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Selected Poems



Publisher writes

Regarded by many as the greatest of the Metaphysical poets, John Donne was also among the most intriguing figures of the Renaissance. A sensualist who composed erotic and playful love poetry in his youth, he was raised a Catholic but later became one of the most admired Protestant preachers of his time. "The Selected Poems" reflects this wide diversity, and includes his youthful Songs and Sonnets, epigrams, elegies, letters, satires, and the profoundly moving "Divine Poems" composed towards the end of his life.

From joyful poems such as "The Flea", which transforms the image of a louse into something marvellous, to the intimate and intense "Holy Sonnets", Donne breathed new vigour into poetry by drawing lucid and often startling metaphors from the world in which he lived. His poems remain among the most passionate, profound and spiritual in the English language.

Ilona Bell's introduction considers Donne's life, faith and influence. This edition also includes detailed notes and a further reading list.

Author Information

John Donne, (introduction by Ilona Bell)

John Donne (1572-1631) was the most outstanding of the English Metaphysical Poets and a churchman famous for his spellbinding sermons. Ilona Bell is Professor of English Literature at Williams College, Massachusetts. She has published widely on Renaissance literature and is the author of several books on Donne, his courtship, and his love poetry.

Judges' and contributors' comments

Cally Hammond, arguing that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe should be ranked higher than The Holy Sonnets: The Holy Sonnets are quite niche and quite difficult, and millions and millions of people read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and get something good and Christian out of it.

Mark Oakley: I’ve never seen a film of the The Holy Sonnets.

Mark Oakley: I know that Donne’s brain can sometimes go to his head, but The Holy Sonnets are beautiful, compelling, restless hymns from a riddle of a man to a God who can see exactly who he’s dealing with.

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