22 January 1573|
31 March 1631 58) (aged|
|Occupation||Poet, priest, lawyer|
|Alma mater||Oxford University|
|Genre||Satire, love poetry, elegy, sermons|
|Subject||Love, sexuality, religion, death|
|Literary movement||Metaphysical poetry|
He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are noted for their strong, sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries. Donne's style is characterised by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques. His early career was marked by poetry that bore immense knowledge of English society and he met that knowledge with sharp criticism. Another important theme in Donne's poetry is the idea of true religion, something that he spent much time considering and about which he often theorized. He wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems. He is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits.
Despite his great education and poetic talents, Donne lived in poverty for several years, relying heavily on wealthy friends. He spent much of the money he inherited during and after his education on womanising, literature, pastimes, and travel. In 1601, Donne secretly married Anne More, with whom he had twelve children. In 1615, he became an Anglican priest, although he did not want to take Anglican orders. He did so because King James I persistently ordered it. In 1621, he was appointed the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London. He also served as a member of Parliament in 1601 and in 1614.
Donne was born in London, into a recusant Roman Catholic family when practice of that religion was illegal in England. Donne was the third of six children. His father, also named John Donne, was of Welsh descent and a warden of the Ironmongers Company in the City of London. Donne's father was a respected Roman Catholic who avoided unwelcome government attention out of fear of persecution.
His father died in 1576, when Donne was four years old, leaving his son fatherless and his widow, Elizabeth Heywood, with the responsibility of raising their children alone. Heywood was also from a recusant Roman Catholic family, the daughter of John Heywood, the playwright, and sister of the Reverend Jasper Heywood, a Jesuit priest and translator. She was a great-niece of the Roman Catholic martyr Thomas More. This tradition of martyrdom would continue among Donne's closer relatives, many of whom were executed or exiled for religious reasons. Donne was educated privately; however, there is no evidence to support the popular claim that he was taught by Jesuits. Donne's mother married Dr. John Syminges, a wealthy widower with three children, a few months after Donne's father died. Donne thus acquired a stepfather. Two more of his sisters, Mary and Katherine, died in 1581. Donne's mother lived her last years in the Deanery after Donne became Dean of St Paul's, and died just two months before Donne, in January 1631 .
In 1583, the 11-year-old Donne began studies at Hart Hall, now Hertford College, Oxford. After three years of studies there, Donne was admitted to the University of Cambridge, where he studied for another three years. However, Donne could not obtain a degree from either institution because of his Catholicism, since he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy required to graduate.
In 1591 Donne was accepted as a student at the Thavies Inn legal school, one of the Inns of Chancery in London. On 6 May 1592 he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn, one of the Inns of Court. In 1593, five years after the defeat of the Spanish Armada and during the intermittent Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), Queen Elizabeth issued the first English statute against sectarian dissent from the Church of England, titled "An Act for restraining Popish recusants". It defined "Popish recusants" as those "convicted for not repairing to some Church, Chapel, or usual place of Common Prayer to hear Divine Service there, but forbearing the same contrary to the tenor of the laws and statutes heretofore made and provided in that behalf". Donne's brother Henry was also a university student prior to his arrest in 1593 for harbouring a Catholic priest, William Harrington, whom he betrayed under torture. Harrington was tortured on the rack, hanged until not quite dead, and then subjected to disembowelment. Henry Donne died in Newgate Prison of bubonic plague, leading Donne to begin questioning his Catholic faith.
During and after his education, Donne spent much of his considerable inheritance on women, literature, pastimes and travel. Although no record details precisely where Donne travelled, he did cross Europe and later fought with the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Raleigh against the Spanish at Cadiz (1596) and the Azores (1597), and witnessed the loss of the Spanish flagship, the San Felipe. According to Izaak Walton, who wrote a biography of Donne in 1658:
... he returned not back into England till he had stayed some years, first in Italy, and then in Spain, where he made many useful observations of those countries, their laws and manner of government, and returned perfect in their languages.
By the age of 25 he was well prepared for the diplomatic career he appeared to be seeking. He was appointed chief secretary to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Thomas Egerton, and was established at Egerton's London home, York House, Strand close to the Palace of Whitehall, then the most influential social centre in England.
