Donne as a Love Poet
John Donne is the centre of the metaphysical school of poetry. This school is known for its style. This style is marked by the use of conceits, wit, learning, elaboration and passionate thinking. John Donne is the founder of this school. Thus his poetry has all these qualities. His poetry falls into three divisions. Amorous poetry is one of them.
John Donne is known as a great love poet. His love poems show his intense personal moods as a lover and analyst of his own experience. It is said that Donne was a frequent visitor of ladies. He developed love affairs and friendship with a number of women. He fell in love with Anne More and eloped with her and married. He was imprisoned for his love. His experience of love made him a great love poet. Thus his love poems are based not on conventions but on his own experience.
John Donne has composed a number of love songs. They are intense and subtle analysis of lover's moods. They at times mingle with sensuality and finest wit like that of Byron. They are full of vivid pictures and wonderful language. This language is colloquial rather than conventional. His scholarship and knowledge gave to his love poems power and fascination. His view of love differed from the contemporary concept of love. His love changes from sensual to the spiritual. Most of his love poems are passionate or ironical, tender or teasing. Sometimes they touch the mystical heights. These poems are all metaphysical. Here there is a blend of sensuality, wit, joy, scorn, beauty and repulsion.
Commenting upon Donne's poetry John Bennett says, 'Donne's love poetry is not about the difference between the marriage and adultery, but about the difference between lust and love'. According to Grierson there are three distinctive strains of his love poetry: cynical, platonic and conjugal. That is why it is said that he has expressed his feelings of all phases of love.
Cynicism can be found easily in Donne's love poems. In Women's Constancy, The Indifferent, The Dream,and The Appreciation cynical strain is evident. Firstly, there is cynicism about women. In the cynical mood he finds women false. For him a woman is a bundle of contradictions. He never spares an opportunity to laugh at her inconstancy and faithlessness. But Donne is a wavering man who generally fluctuates about his views regarding women. At times he has regarded them as butterflies and at other times he has regarded them as angels. It all depends on his moods. In such poems there is frailty of man and his extra marital relations with ladies. His love changes from the lustful to the cynical because he sought to find heaven in conjugal love.
In Donne's poetry one can find platonic strain. This strain can be found in his poems like The Funerall, The Blossome and The Canonization. In these poems he regards love as true paradise. According to him love never dies. It is permanent. In The Canonization love has been regarded as a holy thing. Here he has treated his beloved as a saint. He says:
In Donne's love poems there is a strain of happy married and joy of conjugal love. It is expressed in many poems like The Anniversary, The Dream and The Canonization. In these poems the woman appear as angels and arts. The lyrics, which convey conjugal and sensual love, are intense, pure and sincere. They are full of spiritual passion:
In fact, as a love poet Donne tries to establish the union of the flesh and the soul. The mood and tone make his love poems a piece of reality. In short, he is an innovator of a new kind of love poetry. He can be called as one of the greatest love poets of English language. He is indeed a complete amorist amongst all. His capacity of experience is great and unique.