John Donne's Songs and Sonnets by John Donne

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Critical Overview

Donne enjoyed a good reputation as a poet in the generation after his death, but by the end of the seventeenth century, critics such as John Dryden and Alexander Pope faulted his poetry for the lack of regularity in its rhythm and the blatant sexuality of its content. Dryden first used the term “metaphysical” to criticize Donne’s “excessive use of philosophy,” and Samuel Johnson used it to describe poets who wrote to “show their learning.” Johnson also criticized Donne for what became known as the “metaphysical conceit,” in which (says Johnson) “the most heterogeneous ideas are joked by violence together.” As a result, by the eighteenth century, John Donne as a poet was forgotten. Although Romantics such as Samuel Coleridge and Charles Lamb began to rediscover the beauty in Donne’s verse,...

(The entire section is 263 words.)