Marriage to Anne More
During the next four years Donne fell in love with Egerton's niece Anne More, and they were secretly married just before Christmas in 1601, against the wishes of both Egerton and George More, who was Lieutenant of the Tower and Anne's father. Upon discovery, this wedding ruined Donne's career, getting him fired and put in Fleet Prison, along with minister Samuel Brooke, who married them, and the man who acted as a witness to the wedding. Donne was released shortly thereafter when the marriage was proven valid, and he soon secured the release of the other two. Walton tells us that when Donne wrote to his wife to tell her about losing his post, he wrote after his name: John Donne, Anne Donne, Un-done. It was not until 1609 that Donne was reconciled with his father-in-law and received his wife's dowry.
After his release, Donne had to accept a retired country life in a small house in Pyrford, Surrey, owned by Anne's cousin, Sir Francis Wooley, where they resided until the end of 1604. In spring 1605 they moved to another small house in Mitcham, London, where he scraped a meager living as a lawyer, while Anne Donne bore a new baby almost every year. Though he also worked as an assistant pamphleteer to Thomas Morton writing anti-Catholic pamphlets, Donne was in a constant state of financial insecurity.
Anne bore John 12 children in 16 years of marriage, (including two stillbirths — their eighth and then, in 1617, their last child); indeed, she spent most of her married life either pregnant or nursing. The 10 surviving children were Constance, John, George, Francis, Lucy (named after Donne's patron Lucy, Countess of Bedford, her godmother), Bridget, Mary, Nicholas, Margaret, and Elizabeth. Three (Francis, Nicholas, and Mary) died before they were ten. In a state of despair that almost drove him to kill himself, Donne noted that the death of a child would mean one mouth fewer to feed, but he could not afford the burial expenses. During this time, Donne wrote but did not publish Biathanatos, his defense of suicide. His wife died on 15 August 1617, five days after giving birth to their twelfth child, a still-born baby. Donne mourned her deeply, and wrote of his love and loss in his 17th Holy Sonnet.
Career and later life
In 1602 John Donne was elected as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Brackley, but this was not a paid position. Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, being succeeded by King James I of Scotland. The fashion for coterie poetry of the period gave Donne a means to seek patronage, and many of his poems were written for wealthy friends or patrons, especially MP Sir Robert Drury of Hawsted (1575–1615), whom he met in 1610 and became Donne's chief patron, furnishing him and his family an apartment in his large house in Drury Lane.
In 1610 and 1611 Donne wrote two anti-Catholic polemics: Pseudo-Martyr and Ignatius His Conclave for Morton. He then wrote two Anniversaries, An Anatomy of the World (1611) and Of the Progress of the Soul (1612) for Drury. Although James was pleased with Donne's work, he refused to reinstate him at court and instead urged him to take holy orders. At length, Donne acceded to the king's wishes, and in 1615 was ordained into the Church of England.
In 1615 Donne was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Cambridge University, and became a Royal Chaplain in the same year, and a Reader of Divinity at Lincoln's Inn in 1616, where he served in the chapel as minister until 1622. In 1618 he became chaplain to Viscount Doncaster, who was on an embassy to the princes of Germany. Donne did not return to England until 1620. In 1621 Donne was made Dean of St Paul's, a leading and well-paid position in the Church of England, which he held until his death in 1631. During his period as dean his daughter Lucy died, aged eighteen. In late November and early December 1623 he suffered a nearly fatal illness, thought to be either typhus or a combination of a cold followed by a period of fever. During his convalescence he wrote a series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness that were published as a book in 1624 under the title of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. One of these meditations, Meditation XVII, later became well known for its phrases "No man is an Iland" (often modernised as "No man is an island") and "...for whom the bell tolls". In 1624 he became vicar of St Dunstan-in-the-West, and 1625 a prolocutor to Charles I. He earned a reputation as an eloquent preacher and 160 of his sermons have survived, including the famous Death’s Duel sermon delivered at the Palace of Whitehall before King Charles I in February 1631.
It is thought that Donne's final illness was stomach cancer, although this has not been proven. He died on 31 March 1631 having written many poems, most of which were circulated in manuscript during his lifetime. Donne was buried in old St Paul's Cathedral, where a memorial statue of him was erected (carved from a drawing of him in his shroud), with a Latin epigraph probably composed by himself. Donne's monument survived the 1666 fire, and is on display in the present building.
