. The monument depicts John Donne in a shroud and it was due to its solidity and the lack of extremities that it survived - there was nothing to break off when it fell.

Sorry, I'm not sure where to look for an official source for this info. One of the guides was telling on old lady about it when I was there.

Mostly Harmless
31580.  Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:22 am Reply with quote


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Mon Jan 09, 2006 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total

33335.  Mon Nov 21, 2005 11:13 pm Reply with quote

A discussion of the words 'thence' 'whence' and 'hence' on the Pronunciation thread reminded me of one of my favourite poems by John Donne - IMHO one of the most erotic poems of all time:

Elegy XIX: To His Mistress Going to Bed

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir'd with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's Zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th'eyes of busy fools may be stopt there.
Unlace your self, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envie,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flow'ry meads th'hills shadow steals.
Off with that wiry Coronet and show
The hairy diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then soflty tread
In this, love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven's Angels us'd to be
Receiv'd by men: thou Angel bringst with thee?
A heaven like Mahomet's Paradice, and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we eas'ly know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

License my roving hands, and let them go,
Behind, before, above, between, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man man'd,
My mine of precious stones: my emperie,
How blest I am in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.

Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be,
To tastes whole joyes. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in men's views,
That when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them:
Like pictures or like books gay covering made
For lay-men, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are mystick books, which onyl wee
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see rever'd. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a midwife show
Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence.
To teach thee I am naked first; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?

John Donne

33400.  Tue Nov 22, 2005 6:12 am Reply with quote

Until the Romantics at turn of the 18th century, mountains were generally considered ugly.

John Donne called them 'warts on the earth'.

s: The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (Bloomsbury, 2003)

45988.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:57 am Reply with quote



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