1640 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Izaac Walton, in Life of Dr. Donne (1640); Walton's Lives, ed. Zouch (1865) 92-93.



The recreations of his youth were poetry, in which he was so happy, as if nature and all her varieties had been made only to exercise his sharp wit and high fancy; and in those pieces which were facetiously composed and carelessly scattered, — most of them being written before the twentieth year of his age — it may appear by his choice metaphors, that both nature and all the arts joined to assist him with their utmost skill.

It is a truth, that in his penitential years, viewing some of those pieces that had been loosely — God knows, too loosely — scattered in his youth, he wished they had been abortive, or so short-lived that his own eyes had witnessed their funerals: but though he was no friend to th em, he was not so fallen out with heavenly poetry, as to forsake that; no, not in his declining age; witnessed then by so many divine Sonnets, and other high, holy, and harmonious composures.