Donne's earliest poems showed a developed knowledge of English society coupled with sharp criticism of its problems. His satires dealt with common Elizabethan topics, such as corruption in the legal system, mediocre poets, and pompous courtiers. His images of sickness, vomit, manure, and plague reflected his strongly satiric view of a world populated by all the fools and knaves of England. His third satire, however, deals with the problem of true religion, a matter of great importance to Donne. He argued that it was better to examine carefully one's religious convictions than blindly to follow any established tradition, for none would be saved at the Final Judgment, by claiming "A Harry, or a Martin taught [them] this."
Donne's early career was also notable for his erotic poetry, especially his elegies, in which he employed unconventional metaphors, such as a flea biting two lovers being compared to sex. In "Elegy XIX: To His Mistris Going to Bed" he poetically undressed his mistress and compared the act of fondling to the exploration of America. In "Elegy XVIII" he compared the gap between his lover's breasts to the Hellespont. Donne did not publish these poems, although he did allow them to circulate widely in manuscript form.
... any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee..
Some have speculated that Donne's numerous illnesses, financial strain, and the deaths of his friends all contributed to the development of a more somber and pious tone in his later poems. The change can be clearly seen in "An Anatomy of the World" (1611), a poem that Donne wrote in memory of Elizabeth Drury, daughter of his patron, Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead, Suffolk. This poem treats Elizabeth's demise with extreme gloominess, using it as a symbol for the Fall of Man and the destruction of the universe.
The poem "A Nocturnal upon S. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day", concerns the poet's despair at the death of a loved one. In it Donne expresses a feeling of utter negation and hopelessness, saying that "I am every dead thing ... re-begot / Of absence, darkness, death." This famous work was probably written in 1627 when both Donne's friend Lucy, Countess of Bedford, and his daughter Lucy Donne died. Three years later, in 1630, Donne wrote his will on Saint Lucy's Day (13 December), the date the poem describes as "Both the year's, and the day's deep midnight".
The increasing gloominess of Donne's tone may also be observed in the religious works that he began writing during the same period. His early belief in the value of scepticism now gave way to a firm faith in the traditional teachings of the Bible. Having converted to the Anglican Church, Donne focused his literary career on religious literature. He quickly became noted for his sermons and religious poems. The lines of these sermons and devotional works would come to influence future works of English literature, such as Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, which took its title from a passage in Meditation XVII of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, and Thomas Merton's No Man is an Island, which took its title from the same source.
Towards the end of his life Donne wrote works that challenged death, and the fear that it inspired in many men, on the grounds of his belief that those who die are sent to Heaven to live eternally. One example of this challenge is his Holy Sonnet X, "Death Be Not Proud", from which come the famous lines "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so." Even as he lay dying during Lent in 1631, he rose from his sickbed and delivered the Death's Duel sermon, which was later described as his own funeral sermon. Death's Duel portrays life as a steady descent to suffering and death, yet sees hope in salvation and immortality through an embrace of God, Christ and the Resurrection.
His work has received much criticism over the years, especially concerning his metaphysical form. Donne is generally considered the most prominent member of the metaphysical poets, a phrase coined in 1781 by Samuel Johnson, following a comment on Donne by John Dryden. Dryden had written of Donne in 1693: "He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses of love." In Life of Cowley (from Samuel Johnson's 1781 work of biography and criticism Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets), Johnson refers to the beginning of the seventeenth century in which there "appeared a race of writers that may be termed the metaphysical poets". Donne's immediate successors in poetry therefore tended to regard his works with ambivalence, with the Neoclassical poets regarding his conceits as abuse of the metaphor. However he was revived by Romantic poets such as Coleridge and Browning, though his more recent revival in the early twentieth century by poets such as T. S. Eliot and critics like F R Leavis tended to portray him, with approval, as an anti-Romantic.
Donne is considered a master of the metaphysical conceit, an extended metaphor that combines two vastly different ideas into a single idea, often using imagery. An example of this is his equation of lovers with saints in "The Canonization". Unlike the conceits found in other Elizabethan poetry, most notably Petrarchan conceits, which formed clichéd comparisons between more closely related objects (such as a rose and love), metaphysical conceits go to a greater depth in comparing two completely unlike objects. One of the most famous of Donne's conceits is found in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" where he compares two lovers who are separated like the two legs of a compass.
Donne's works are also witty, employing paradoxes, puns, and subtle yet remarkable analogies. His pieces are often ironic and cynical, especially regarding love and human motives. Common subjects of Donne's poems are love (especially in his early life), death (especially after his wife's death), and religion.
