Wednesday, June 29, 2011

John Donne-Biography

The son of a prosperous ironmonger of Welsh, John Donne was born in London, England in 1572, and was raised a Londoner and a Roman Catholic. His mother, Elizabeth, a great niece of Sir Thomas More came from a cultured, devout family: her father, John Heywood, wrote interludes (short plays that are put on during breaks in other entertainment); and her son Henry, John's brother, died in 1593 of a fever caught in Newgate Prison, where he was imprisoned for sheltering a Roman Catholic priest. Donne's father died when John was four, and his mother married a well-known physician. Donne was educated at home by Roman Catholic tutors until he was twelve years old. John and his brother Henry were then admitted to Oxford University, where he spent approximately three years.
After some years at Oxford (from 1584) and possibly Cambridge, Donne studied law at Lincoln's Inn from 1592 to 1594. It was also in the 1590s that he wrote many of his love poems. He also composed poetic letters, funeral songs, and witty remarks, which were published after his death as Songs and Sonnets.
He was dismissed from his post and temporarily imprisoned, and for about a decade he and his growing family were largely dependent on relatives and patrons.
Donne continued to write worldly poems and, about 1609 or 1610, he produced a powerful series of "Holy Sonnets," in which he reflected on sickness, death, sin, and the love of God.. He briefly served as a Member of Parliament in 1601 and again in 1614.
In 1615 Donne was ordained. A serious illness in 1623 inspired his Devotions, which are moving meditations on sickness, death, and salvation.
In 1631, Donne left his sickbed to preach his last and most famous sermon, "Death's Duel." On March 31, 1631, he died.
Donne's was a complex personality, an unusual blend of passion, zeal, and brilliance; God and women were his favorite themes, but his subject otherwise ranged over the pagan (people who do not worship the Christian God) and the religious, the familiar and the unclear, the sarcastic and the sincere, the wittily bright and the religiously wise.

D.N. Aloysius

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