Summer 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1951 |

Coherence of Theme in Donne’s Poetry

1 Hardy has a poem, "The Self-Unseeing," in which he records a scene that appears in retrospect as one of the moments of value in life but at the time not experienced vividly at its worth—"Yet we were looking away!" In Donne's work there occurs curiously often, in several different forms, an attempted insurance against some such failure of experience. In one of its forms it shows as a prolonged effort of anticipation, as though to ensure full responsiveness to the event when it did come. In the early work, of course, the long drawn out anticipation is of sexual experience; and this gives the broad pattern of the zestfully sensual poems, "To his mistress going to bed" and "Whoever loves, if he do not propose The right true end of love." The Epithalamions also served him well (apart from their social and pecuniary value) because they invited this process of leading up to the experience with an "impatient" anticipation that allows him to dwell longer and more vividly on the idea of s

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