John Donne's poetry represented a shift from classical forms to more personal poetry. Donne is noted for his poetic metre, which was structured with changing and jagged rhythms that closely resemble casual speech (it was for this that the more classical-minded Ben Jonson commented that "Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging").
Some scholars believe that Donne's literary works reflect the changing trends of his life, with love poetry and satires from his youth and religious sermons during his later years. Other scholars, such as Helen Gardner, question the validity of this dating—most of his poems were published posthumously (1633). The exception to these is his Anniversaries, which were published in 1612 and Devotions upon Emergent Occasions published in 1624. His sermons are also dated, sometimes specifically by date and year.
Donne influenced W. B. Yeats, Hemingway, Seán Ó Ríordáin, T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and W. H. Auden. Sylvia Plath, interviewed on BBC Radio in late 1962, said the following about a book review of her collection of poems titled The Colossus and Other Poems that had been published in the United Kingdom two years earlier: "I remember being appalled when someone criticised me for beginning just like John Donne but not quite managing to finish like John Donne, and I felt the weight of English literature on me at that point."
The memorial to Donne, modelled after the engraving pictured above, was one of the few such memorials to survive the Great Fire of London in 1666 and now appears in St Paul's Cathedral where Donne is buried. In 2012 a bust of Donne by the sculptor Nigel Boonham was unveiled in St Paul's Cathedral Churchyard.
Donne has appeared in several works of literature:
- An excerpt from "Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" serves as the opening for Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, and also produces the book's title.
- The William Styron novel Set This House on Fire has its title taken from one of Donne's sermons and an excerpt of that same sermon serves as the novel's epigraph.
- Donne is the favourite poet of Dorothy Sayers' fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey, and the Wimsey books include numerous quotations from, and allusions to, his work.
- Donne is mentioned in T. S. Eliot's poem Whispers of Immortality.
- An excerpt from "Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" is paraphrased in E.B. White's essay "Death of a Pig."
- In Margaret Edson's Pulitzer prize-winning play Wit (1999), the main character, a professor of 17th-century poetry specialising in Donne, is dying of cancer. The play was adapted for the HBO film Wit starring Emma Thompson.
- The plot of Neil Gaiman's novel Stardust is based upon the poem "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star," with the fallen star turned into a major character.
- One of the major plotlines of Diana Wynne Jones' novel Howl's Moving Castle is based upon the poem "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star," with each of the lines in the poem coming true or being fulfilled by the main male character.
- Donne's Songs and Sonnets feature in The Calligrapher (2003), a novel by Edward Docx.
- In the 2006 novel The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, Donne's works are frequently quoted.
- Donne appears, along with his wife Anne and daughter Pegge, in the award-winning novel Conceit (2007) by Mary Novik.
- Joseph Brodsky has a poem called "Elegy for John Donne".
- The love story of Donne and Anne More is the subject of Maeve Haran's 2010 historical novel The Lady and the Poet.
- Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer prize-winning novel Gilead makes several references to Donne's work.
- Donne's poem 'A Fever' (incorrectly called 'The Fever') is mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the novel The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.
- Edmund "Bunny" Corcoran writes a paper on Donne in Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History, in which he ties together Donne and Izaak Walton with help of an imaginary philosophy called "Metahemeralism".
- Donne plays a significant role in Christie Dickason's The Noble Assassin (2011), a novel based on the life of Donne's patron and putative lover, Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford.
- Donne is featured prominently in a number of Gwen Harwood's poems, including "A Valediction" and "The Sharpness of Death".
Donne in popular culture
- In the movie The Incredibles, the location of the antagonist's lair is called Nomanisan Island. This is a combination of the phrase "No_man_is_an island", from Meditation XVII.
- The English composer Benjamin Britten arranged The Holy Sonnets of John Donne (Opus 35) for piano and voice.
- The lines "I runne to Death, and Death meets me as fast, and all my Pleasures are like Yesterday" from the "Holy Sonnet VII" are being quoted in the final scene of Val Lewton's 1943 horror movie The Seventh Victim. Another Lewton produced film, Cat People (1942) directed by Jacques Tourneur, closes with a quote from the Holy Sonnets: "But black sin hath betrayed to endless night. My world's both parts and, O, both parts must die."
- In 1962, Donne's works were cited by physicist Robert Oppenheimer as having been the inspiration for choosing the code name "Trinity" for the first nuclear bomb test, specifically the passage
- John Renbourn, on his 1966 debut album John Renbourn, sings a version of the poem, "Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star". (He alters the last line to "False, ere I count one, two, three.")
