Fall 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1952 |

Religious Cynicism in Donne’s Poetry

The popularity of Donne's poetry in the 20th Century has been based predominantly on the Songs and Sonets—that is to say, on the love poems. There has inevitably been a good deal of speculation about Donne's sex life, and more has been written about his attitude to women than an interest in his poetry justifies. The defenders of Donne's moral character have lately been to the fore. An Oxford don, Mr. J. B. Leishman, in a recent book on Donne, The Monarch of Wit, compares Donne's pleasure in writing the "outrageous" poems to that "which small boys who ring doorbells and fling gravel at windows find in the sudden appearance of an angry face." In general he agrees with a Cambridge don, Mrs. Bennett, who hopes to persuade her readers that "Donne did not think sex sinful, and that contempt for women is not a general characteristic of his love poetry." Mrs. Bennett's essay, which is printed in Seventeenth Century Studies Presented to Sir Herbert Grierson, is an attempt to refute an essa

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Norman Douglas

By R. W. Flint

The popularity of Donne's poetry in the 20th Century has been based predominantly on the Songs and Sonets—that is to say, on the love poems. There has inevitably been a […]

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