Regarded by many as the greatest of the Metaphysical poets, John Donne was also among the most intriguing figures of the Elizabethan age.
A sensualist who composed erotic and playful love poetry in his youth, he was raised a Catholic but later became one of the most admired Protestant preachers of his time.
In his day it seemed to his admirers that Donne had changed the literary universe, and he is now widely regarded as the founder of the metaphysical 'school'.
Donne's poetry is highly distinctive and individual, adopting a multitude of rhythms, images, forms, and personae, from irresistible seducer to devout believer.
His greatness stems from the subtleties and ambivalences of tone that convey his remarkably modern awareness of the instability of the self.
This new 21st century digital collection of Donne's verse provides valuable insights into Donne's poetic genius.
From joyful poems such as 'The Flea', (which transforms the image of a louse into something splendid), to the intimate and intense Holy Sonnets, Donne breathed new vigor into poetry by drawing lucid and often startling metaphors from the world in which he lived.
His poems remain among the most profound, and spiritual in the English language.
JOHN DONNE (1572-1631) was born into a family of devout Catholics. He studied at Oxford University, traveled on the continent, and then studied law at Lincoln's Inn. In 1601 he married Anne More against the wishes of her uncle, Donne's employer: the decision cost him his career and earned him a short spell in prison. He was ordained as an Anglican minister in 1615, and in 1621 was made Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, a position he held until his death.