- Tarwater, in their album Salon des Refusés, have put "The Relic" to song.
- Bob Chilcott has arranged a choral piece to Donne's "Go and Catch a Falling Star".
- Van Morrison pays tribute to the poet in "Rave On John Donne" from his album Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and makes references in many other songs.
- Lost in Austen, the British miniseries based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, has Bingley refer to Donne when he describes taking Jane to America, "John Donne, don't you know? 'License my roving hands,' and so forth."
- Las Cruces, in their album Ringmaster, used a sample of "Death be not Proud" from the movie The Exorcist III for their song "Black Waters".
- In the beginning of the movie About a Boy, the quiz show mentions "No man is an island", asking the competitors who coined the phrase. Donne is one of the answers and is of course, the correct answer. Hugh Grant, the main character, turns off the TV before viewers are given the answer, and he himself answers the question incorrectly.
- In the computer game The Walking Dead, one of the side characters, Chuck, says "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee", a common misquotation of a passage from Donne's "Meditation XVII".
- Michael John Trotta has used the text from "Break of Day" in a choral setting for SATB voices.
- Donne's poem "Love's Deity" serves as the lyrical basis for the song "God of Love" by Stereo Alchemy featuring Melissa Kaplan.
- The Lady and the Poet by Maeve Haran is a work of historical fiction, detailing the life of Donne's wife Ann More, her meeting, and subsequent illicit relationship with Donne himself.
- In the opening scene of the episode "Rent" of the television series Outlander (S01E05), Caitriona Balfe, as Claire Randall, and soon joined by Bill Paterson, as Ned Gowan, recites the opening stanza of the poem “Absence, Hear thou my Protestation”, which they attribute to John Donne:
- Absence, hear thou my protestation
- Against thy strength,
- Distance and length:
- Do what thou canst for alteration;
- For hearts of truest mettle
- Absence doth still [sic: join], and time doth settle.
- The poem has also been attributed to the poet John Hoskins.
- In 2009, the American composer Jennifer Higdon composed the choral piece On the Death of the Righteous set to the text of Donne.
- In 2015, the Russian сomposer Anton Batagov released a recording of the vocal cycle to the poerty of John Donne "I Fear No More. Selected Songs and Meditations of John Donne" composed by him and performed by The State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia.
- In the television series Alias, there are references to John Donne, and the opening lines of "No Man is an Island" are recited by CIA/SD6 double agent Sydney Bristow to unlock the subconscious of a man who was programmed to be an assassin.
- Some of Donne's "Death Be Not Proud" is quoted in a season two episode of the British dark comedy television series Psychoville.
- Biathanatos (1608)
- Pseudo-Martyr (1610)
- Ignatius His Conclave (1611)
- Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
- Poems (1633)
- Long, William J. (2013). English Literature: Its History and Significance for the Life of the English-Speaking World. Start Classics. ISBN 978-1-62793-876-1.
- Colclough, "Donne, John (1572–1631)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, October 2007 oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 18 May 2010
- "John Donne Biography".
- "The Life of John Donne (1572-1631)".
- Portraits of John Donne at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Schama, Simon (26 May 2009). "Simon Schama's John Donne". BBC2. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
- "Donne, John" by Richard W. Langstaff. Article from Collier's Encyclopedia, Volume 8. Bernard Johnston, general editor. P.F. Colliers Inc., New York: 1988. pp. 346–349.
- "Donne, John". Article in British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary. Edited by Stanley Kunitz and Howard Haycraft. The H.W. Wilson Company, New York: 1952. pp. 156–158
- Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton anthology of English literature Eighth edition. W. W. Norton and Company, 2006. ISBN 0-393-92828-4. pp. 600–602
- "Donne, John (DN615J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Walton, Izaak (1999). Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death's Duel. New York: Random House. p. 180. ISBN 0375705481.
- Will and Ariel Durant. The Story of Civilization: Part VII: The Age of Reason Begins. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1961. pp. 154–156.
- Walton, Izaak. The life of John Donne, Dr. in Divinity, and late Dean of Saint Pauls, pr. by J. G. for R. Marriot, 1658.
- "Brooke, Samuel". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Jokinen, Anniina. "The Life of John Donne". Luminarium, 22 June 2006. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
- "John Donne".
- Stephen Greenblatt, ed. (2012). "John Donne, 1572–1631". Norton Anthology of English Literature. B (9 ed.). New York: Norton. pp. 1370–72. ISBN 9780393912500.
