John Donne Critical Quotes

Achsah Guibbory on inevitability of contradiction – “For Donne,
“For Donne, the process of examining emotional expereince inevitably produces poetry of contradicitons”

Achsah Guibbory on influences on love poetry – “he turns
“he turns to the Roman Ovid, rather than imitating the Petrarchan love poetry”

Achsah Guibbory on Narrative Voice – “Unlike his
“Unlike his contemporary Ben Jonson…Donne adopts different roles and postures”

Barbara Lewalski on Holy Sonnets – “Finding the
“Finding the whole of salvation traced in one’s own soul” (Non-Ignatian)

C.S Lewis on puzzles – “There are
“There are puzzles in his work, but we can solve them all if we are clever enough”

C.S Lewis on love poetry – “His love
“His love poetry is Hamlet without the prince”

C.S Lewis on love and hate – “The love
“The love of hatred and the hatred of love”

C.S Lewis on Metaphysical – “The very
“The very qualities which make him unsatisfying poetic food make it a valuable ingredient”

C.S Lewis on Love – “Love is
“Love is a god and lovers his clergy”

Izaak Walton on Narrative Voice – “There are
“There are two Donnes: Jack Donne; and Dr John Donne”

John Wall on Holy Sonnets – “His despair
“His despair is never without a move towards hope; his hope, never without a move towards despair”

Louis Martz on Holy Sonnets – “A continually
“A continually shifting series of dramatic moments…temporary conclusions…but all only for a ‘moment final'”

Michel Montaigne on Contradiction – “I find
“I find nothing more difficult to believe than man’s consistency, and nothing more easy than his inconsistency”

Ovid on Love – “Love is
“Love is a kind of warfare”

Peterson on Holy Sonnets – “The First
“The First Sonnet poses the problem that the sequence attemtps to resolve”

Samuel Jonson on Conceits – dicordia concorsi
dicordia concorsi – “the discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike”

Samuel Jonson on Wit – “Those writers
“Those writers who on the watch for novelty could have little hope of greatness”

Samuel Jonson on buried wit – “Genuine wit
“Genuine wit and useful knowledge may be sometimes found, buried in the grossness of expression”

Samuel Jonson on Metaphysicals as not being poets – “Instead of
“Instead of writing poetry they only write verse”

Samuel Jonson on Wit – “Wit which
“Wit which is at once natural and new…the metaphysicals have seldom risen”

Samuel Jonson on Hyperbole – “Confused magnificence
“Confused magnificence that…could not be imagined”

T.S Eliot on Complexity – “A development
“A development by rapid succession of thought which requires considerable agility on the part of the reader”

T.S Eliot on Metaphysical – “Poets more
“Poets more often named than read”

T.S Eliot on goal of the Metaphysicals – “Trying to
“Trying to find the verbal equivalent for states of mind and feeling”

T.S Eliot on Wit – “Donne elaborates
“Donne elaborates a figure of speech to the furthest stage to which ingenuity can carry it”

T.S Eliot response to Johnson – “All poetry
“All poetry is heterogeneous”

Thomas Carew on Metaphysical – Donne ‘purg’d’
Donne ‘purg’d’ ‘The Muses garden’, threw away’the lazie seeds / Of Servile imitation…And fresh invention planted’

William Kerrigan on power and love – “Donne’s love
“Donne’s love poetry stems from a frustrated sense of power”

Helen Gardner on Openings – “The brilliant
“The brilliant abrupt openings…are like the lump of gold flung down on the table”

John Carey on Biography – “The first
“The first thingto remember about Donne is that he was a Catholic; the second, that he betrayed his faith.”

John Carey on Complexity – “The complexities
“The complexities are not riddles to be solved, but natural and unresolvable, like living.”

John Carey on argument – “He treats
“He treats argument not as an instrument for discovering truth but as a flexible poetic accessory”

John Carey on Conceits – Angels, mummy,
Angels, mummy, mandrakes, maps, coins, and shadows, “they are meeting places for opposites.

Dennis Flynn on Religion and apostasy – “I propose
“I propose that we describe Donne not as an “apostate” or as a “blasphemer” but simply as a “survivor” of the Elizabethan persecution.”

Roger B. Rollin on Biography – Carey is
Carey is a ‘psychobiological critic’ for his reading of, “the Holy Sonnets as if each poem were a versified treatment of an actual event in Donne’s psychological life”

Ben Johnson on Narrative Voice – “Don[n]e for
“Don[n]e for not keeping accent deserved hanging.”

Samuel Coleridge on Wit – “With Donne,
“With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots, / Wreathe iron pokers into true-love knots; / Rhyme’s sturdy cripple, fancy’s maze and clue. / Wit’s forge and fire-blast, meaning’s press and screw.”

T.S Eliot on Biography – Donne “found
Donne “found no substitute for sense, / To seize and clutch and penetrate; / Expert beyond experience, // He knew the anguish of the marrow / The ague of the skeleton; / No contact possible to flesh / Allayed the fever of the bone.”

Pope on Wit – “that which
“that which has been often thought, but was never before so well expressed’

Douglas Bush on Liminality – “wandering between
“wandering between two worlds”

Wilbur Sanders on Dependence – “Donne felt
“Donne felt his dependence on God to resemble his dependence on secular patronage”

Samuel Johnson on Unrealism – “imitating
“imitating neither nature nor life”

William Hazlitt on Complexity – “Some quaint
“Some quaint riddles in verse, which the Sphinx could not unravel”

Thomas De Quincey on Rhetoric – “A rhetorician,
“A rhetorician, not a poet”

Leigh Hunt on Intellectualism – “To look
“To look at nothing as it really is but only as to what may be thought of it”

Thomas Arnold on Donne being too intellectual – “A poet
“A poet of feeling could never stop to elaborate”

T.S Eliot on Intellectualism – “Devour any
“Devour any kind of experience into the cerebral cortex, the nervous system, and the digestive tract”

Virginia Woolf on Opposites – His poetry
His poetry “admits contrasts and psychological intricacy”

Peter Conrad on Separation – “Donne’s dramatic
“Donne’s dramatic situations are analytic divorces”

Achsah Guibbory on Politics – “Love itself
“Love itself is political – involving power transactions between men and women”

Al Alvarez on Confidence – “Spenser seeks
“Spenser seeks erudition, and Donne sprezzatura”

T.S Eliot on Dramatic devices – “telescoping of
“telescoping of images”

Grierson on Donne as a Catholic – “Donne would
“Donne would not have become a Protestant in a Catholic country”

J.B. Leishman on argument
“An argumentative poet”

John Carey on Opposites – “Imagined Corners”,
“Imagined Corners”, “they are meeting places as opposites”

Stevie Davies on Sexism – “He attacks
“He attacks convention as castrated and sapless…he presents naked priapism and brags thereby his dangerous integrity”

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John Donne Critical Quotes. (2017, Dec 28). Retrieved from

John Donne Critical Quotes
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