Saturday, 7 May 2011


I'm going to try something today. Something that has the potential to make life a little more interesting and productive for me, whilst sharing 'high brow' thoughts with you people. It has the equal potential, however, to fail miserably in a mixture of shocking and inappropriate essay writing and dull blogging.

My to-do list today includes both 'write an essay' and 'write a blog'. So in the name of all things economical (economical of my brain juices) - why don't I combine the two? I have faith that a 17th century poet can in fact be interesting, relatable to and address recognisable issues and emotions to the modern audience.

John Donne makes it easy for me with his wit, modern and intelligent insight, and clear arguments and ideas. In his early career he wrote love poetry. He was a 'metaphysical' poet; metaphysical meaning 'beyond physical'. This meant his poetry, and his images and concepts of love, often took on further meaning than just that of the physical and emotional side of it. The side of love that perhaps we find more commonly in poetry. For this reason his poems holds far more interest to me than your average, run of the mill love poetry. Some of the main features of a metaphysical poem are for instance, the presence of a 'conceit'; a comparison or metaphor that does not just appear once, but develops throughout the writing. His use of microcosm, creating intensity and emphasis. This links to his poetry's connection to the universe. Often he uses the enormity of the universe or elements of it to create a microcosm when he compares it to his subjects. The things I love most about John Donne, and the feature I believe makes his work stand out most of all, is his natural wit, humour and intellect. It is timeless, and from a modern reader's perspective I think it is incredible how ahead of his time his writing is.

I studied a couple of his poems this week with my tutor: 'The Flea' and 'A Valediction: forbidding mourning'. Both very different poems, but both displaying the features mentioned above. I'm a bit of an old romantic at heart and so love poetry generally, is nearing on perfection in my opinion. But what Donne does with the idea of love is really something special. We must remember that he was writing in the 17th century, a time when love would have been seen differently to the norm of today. Somehow though, (perhaps with the gift of a time machine, who knows?) Donne manages to write about a kind of love that we all experience. They must have experienced it in his day as there's a clear sense of him writing from first hand experience - a kind of dramatic monologue - but we can also be sure to associate with it now, in 2011. He talks about wanting sex, and finding women attractive (also known as 'fit'), he talks about long distance relationships (at least that's what I took out of it - he may have been talking more metaphorically), sometimes he's a bit cheeky and sometimes he shows great respect for women. Most of the time he shows great respect for women actually, even when he's being cheeky. All in all, I think he's a poet to adore.

I've been really struggling with being in a long distance relationship recently, and it's making me quite sad. When I read 'Valediction: forbidding mourning' I felt a little better. If you've read it, or plan to read it, don't think that I can relate to every ounce of its intensity. Of course not, it's poetry. It's not really about that. For me, I took from it a sense of partnership. It was quite heart warming. Although on the other hand he could have been trying to tell one lady friend that it doesn't matter that they don't see each other because their love with only grow stronger, when really he's doing another lady friend or two on the side. Who knows. I like to think not though. He seems pretty cool.

Now, I'm going to write a little more about the individual poems to send to my tutor. But I feel like writing even more than I already have here, might be a sure fire way of losing all my readers.

I'm driving to Brighton tomorrow for the first time. I'm nervous. I'm going to get up early so as the roads are quieter. Wish my luck. Good night.

ps. I haven't proof read this yet so there's bound to be mistakes. I'll do it in the morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment