1619 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Ben Jonson, Conversation with Drummond, 1619; Drummond, Works (1711) 225.



He said, Donne was originally a Poet, his Grandfather on his Mother Side was Heywood the Epigrammatist. That Donne for not being understood would perish. He esteemed him the first Poet of the World for some Things; his Verses on the lost Ochadine he had by Heart, and that Passage of the Calm, That Dust and Feathers did not stir, all was so quiet. He affirmed that Donne wrote all his best pieces before he was Twenty five Years of Age. That Conceit of Donne's Transformation or [Greek characters: Metempsychosis], was, that he sought the Soul of that Apple which Eva pulled, and thereafter made it the Soul of a Bitch, then of a She-wolf, and so of a Woman: His general Purpose was to have brought it into all the Bodies of the Hereticks from the Soul of Cain; and at last left it in the Body of Calvin. He only wrote one Sheet of this, and since he was made Doctor; repented hugely, and resolved to destroy all his Poems. He told Donne, That his Anniversary was prophane and full of Blasphemies, that if it had been written of the Virgin Mary, it had been tolerable. To which Donne answered, That he described the Idea of a Woman, and not as she was.