Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Donne - poet or musician?

I believe this is a photograph taken of a port...Image via Wikipedia
I have just found this (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article520308.ece) whilst doing some reading about John Donne and thought it was a really interesting way in which to look at his poetry. I am not at all musical, nor do I know a lot about Donne - who is someone I always intend to read more by -  but even without that expertise I can see the benefit of viewing some of his poems in this way. Whilst it is unlikely that the sonnets were set to music - partly because of their traditional form and partly because they contain their own lyricism, I do think that the use of questions frequent in lots of Donne's poetry - Woman's Constancy (http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/constancy.php) or the rhythm in the poem explicitly labelled Song (http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/sweetest.php) encourage it to have a similarlity to the musical verse used by Shakespeare, for example, in Twelfth Night.

Also, having just finished Stanley Wells' 'Shakespeare: Sex and Love' he makes a lot of the idea that a 'little death' is a pun on an orgasm - if this is true does it offer other interpretations of Donne's already heightened sexual imagery - in Holy Sonnet X for example? (http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/sonnet10.php)
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