- Lapham, Lewis. The End of the World. Thomas Dunne Books: New York, 1997. p. 98.
- "Of the Progress of the Soul: The Second Anniversary by John Donne". 21 November 2016.
- The chapel at Lincoln's Inn guide book, plus commemorative plaque within
- Cottrell, Dr Philip (University College Dublin). "The John Donne Monument (d. 1631) by Nicholas Stone". Church Monuments Society. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- The version of Meditation XVII found on wikiquote. Other sources change Donne's original orthography, phrasing and emphases, and have "... never ask for whom ..."
- Fulfilling the Circle: A Study of John Donne's Thought by Terry G. Sherwood University of Toronto Press, 1984, p. 231
- Dryden, John, A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire (London, 1693)
- The Best Poems of the English Language. Harold Bloom. HarperCollins Publishers, New York: 2004. pp. 138–139.
- Donne, John. Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition
- Voices and Visions television documentary episode about Sylvia Plath telecast on PBS for the first time on 14 August 1988. Her recollection of the book reviewer comparing her to Donne is from an audio clip of one of her BBC radio appearances that she made in late 1962 after separating from her husband, poet Ted Hughes.
- "Holy Days".
- Evangelical Lutheran Worship – Final Draft (PDF). Augsburg Fortress Press. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2007.
- "New John Donne statue unveiled in the shadow of St Paul's". The Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- White, E.B. Essays of E.B. White, HarperPerennial, 1977. ISBN 0-06-0932236; p. 28.
- Rhodes 1986, pp. 571–572.
- Donne 1896, pp. 211–212.
- Donne 1896, p. 165.
- Absence, Hear thou my Protestation, Representative Poets Online, accessed 29 March 2007, See also Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th Century (1921).
- Webster, Daniel (31 March 2009). "Two stirring requiems: One old, the other new". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
- "Anton Batagov - I fear no more". FANCYMUSIC. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- Bald, Robert Cecil (1970). John Donne, a Life. Oxford University Press.
- Brooks, Cleanth (2004). "The Language of Paradox". In Julie Rivkin; Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology (2nd ed.). Wiley. pp. 28–39. ISBN 978-1-4051-0696-2.
- Le Comte, Edward, Grace to a Witty Sinner: A Life of Donne, (Walker, 1965)
- Lim, Kit, John Donne: An Eternity of Song, Penguin, 2005.
- Morrissey, Mary, Politics and the Paul's Cross Sermons, 1558–1642 (Oxford, 2011)
- Sullivan, Ceri, The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan (Oxford, 2008)
- Walton, Izaak, The life of John Donne, Dr. in Divinity, and late Dean of Saint Pauls, pr. by J.G. for R.Marriot, 1658.
- Warnke, Frank J. John Donne, (U of Mass., Amherst 1987)
- "Donne, John (1573-1631)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Bald, R. C.: Donne's Influence in English Literature. Peter Smith, Gloucester, Massachusetts USA, 1965.
- Carey, John: John Donne. Life, Mind and Art. Faber and Faber Limited, London 1981, revised and republished 1990.
- Berman, Antoine: Pour une critique des traductions: John Donne, Gallimard, Paris, 1995. Translated into English by Françoise Massardier-Kenney with the title Towards a Translation Criticism: John Donne.
- Colclough, David (2003). John Donne's Professional Lives. DS Brewer. ISBN 978-0-85991-775-9.
- Grierson, Herbert J. C. (Ed.) (1902) The Poems of John Donne. Two volumes. (Oxford UP, 1912).
- Guibbory, Achsah (Editor): The Cambridge Companion to Donne. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006.
- Stephen, Leslie (1898). "John Donne". Studies of a Biographer. London: Duckworth and Co. pp. 36–82.
- Stubbs, John (2007). John Donne: The Reformed Soul. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 978-0-14-190241-8.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Donne|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Donne.|
- John Donne on Encyclopædia Britannica
- Works by John Donne at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about John Donne at Internet Archive
- Works by John Donne at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- John Donne at Luminarium.org
- Poems by John Donne at PoetryFoundation.org
- John Donne's Monument, St Paul's Cathedral
- Homepage of the John Donne Society
- Complete sermons of John Donne
- John Donne: Sparknotes
- The Donne Variorum
- Digital Donne (digital images of early Donne editions and manuscripts)
- Michael John Trotta's setting of Break of Day for SATB/piano/English Horn